Monday, January 18, 2016

June 18, 2016--Presidential Hair

Commenting about candidates for the presidency as we entered the age of campaigning on TV, my father used to say, as John Kennedy was moving to succeed Dwight Eisenhower, "Without a full head of hair like his, you don't have a chance to be elected. Ike, with just that wisp on top, would not have fared well if he had to run on television."

With that my Dad would stroke his bald pate and look, ruefully and disappointedly over at me, noting my own rapidly receding hairline, realizing he would have to settle for my becoming a surgeon (which I failed to do) and not president. His real American dream.

So what to make of our current crop of candidates' hair?

Scott Walker (remember him, the governor of Wisconsin and Koch Brothers' favorite), the establishment GOP's great white hope, faded fast and dropped out first because of hair problems. His bald spot--much like a monk's tonsure--was made more visible on HD TV by the fact that his remaining hair was dyed extra black with what could only have been shoe polish.

It didn't help his candidacy when a letter surfaced that he wrote to a Jewish constituent in which he said, "Thank you again and Molotov," when he meant Mazel tov.

Marco Rubio, already suffering from the problem that he's youthful-looking and short (sorry, vertically challenged, and thus those 2-inch lift boots he was spotted wearing last week), both of which make it hard for voters to imagine him as commander-in-chief ensconced at the head of the Situation Room table, also has a hair problem. Though artfully disguised, at only 44, he is already sporting a comb-over, which becomes apparent when on the stump in windy Iowa where he has to pay more attention to beating it back in place than repeating his over-rehersed Mr. Robot talking points.

Raphael Cruz is also working on a comb-over. Look carefully and you will spot the beginnings of serious thinning along the seam of his part.

But the three candidates who have by far the most politically interesting hair are Donald TRUMP (an easy call), Hillary Clinton, and even Bernie Sanders.

In reverse order--

Bernie's hair looks as if it's cut by his wife. No $1,250 haircuts for socialist Bernie like the one that undid poor Two-Americas John Edwards. And no hair dye either to make him look more youthful (not that he needs that--he's pretty much got all the Millennials voting for him). And certainly no hair gook. The windblown, absentminded professor look do appear to be working for him. But from time to time I've been noticing evidence of a comb-forward. A modified Chuck Todd. This alone suggests that he's thinking of himself as a viable candidate, not just Crazy Bernie.

What to make of Hillary?

During her years as First Lady she struggled almost as much with what name to adopt--Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Eva Peron, Golda Meir--as she did with her hair.

Beyond her name shifting (really struggles about her identity) even more on her mind was her hair.

On the Internet there are people keeping track of everything going on in the world, including how many hairstyles Hillary sported while First lady. From their and my research I have counted at least 32. Thirty-two!

With even more on display during the past few months in Iowa and New Hampshire. Neither place good-hair-day territory.

Then, beyond imagining, irresistible to make fun of, is the now iconically famous whatever-it-is that The Donald does with his hair.

If there is anyone on the political circuit paying more attention to his or her hair than Hillary, it is TRUMP.

The style never varies and the color is consistently applicated. Couple that with all the sculpting, fixing, and the pumpkin-colored spray-job on his face and the chauk-white mask around his eyes and you have  a living, breathing cartoon superhero.

Counter-intuitively, all this attention to his hair and looks is stereotypically . . . feminine.

So we have big-bully Donald TRUMP coming off at least as girly as Hillary Clinton.

How this campaign continues to fascinate with its surprises.

Hillary Clinton a mass of contradictions, calling on her husband to pull her out of tough spots (as now in Iowa) while at the same time showing off her cajones as a potential commander-in-chief, while blustery tough-guy Donald Trump spends hours each day fussing with his hair.

Though, he said, if he's elected he'll be so busy in the White House that he won't have time for his hair and will get a buzz cut.

That prospect is almost enough to get me to vote for him.

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