Sunday, December 07, 2008

District of Beards

I’ve been troubled by Bill Richardson’s decision to shave his beard as he ascends (or descends?) to his new role at the head of Commerce. The basic takeaway here, for me, is that he’s endorsing and acceding to the idea that you can’t be taken seriously in Washington if you have a beard. Troubling indeed.

I’ve taken this question up with some of my most trusted, bearded consiglieres, and I’ve heard a few new viewpoints. For one, you have to account for the bearded and powerful among us, most notably Ben Bernanke. He, however, is a bit of an academic, and certainly above the fray. So perhaps the qualifier is that one can’t be a politician with a beard in DC and be taken seriously. Still troubling.

Jon Corzine is one exception to this rule, but his beard is perhaps unique in that it is part of his trademark– part of who he is– and in that he has always been bearded. He’s also not in DC anymore.

Richardson’s beard, much like Al Gore’s beard, may be too closely associated with his defeat in the presidential race (much in the way that that a teenage girl who just got dumped by her boyfriend might go gorge on a pint of Ben & Jerrys, these guys consoled themselves by letting their facial hair go wild), and thereby be a political liability. Hard to say. Regardless, I think the man made a mistake, because beards are coming back in a big way, and Richardson rocked his pretty well.

I’d like to see a study on the rise and fall of beards among the American people, and how those trends are reflected among our leaders. Here’s a start (at the bottom).

2 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

but what is it about beards, as opposed to other types of facial hair. Henry Waxman seems to be taken relatively seriously on the hill, despite having quite silly whiskers.

8/12/08 9:25 AM  
Blogger Chloe said...

perhaps you are intrigued by this topic because you are hopeful that your facial hair will lead you to the white house...?

8/12/08 11:04 PM  

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