Friday, November 14, 2003

Robin Givhan takes a look at the hair of the men who would be President.

    In a locks-to-locks comparison, Clark would be judged more favorably. Dean's hair looks as though it was ordered from an old Sears catalogue. But there's a certain Mayberry charm to Clark's barbershop cut. Yet who can linger over Clark's perfectly trimmed, supreme-Allied-commander hair when his taut profile is competing for attention? His jaw line is so perfectly sharp that a draftsman could use it as a straight edge. Clark has an ideal nose, one that should be cast in plaster and used as a teaching aid in a course on rhinoplasty. Given all that, he doesn't even need hair.
    Seven of the nine Democratic candidates have the same haircut, with only slight modifications to accommodate the texture of their hair. It is the haircut that boys are often given on their first trip to the barber. And as many men are loath to experiment with their hair, it is often the cut that, decades later, they take to the grave. It is the "regular guy" haircut: parted on the side, clipped short at the temples, not too much layering lest it look as though a Hugh Grant/Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise degree of thought might have gone into it. It is self-consciously unstyled, a cut that camouflages any furtive use of a blow dryer or styling product. It is the cut that Dan Rather ditched when he wanted to look more modern. Richard Gephardt, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Dean and Clark all part their hair on the left. John Edwards, 50, parts his low on the right and a thick mane flops across his forehead like an inverted Nike Swoosh. It is an old man's haircut -- neither short nor rakishly long. Just unremarkably there.
    Candidate Kerry -- he of the dramatic jaw line and a 59-year-old physique that looks particularly fetching in a motorcycle jacket -- has a thatch of hair that always looks as though it is one percentage point of humidity away from floating up and off his head. But on arid days, Kerry's hair has a thick, glamorous quality. It edges toward dashing, hints at vanity but steers clear of roguish. It is leading-man hair with a politician's part.

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