Hey Big Daddy,
I’m a Republican with a goatee, and I have aspirations of running for a
legislative seat someday. Do I have to lose the beard in order to get
elected? I’m told that politicians with beards are a no-no in politics, even
in San Francisco.
–Hirsute in Sacramento
The answer to the question of whether a person or politician looks good with
facial hair is similar to the answer to the same question as it pertains to
hats or miniskirts. In other words, it depends.
If you’re Minnie Pearl or Bella Abzug, no question you should be wearing a
hat. If you’re Jack Abramoff or Michael Dukakis, I hope you have a nice Plan
B career planned because you’re not going to have a future in politics for
long after donning a chapeau and being photographed by the AP.
On the facial-hair front, if it makes you look like a porn star, a used-car
salesman, Grizzly Adams or the winner of a Frank Zappa look-alike contest,
then it’s time to lather-up, big fella, and get under the blade.
I’ve never bought into that old adage that politicians with facial hair must
have something to hide. Plenty of people have been elected with facial hair,
the great Abe Lincoln heading up a very long list of luminaries. Take a fin
out of your wallet and take a good, long, lingering gander: Can you imagine
old Abe without a beard? Neither could Mary Todd, which explains why Abe
never appeared in public without it. On the other hand, it didn’t do him a
helluva lot of good at Ford’s Theater, so maybe he should have shaved the
beard off after getting re-elected.
On the other end of the spectrum is Rep. Tom DeLay. Take a look at some old
photographs of him with that mustache. The Hammer looks like a pesticide
salesman, which, of course, is exactly what he was before embarking on a
career of creative map-drawing and shaking people down. Getting rid of that
caterpillar above his lip was the best thing he ever did. And when you
combine that look with the orange coveralls, he stands a good chance of
being elected cell president.
Of course, Big Daddy himself had a moustache. If you can’t dig out an old
photograph, head up to my hearing room in the State Capitol, Room 4202. See
that giant painting of me? Not sure who picked the photo to paint from, but
I look like an overweight extra from Boogie Nights with that mustache.
Given that the majority of your fellow Republicans is a tad to the right of
Jesse Helms these days, I doubt you could get elected Chief Bedpost
Inspector in a closed primary so long as you’re sporting a goatee. You may
want to consider going with the clean-shaven, traditional young-Republican
look, then break out your surfboard and let down your hair a la Dana
Rohrbacher after you’ve racked up a couple of electoral victories.