Hair Watch: NPR Weighs In

I don’t know how I missed this one! On July 13’s Talk of the Nation, there was a fabulous episode called “The Politics of Hair,” with guest Peter Sagal, the follicly-challenged host of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me. Most of the discussion was from the perspective of the bald voterhow he must weigh the Sophie’s choice of having to vote for one full head of hair or another. Seeing as how the chance of people actually listening to the RealAudio of the episode is slim, I’ll recap the high points in the extended entry, below. Among the issues tackled: How did Ike get elected with his barren scalp? Is Cheney the bald man’s candidate? The fake baldness of Jesse Ventura. And the real tragedy of Jack Ryan.

Which of the haired candidate facing us in every election can best represent the interests of bald men?

As far as I can tell, the primary interest of we bald men politically is some forced program requiring all other men to lose some or part of their hair, to equal the playing field, and I haven’t heard any of the candidates talk about that yet.

Is Cheney the bald man’s candidate?

Cheney is the first bald president and/or vice president since the advent of the television age. We bald American should be proud of this. We have a place at the table. I’m just a little uncertain about how he became presidentand I don’t mean the election of 2000. I mean the fact that he picked himself … then candidate Bush went to Cheney to head a Vice Presidential search committee for Vice President and Cheney picked himself. It proves that the only way a bald guy could get this office is if he picked himself. It’s a bootstrap kind of thing.

Wasn’t Eisenhower bald?

He was the exception, but keep in mind, it was still the advent of the television age. Most people were probably not cognizent of the level of his baldness. Plus, he often wore caps. And third, of course, he successfully invaded Europe and saved the free world. So I think that, in order to get elected as a bald man to the presidency, you have to save the free world firstand even then I’m not sure. It depends on how you keep the rest of your hair.

Isn’t there some distrust of polticians with the tousled hair look? That they’re too pretty. That if you’ve got this blown dry look, can you be a serious person?

“It’s a fact of life, Americans just like a bouncy, fully head of hair. It’s just true. If it’s not true, then why isn’t Representative Henry Waxman a candidate for president? Have you ever seen a picture of Henry Waxman. He looks like an accountant. We need to just face this bias if we’re going to make any progress.”

Baldness can be very attractive. Jesse Ventura went very far, politically, on baldness.

I’ve made this confusion myself. We’re not talking about bald in terms of male pattern baldness. There’s a distinction between shaved heads and male pattern baldness. Which is why a lot of guys with male pattern baldness shave their headsso you can pretend it’s a matter of choice. (Mr. Michael Jordan, are you listening?) I’m waiting for a guy with the full-on fringe, the Larry David look, to claim office. When that happens, then we will know that, thank God almighty, we are free at last.

What role does the hair of candidates’ wives play?

Remember all the teasing that Marilyn Quayle got? I think that hurt that ticket in the long run. As for the upcoming election? In a testiment to our nation’s maturity, I think that the issue of the candidates’ wives hairstyles will not play a role in this election.

Gerald Ford was bald and he was president and vice president. Doesn’t that disprove the anti-bald bias argument?

Gerald Ford was not elected! He was selected by Richard Nixon to replace the fully haired, but felonious, Spiro Agnew. This is the exception that proves the rule, because there is no way that Gerald Ford, a fine man in every regard, would have been elevated to the presidency if the people had anything to do with it.

What about the candidates outside the presidential race?

Here in Illionis, we lost a candidate for senate, Jack Ryan. Jack Ryan had many attributes that had the Republicans excited about him: he could self-finance his campaign, his resume, his positions. But man, he had a great head of hair. It was incresidble: Let me put it this way, if from some reason he couldn’t have fulfilled the duties of his office, the hair could have stood in for him. It was that firm, that wonderful. That hair would have gotten him points in the election. Right now the Republicans are looking for hair of that caliber.

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