Every since the death of my Mom, I’ve been following the Jewish tradition of not shaving for 30 days after the death — a practice known sensibly enough as the shloshim (which means “30” in Hebrew). I’ve never grown a beard before, and although it’s still pretty itchy, I can see the advantages of them.
Which of course raises the political angle.
I’m trying to remember the last time a major US national political figure (viz., a Senator, a major-state Governor, or of course the President/VP) had any facial hair, and especially a beard.
The last I can think of was Hugh Scott, the Senate Republican leader in the 1970’s. (Scott’s mustache and pipe seem classy to me, but would be dismissed as elitist today). As for major Presidential candidates, New York Governor Thomas Dewey, from the 1940’s, was the last we’ve seen.
And that’s just mustaches. Beards? Fuggetaboudit. The last national political figure with a beard was Henry Cabot Lodge, whom popular consciousness has unfairly maligned as an isolationist who prevented US entry into the League of Nations (actually, it was virtually all Woodrow Wilson’s fault).
It’s not clear to me why this would be. Do people mistrust men with beards? Do mustaches give someone a vaguely Snidely Whiplash-like sinister look? (But doesn’t Inspector Fenwick have a mustache, too?).
Any good theories out there? Am I missing people?
UPDATE: Quite a few reactions. Most prominently, I missed former House Minority Leader David Bonior and former NJ Senator and Governor Jon Corzine (apparently, Corzine’s advisors told him to shave for a more popular look, he said no, and now we have Chris Christie. Just sayin’).
My bad: Keith wrote an illuminating post related to this in November.
Finally, you can get your very own Henry Waxman “Mustache of Justice” mug here. Throw it at the television if you get fed up with the new Congress.