Bill Clinton: Lose the coiffed hair.You may think...

NOTE TO

April 07, 1992

NOTE TO Bill Clinton: Lose the coiffed hair.

You may think this insignificant.

"Oh my gosh, the press is going to get on his hair now? First, Gennifer Flowers, then Vietnam, then his wife's law practice, now this? Won't you leave the poor man alone?"

Frankly, we're doing him a favor. This is advice his campaign team should have discerned long ago.

While Democratic insurgent Jerry Brown dons a union baseball jacket and turns magically into a Michigan assembly line worker, Mr. Clinton, because of his blow-dried hair, could never pull off that chameleon trick. The high-styled hair runs contrary to his appeal for the "middle class" vote. Mr. Clinton's "do" has also become the primary facial trait, along with the jut jaw, that political cartoonists exaggerate when lampooning him.

Sure, we want our politicians to look good; we just don't want to them to look like they want to look good. When the Arkansas governor visited Maryland before our primary, he should have sought the advice of Dennis F. Rasmussen, the former Baltimore County executive whose neat, blow-dried hair played into his critics' charges that he was aloof and helped him lose his job.

Indisputably, politics is theater, and Mr. Clinton's hair gives the wrong stage cues. If public appeal ever did exist for Mr. Clinton's choice of hairstyle, the tel-evangelist preachers blew that to shreds. Don't believe us? Ask a pro.

"He's concerned about the laborer but [his hair] sets him apart," concurs George Carr, a teacher at Roberts Institute of Hair Design in Aberdeen. "He's very prim, very proper. He looks out of character for what he's trying to get across. It's more patronizing, condescending."

You want to talk politicians and hair, Mr. Carr says, the all-time king was J.F.K. John F. Kennedy introduced the dry look to an American man who knew only 50-cent haircuts and Brylcream. The male hairstyling business took off like a Gemini rocket and never looked back.

Alas, Mr. Clinton: You're 30 years too late.

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