When you spend more on a couple of haircuts than Burundi’s per capita G.D.P. , it looks so vain it makes Paul Wolfowitz’s ablutions spitting on his comb look like rugged individualism.We haven’t reached the point where we can handle a green-tea-soy-latte-drinking, self-tanning-sea-salt-mango-body-wrappin
Running With Scissors
Whether or not the country is ready to elect a woman president or a black president, it’s definitely not ready for a metrosexual in chief.
In presidential politics, it’s all but impossible to put the man into manicure. Be sensitive, but not soft. Effete is never effective. Not much has changed since George H. W. Bush drove his New Hampshire campaign off the road by requesting “a splash” more coffee at a truck stop.
John Kerry sank himself by windsurfing in spandex and ordering a cheese steak in Philly with Swiss instead of Cheez Whiz.
We haven’t reached the point where we can handle a green-tea-soy-latte-drinking, self-tanning-sea-salt-mango-body-wrappin
Bill Clinton sometimes flirted with metrosexuality, with Zegna ties, Christophe haircuts, Donna Karan suits and keen anima, but the heterosexual beat out the metrosexual.
Americans have revered such homely leaders as Abe Lincoln. They seem open to balding pates like Rudy’s and flattops like Jon Tester’s. They don’t want self-confidence to look like self-love.
John Edwards has reminded us that even — or especially — in the age of appearances, you must not appear to care too much about appearances.
When you spend more on a couple of haircuts than Burundi’s per capita G.D.P. , it looks so vain it makes Paul Wolfowitz’s ablutions spitting on his comb look like rugged individualism.
Following his star turn primping his hair for two minutes on a YouTube video to the tune of “I Feel Pretty,” Mr. Edwards this week had to pay back the $800 charged to his campaign for two shearings at Torrenueva Hair Designs in Beverly Hills. He seems intent on proving that he is a Breck Girl — and a Material Boy.
He did not pony up for the pricey bills from Designworks Salon in Dubuque, Iowa, or the Pink Sapphire spa in Manchester, which offers services for men that include the “Touch of Youth” facial, as well as trips “into the intriguing world of makeup.” The Edwards campaign calls makeup a legitimate expense.
Speaking of roots, my dad, a police detective who was in charge of Senate security, got haircuts at the Senate barbershop for 50 cents. He cut my three brothers’ hair and did the same for anyone else in the neighborhood who wanted a free clip job. Even now, Mr. Edwards could get his hair cut at the Senate barbershop for $21 or the Chapel Hill Barber Shop near his campaign headquarters for $16.
So it’s hard for me to understand how a guy could spend $400 without getting Bergdorf Blonde highlights. (The tabloids claim that Brad and Jen used to get matching streaks.) And don’t campaign donors get snippy about sponsoring tonsorial treats?
Someone who aspires to talk credibly about the two Americas can’t lavish on his locks what working families may spend on electricity in a year. You can’t sell earnestness while indulging in decadence.
Mr. Edwards, the son of a mill worker, moved from a $5.2 million, six-bedroom Federal mansion in Georgetown to a 28,000-square-foot behemoth in North Carolina with a basketball court, a squash court, two stages and a swimming pool.
His 25-year-old daughter, Cate, a former editorial assistant for Vanity Fair, co-founded Urbanista, an online Rolodex that dispenses advice for “hip” girls in Manhattan, offering to be a “bestie” (a best friend) and answer questions like “Where should I go to get my Marc Jacobs shoes reheeled?” and “Does anyone know the best place to get a really great haircut?” One salon the site recommends is Warren-Tricomi, where Edward Tricomi says haircuts range from $121 to $300.
The cost of grooming hair is peanuts compared with the cost of grooming an image. Hillary is paying a fortune to try to buy the secrets of likability. Her financial reports for the first three months of 2007 show debts to consulting firms of $447,000.
John McCain, who’s supposed to be giving it to us straight, has a jaw-dropping herd of consultants to tell him how to do that. Dubbed “the 2007 Full Employment Act for Campaign Consultants,” the McCain crew spent $645,000 on fund-raising consultants in the first quarter and $400,000 on political consultants in key states (four in South Carolina alone). His top political adviser, John Weaver, got more than $60,000 in just three months.
Obviously, there’s a lot of waste in political campaigns. But you don’t have to be as flinty as Mitt Romney — who has made his staff triple up at cheap hotels — to know there’s something special about throwing away money on vanity.
All the haircuts in the world may not save John Edwards from a blowout.