Here is a little relief on the light side, reblogged from my post on The Economist’s Democracy in America:
NO SOONER had Carly Fiorina won the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat than the race became hair-raising. Probably unaware that a microphone was on, Ms Fiorina relayed “what everyone says” about Ms Boxer, which is, of course: “God, what is that hair. So yesterday.”
Hair has factored in politics at least since the Roman Republic. The enemies in the Senate of an up-and-coming young general, Publius Cornelius Scipio, tried to derail his rise by implying that he grew his hair un-Romanly long, in the Greek style that seemed soft and suspicious; Scipio went on to defeat Hannibal anyway and, balding, became Rome’s saviour. Julius Caesar was famously touchy about his receding hairline. And Julian the Apostate, Rome’s last pagan emperor, grew a shaggy beard to make an anti-Christian statement which became so controversial that Julian wrote a satire called Misopogon, “The Beard Hater”, in his own defence.
Hair remained political for the Holy Roman Emperors, from Charles the Bald to Frederick I Barbarossa (“red beard”). In the modern era, Kaiser Wilhelm II twirled his mustache just so. China’s top Communists have always amazed with hair that is ink-black at any age. Ronald Reagan’s was impressive, though he is now arguably outdone by Mitt Romney, who during the 2008 campaign warned fellow Republican Mike Huckabee “Don’t touch the hair.”
Women have it harder. Their hair, above all Hillary Clinton’s, is more analysed and yet they are not supposed to bring it up, lest they seem petty or catty. This was the charge against Ms Fiorina last week. Please. “My hair’s been talked about by a million people,” responded Ms Fiorina defiantly. Of late, that’s because she lost all of it while fighting and beating breast cancer. Her hair is now growing back. It is a short, strong statement.