December 6, 2016

"I look down to see the people that are governing me and making my rules — and they haven’t got any hair on their head. I get very uptight about it."

Said Bob Dylan in 1963, quoted at "Longhair Presidents of the United States."

I've been thinking about how we haven't had a long-haired President in quite a while, but it's not as though we never did. Fun is made of Donald Trump's hair, and the comedy swirls around its unique weirdness — the color, the strange arrangements of strands with frontal projection and swooping sides.

But calm down and think about long hair on men and how for the most part — despite decades of admiring men with long hair — we have expected the men wielding political power to keep their hair short. (Not too short, though. There are no buzz-cut Presidents.) What does it mean that after all these years, we — some of us — have accepted a leader with long hair?

We haven't had one since James Polk:



It doesn't count that some Presidents had long hair after they left office...



... or when they were little boys...



ADDED: Here's Buzzfeed's (pre-Trump) effort at ranking the Presidents by their hairstyles, e.g., #14 Zachary Taylor — "I like that he probably just rolled out of bed that morning and was like 'What’s up, I’m the President, bitches.'" You can see how the line "What’s up, I’m the President, bitches" seemed funnier before Trump got elected. Or maybe you think it's funnier now. For some reason, Andrew Jackson is only #3:



That's got the kind of swirling dynamism we see in Trump. And without hair spray. Impressive. That look on his face though. I get very uptight about it.

39 comments:

Ian F. Shield said...

There have been long-haired presidents since Polk. I would say, based on portraits and photographs I have seen, that Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and Andrew Johnson all wore their hair long. In a few of his photographs (I think from 1861-62), Lincoln also looks rather long-haired.

Even so, you're right, we haven't had a long-haired president for a very long time.

Ann Althouse said...

@Ian

Yes, I'm looking at all the pictures and I can see the challenge to my assertion that Polk was the last of the long hairs. I agree that Andrew Johnson's is longish. So you can imagine a variation of this post where the line is "We haven't had one since Andrew Johnson," but the picture of Andrew Johnson would make a much more boring post than this one with Polk.

It's just a question of where the line is between long and not long. I don't know if we've ever had a President who went as radically off the norm hair-length-wise as Trump.

rhhardin said...

As Polk said, to a frustrated favor-seeker that his friend Gideon Pillow had sent to him, "Shunted from Pillow to Polk, eh?"

Virgil Hilts said...

Polk clearly had the best hair.

rehajm said...

What direction did Bob Dylan look to see the people governing him? Does he live in a tree?

Curious George said...

"There are no buzz-cut Presidents."

Ike.

Virgil Hilts said...

Conan's Clutch Cargo used that (or very similar) photo of Clinton. Good times -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsmGXvpKmFk

rehajm said...

Ike.

I thought of this too but by the time he was president there wasn't much left on top and he let the back and sides grow out a little.

I couldn't find him with a buzz cut even in pictures from his youth.

Bad Lieutenant said...

So you can imagine a variation of this post where the line is "We haven't had one since Andrew Johnson," but the picture of Andrew Johnson would make a much more boring post than this one with Polk.

In other words, Truth is out of style.

Literally.

How long are you thinking Trump's hair is anyway? Seems to be thick, full, but barely touching the collar.

rehajm said...

From his perspective Dylan probably sees lots of bald spots.

buwaya puti said...

One day wigs will be back (I'm hoping for long, full, curly Louis XIV style) and we balding types will have something closer to hair equality again, at least in public.

jono39 said...

If long hair is the measure let's hope he shaves his head. What a collection of morons and slavedealers.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Meanwhile, he said sadly, have we already forgotten President Barack Hussein Obama? He always keeps it short. Buzzfeed themselves describe it as a buzz.

traditionalguy said...

The hair as a sign. And the Chinese know an American original when they see one. Interestingly, Jackson and Polk were the founders between 1815 and 1847 of the America that Trump has promised to lead back to greatness.

The Mexican War II will soon start in California.

tcrosse said...

We never had a president with a flat-top or a mullet. We were/are dangerously close to getting one with HillaryHair™.

Sebastian said...

"That look on his face though. I get very uptight about it." Frankly, my dear, he didn't give a damn.

Mike said...

Hey. Trey Gowdy could stand in for Polk! At least the combed back Gowdy-do would do, not the semi-spiky Gowdy we sometimes see. Ever since we saw him on an episode of Forensic Files as a SC prosecutor my wife has had kind of a crush on Trey.

Ron said...

what we are saying is that America is now ready for President Fabio.

Dan Truitt said...

That photo of Jackson was taken just months before he died. He was in constant pain and carrying around several bullets in his body from past duels, as well as being chronically dyspeptic. I'd have that expression on my face were I him, too.

EDH said...

The important question: which president has been seen drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's?

traditionalguy said...

HST loved Key West vacations in loud Hawaian shirts. And he loved his bourbon.

chuck said...

I'm pleased that I could identify Roosevelt as the boy dressed as a girl. I didn't recognize him, I went by class and the fashions of the time.

Roughcoat said...

Andrew Jackson has the archetypal Scottish face. Not Celtic, not Irish, not Welsh or Cornish or Breton -- Scottish. If you roam around Scotland, especially in the Highland north and the remote islands, you will see endless variations on this face. Also in the U.S., in Appalachia, and in the Ozarks. It's quite astonishing, actually.

David said...

Poor Jackson. Presented to posterity as a distracted old man wondering what happened to his teeth.

mccullough said...

JFK had the best hair and Trump is the first one with really bad hair since him. Reagan had a terrific hair colorist. Hollywood connections helped him. W and Obama really grayed in office and didn't go for the hair colorist thing like Reagan. This was a mistake.

mockturtle said...

Mike suggests: Hey. Trey Gowdy could stand in for Polk! At least the combed back Gowdy-do would do, not the semi-spiky Gowdy we sometimes see. Ever since we saw him on an episode of Forensic Files as a SC prosecutor my wife has had kind of a crush on Trey.

So does my older daughter. Trey definitely has the 'It' factor. To me, it's not his looks but his fearlessness. There are so many weenies in the world today that a straight-talker comes across well to many of us. [But scares the shit out of others].

mockturtle said...

I prefer men bald.

traditionalguy said...

The Scottish face on President Jackson is also the blue eyed, Tennessee Presbyterian Face. (See, Spurrier Steve in recent retirement photos). He misses the fighting. Polk was a very smart President, one let his wife advise him, and then he made all the right moves to stop a strong Mexico in the southwest and the British Empire in the northwest. But he could not get Alaska, although he discouraged the Russians into leaving Sonoma County. They sold us Alaska 20 years later.

Roughcoat said...

The Scottish face on President Jackson is also the blue eyed, Tennessee Presbyterian Face.

Yes indeed. That area was also in the pale of Scottish settlement. Jackson, btw, had fiery red hair. Red hair and did not photograph in early black & white photography -- it reproduced as dark. My great grandfather and his brothers had red blond hair and in their Civil War photographs they all look dark. See also, e.g., pics of Wild Bill Hickock, a Scots-Irish Presbyterian from Illinois with fire engine-red hair.

coupe said...

You can't "look down to people governing you."

Capitals are built on a hill.

George said...

Reminds me of one of my favorite lines of all time:
"Lyndon Johnson returned to his Texas ranch to drink and smoke and grow his hair long like a hippie and wait to die."

mockturtle said...

Reminds me of one of my favorite lines of all time:
"Lyndon Johnson returned to his Texas ranch to drink and smoke and grow his hair long like a hippie and wait to die."


And it didn't take him long to do all three.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

I think he had coronary artery disease, rather than heart failure. They are different.

William said...

I could live with baldness, but I don't know if I could live with the dental problems of Jackson and Washington. Jackson looks like his jaw has undergone some bone loss. I bet the dental problems were just as painful as the gunshot wounds, but you score far more macho points with old gunshot wounds than with bad teeth. In any event, he was in chronic pain most of his life, and his face shows it. There is speculation that Washington declined a third term because he had to wear the wooden choppers for state occasions and he found them excruciatingly painful.

RigelDog said...

"Andrew Jackson has the archetypal Scottish face. Not Celtic, not Irish, not Welsh or Cornish or Breton -- Scottish." That's EXACTLY what I thought before even reading your post! Same with Johnny Cash, for instance.

Bad Lieutenant said...

John said...
Coupe, you are showing your ignorance and flinging shit like a monkey in a cage.


As Kyle Reese said about the Terminator, that's what he does! THAT'S ALL HE DOES!!!

gadfly said...

There are no buzz-cut Presidents. Obama doesn't count?? He looks buzzy to me most of the time.

BudBrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.