While I was devoting considerable energies into not nodding off during the State of The Union Address last night, Mrs. Junk remarked on how odd it was to see President Obama’s suddenly graying hair. As a guy who has seen his own hair take a sudden flight towards white–I’ll be in Santa country by the time I’m 55–I have to say he carries it well. He’s a handsome guy, after all, and he’s got a lot on his mind. Not only that, he’s certainly in good company. Until my own hair changed from brown to salt & pepper to–uh–just plain salty (like my personality, I guess), I have to admit that I suspected s conspiracy of Presidents. As candidates, it goes to figure, potential leaders want to appear youthful, energetic, virile, powerful and vigorous; so it goes without saying that coloring one’s hair is a simple part of a campaign not unlike wearing good suits and attractive ties. Once in office, however, the cultivated image of choice shifts to one of wisdom, maturity, and leadership–candidates are cast as agents of change, but Presidents are leaders. The are diplomats who set the tone for national discourse and international relations. Even the simplest of men, those who bore leadership as if it was no greater burden than a sack of children’s toys, have aged under the weight of responsibility and the pressure of constant scrutiny. Was I wrong to suspect that Presidents in office intentionally let their hair go gray? That some possibly even hasten the process via artificial means? I suspect I’m on to something–but I also think that these guys are missing the boat. Ronald Reagan, that canny old player, appeared to moisten his hair with waxy black shoe polish right up to his last days in office, even as he muttered “I do not recall” to inquiry after inquiry into the despicable conduct that took place on his watch–and people loved him for it. Why did folks love Reagan? Not because he denied any problems America faced with the same fervor he denied knowledge of the Iran-Contra Arms For Hostages deals, and not because he reminded many of us of our doddering old grandfathers. Reagan was beloved because he had the same hair as The Fonz. When Reagan was elected, who was the reigning cultural icon? It Arthur “Fonzi” Fonzarelli. When Reagan won reelection in 1984, American was sadly saying goodbye to that same shark-jumping icon when a wave of nostalgia carried the incumbent back for another four-year term. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
So, clearly what President Obama needs is a celebrity make-over, and the perfect celebrity has never been more clear–we need someone who is highly intelligent and articulate, someone who works as hard as Obama, and we need someone cool–if the truth is to be told, Obama needs a little help here: he’s a bit of a policy geek, and those cigarettes don’t make him seem any cooler, despite what years of Marlboro ads have said to the contrary. He gets points for playing basketball, but not enough to compensate for his wonkishness. On the subject of his rumored, rabid fanaticism for Star Trek I plead the fifth amendment and the right to not risk self-incrimination.
Not only would it be a serious upgrade in terms of both style and cool, but there would be added tactical advantages in dealing with the primarily southern, lilly-white conservative seed at the heart of Republican stubbornness, for example–that tall and proud hair is going to scare the bejesus out the closet crackers who let their backwardsassed racism foul progress. On the international circuit, do we really think a bully like Vladamir “Mad Vlad” Putin is going to give a giant like Questlove–easily 7 feet tall with the hair factored in–and backtalk whatsoever? I don’t think so–and Obama is another tall guy, so all he needs to do it thicken up, add 150 pounds, and voila….
If I was any good at computer graphics, I’d mock up a cut and paste job of Questlove’s hair on Obama, but I’m afraid we’re just going to have to wait for the inevitable since, now that I’ve loosed this cat from it’s sack, there’s no way this isn’t going to happen. In the mean time, please enjoy the video link.