Some of the guys who are tempted to mock Hillary Clinton's bad hair days are about to feel some of the lady's pain, beginning Thursday night in the first debate of the presidential nominating season. Bad hair days, and Clinton has a lot of them, aren't funny. Ask any woman.
A website called Grooming Lounge, which grandly calls itself "the nation's premiere resource for men's grooming," offers a few tips to the contestants in Thursday night's debate, the first of the presidential primary season. With a little help from their friends, the candidates can see themselves, a la Bobby Burns, as others see them. The primary debates, with more candidates than Carter has liver (spot) pills, are regarded as "cattle calls," and the gents will learn how it feels to see their hair, nails, 'staches, shoes, smiles and waistlines critiqued in public.
You could even ask the Donald. He's famous for bad comb-over days. But he's rich, rich, rich, as he keeps telling us, and if you're as rich as he says he is, then you can always retreat into cool confines of the counting house and have Miss Universe or one of her runners-up peel a grape and fetch a tall ginger ale.
Most men are notoriously leery of being seen paying too much attention to their looks. Cosmetics are for the ladies. Men who work outdoors sometimes tell their wives, who would appreciate a sweet-smelling after-shave, that scents merely attract gnats and mosquitos. But that's changing, and presidential candidates, like movie stars, get a pass for looking good.
The experts' tutorial comes with an Eyebrow Index, with the tipsters' assurance that eight of the last nine presidential elections have been won by the candidate with the best eyebrows. Little things mean a lot, especially in pursuit of bigger things.
Trump's unruly hair has been a character all to itself. Flying locks and overgrown eyebrows could use a trim; a bad hair day might make voters doubt he's telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about himself. He's at the top of the heap but with only 20 percent of the prospective Republican vote, and he'll need more than that to get to challenge Clinton.
Unruly hair bedevils Jeb Bush, too, who doesn't share much else with the Trump. Hairs sprout from his head, eyebrows and (dare we say it?) his nose. Taming those stragglers may be as important as forging a coherent policy on out-of-control immigration. The experts say he should get a nose-hair trimmer, an eyebrow trimmer, and hair cream: ("Just a little dab will do ya.")
Scott Walker's record is sharply defined, which is both a strength and, in some quarters, a weakness. So, too, his face (the experts' opinion, not necessarily mine), which is said to lack definition and be not very memorable. He should shape up both hair and eyebrows "with a tight, tapered haircut." He might take a few rays the next time he campaigns in Florida, to make himself look a little healthier.
Marco Rubio obviously pays attention to his grooming. But he could use a little gray in his temples to balance the youthful look. Voters want to see a little evidence of wisdom and experience in a president. He could grow a modest beard — if he stays away from a goatee and swirling designs around his mouth and on his cheeks. This is 2015, not 1885.
Ben Carson has a goatee, and the experts say he should get rid of it. Voters in this century, and indeed in the one before, prefer clean-shaven presidents. We've had goatish presidents, but never one with a goatee, which bequeaths the look of a professor at Old Siwash U, trying to look like a dandy from Harvard.
Mike Huckabee should pay attention to the fine lines and wrinkles on his forehead. A topical treatment might help. Rick Perry's new glasses have improved his looks dramatically, but he should style his hair a bit shorter. Rand Paul should get rid of the baby curls atop his head. His mama loved them, but voters probably won't. Ted Cruz should thin out his hair on the sides, the experts say, and he needs an "oil-control lotion" to make him look a little less greasy under the lights on stage.
Chris Christie must remember what happened to Richard Nixon in the debates in 1960, and try to ameliorate his tendency to sweat under those lights. His eyebrows "come in low toward the inner corner of his eyes, creating an ever-present 'angry face.'" Of course, anger seems to be what some voters are looking for this year.
And please, gentlemen, rummage through your drawers and find a necktie. You're running for president, not commissioner of animal control. And good luck to all.