J Walking

Who freaking cares? John Edwards spent $400 on a haircut. And? So?

The point about the haircut, of course, is to highlight (so to speak) two things – First, his vanity and second, his hypocrisy.

Let’s deal with each. Vanity? Fine. It is that. But are we to somehow believe that his vanity is unique among presidential candidates (or presidents)? Shall we check and see how much each candidate spends on a makeup person every month? Or how about clothes? How many thousand dollar suits – or shoes – does each candidate have? How much do they spend on image consultants? Then there are the chauffeurs. Let’s face it, most of these presidential candidates don’t lead “normal American” lives. All of the front runners are rich – anyone see the nearly $1 million that Sen. Obama made last year? (Or the $1.7 million he made the year before? That isn’t exactly low income.)

The bigger point, however, is the hypocrisy one. Because he spent $400 on a haircut we now see that his talk about the poor he was full of…hair spray. We like it that way. The more we are able to convince ourselves that anyone talking about the poor is a hypocrite, the less we have to listen to them and more content we feel. It is a unique standard that we don’t apply elsewhere – we don’t say about healthy people that they can’t talk about health care. We don’t say that just because someone is not fighting in Iraq that they can’t talk about Iraq. We don’t say that they are hypocrites.

Is a $400 hair cut ridiculous? Of course it is. Is having the campaign pay for it worse? Yes. Does it deserve a whit of attention? Not really. What deserves attention is his passion for the poor. Are the policies he is proposing good ones? Are there better ones? Let’s have that debate – it is far more important than trivial nonsense that is entertaining but ridiculous.


I looked up personal financial records and found financial records released in 2004 that showed the Edwards family giving nearly 9% – or $3.3 million – of their income to charity between 1994 and 2004 – the Obama family gave 6% last year. Neither of the two families were too stingy about giving – they certainly exceeded, for instance, the .18% that the Gore family gave in 1997 while coming in well below the 78% the Cheney’s gave in 2005.

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