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Will The Election Hinge On Hairstyles?

Former Sen. John Edwards should have been a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2008. He was the 2004 vice presidential nominee and reminded voters and pundits of JFK. There were only two problems: Barack Obama, the fresh new face … Read More

By / January 25, 2008

Former Sen. John Edwards should have been a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2008. He was the 2004 vice presidential nominee and reminded voters and pundits of JFK. There were only two problems: Barack Obama, the fresh new face of the Democratic Party, and a YouTube video titled "John Edwards Feeling Pretty." Edwards has wonderful hair. So wonderful that Sen. John Kerry often joked: "We've got better ideas. We've got great plans. We've got a better sense of what's happening in America. And we've got better hair." Vice President Dick Cheney, bald and tubby, said of Edwards' immaculate coif: "People tell me that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex appeal and his great hair. I say to them: How do you think I got the job?"

The jokes were damaging but not lethal. Too much focus on hair is never a good thing, particularly when you're a politician short on gravitas, but Edwards was still a serious candidate. However, the YouTube video changed everything. In it, Edwards's stylist works on his hair for almost two minutes. Then, unsatisfied with the stylist, Edwards whips out a compact mirror and begins playing with his own locks. The soundtrack playing in the background: "I Feel Pretty," from West Side Story. As of January 23, 2008, more than a million people have viewed the video. As I explain in my new book, Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House, nothing matters more on the campaign trail than image. Edwards and his supporters have tried to minimize the silly idea that his hair is relevant to his qualifications, but the simple fact is that it's relevant because we think it's relevant.

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