A Yankee’s Face on an American Government

Before the days of Schick and Barbasol, a lithograph from the printmaker Currier and Ives depicted President Lincoln’s ZZ Top of a cabinet and the chinstrap in chief holding the Emancipation Proclamation. Over his shoulder was graybeard Gideon Welles, secretary of the navy, and to his left were Attorney General Edward Bates and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, whose chest-length ducktail traced the v in his vest.

One-hundred and fifty years later, the new president wouldn’t even let a pushbroom mustache in the room. From the Washington Post:

Trump’s closest aides have come to accept that he is likely to rule out candidates if they are not attractive or not do not match his image of the type of person who should hold a certain job.

Several of Trump’s associates said they thought that John R. Bolton’s brush-like mustache was one of the factors that handicapped the bombastic former United Nations ambassador in the sweepstakes for secretary of state.

“Donald was not going to like that mustache,” said one associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly. “I can’t think of anyone that’s really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes.”

Trump once said he would rather run the New York Yankees than any other franchise in professional sports. Now, he’s preparing to run the federal government instead, which has a similarly high budget, massive payroll, and judgmental facial hair policy.

One of the president-elect’s many “great friends,” the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, instituted a no-beards code in the 1970s that ultimately helped shape the team’s corporate appearance. The Wall Street Journal termed it a “shave-up-or-ship-out” policy for a franchise that has “evolved into all-business squads full of veterans who pitch high-priced Movado watches but avoid barroom brawls.” Players like the expensive star outfielder Johnny Damon, for whom every day was Halloween in the outfit of a cave man during his stint with the Boston Red Sox, have become trim businessmen upon signing with the Bronx club.

“It’s who we are,” team manager Joe Girardi said.

Compare that with how Trump’s circle says he values “the look.”

“Presentation is very important because you’re representing America not only on the national stage but also the international stage, depending on the position,” Trump’s goateed transition spokesman and incoming White House communications director Jason Miller told the Post. (Sean Spicer, Trump’s choice for press secretary—a more publicly visible position—is sans whiskers.)

Newsmax executive Chris Ruddy added that Trump “likes people who present themselves very well.”

Maybe something told Paul Ryan he should get ahead of the curve.

This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard

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