Something’s been bothering me about this election. No, it’s not the silence from both major parties on climate change. It’s the fact that neither Obama nor Romney (I accidentally just typed “RMoney”… accidentally?) sports facial hair. A friend and I were talking about this the other day, and a quick google search showed us there hasn’t been an appreciable furface sleeping at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. since the mustachioed WH Taft (of butter and bathtub fame), 100 years ago. That is, unless any of these recent presidents was a closet homosexual (different meaning of “beard”).
This is hairy dearth is deplorable. Just look at this pic of portraits of past presidents:
You’re probably thinking, “Where’s all the virile scruff?” Well, no, you’re probably thinking, “There’s a lot of dudes / white ppl there.” But your next thought is probably, “Where’s all the virile scruff?” However, from Abe Lincoln through Bill Taft there’s a fairly flagrant concentration of beards, mustaches and whatever you call the thing hiding Chester A. Arthur’s charming smile (squared off in red); only W McKinley and A Johnson dared rain on this badass parade. Yes, there are some audacious sideburns on John Q. Adams and Martin Van Buren, but otherwise all Executive facial hair is concentrated between 1860 and 1913. What gives?
It looks like there’s a fairly clear pattern: voters loathed and distrusted facial hair for the first nearly 100 years of American history, followed by a brief period in which facial hair was loved and trusted, which may then have been ruined by Taft and after which there’s been nary a stache nor goat sitting in the oval office to the present day. Is this a real pattern, or could some other random process produce this same distribution of scruff? (for simplicity’s sake, we’ll pretend no president served more than 1 term…) Could random sampling of 43 (mostly white) men give us a clump of 9/13 with facial hair? (side burns don’t count) If there’s a 50/50 chance of a man growing facial hair, is 9/43 Prezes unusually high or low? I’ll let you know after I write and run some tests!