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Dusting Off: The Bearded President

  • Najib Benouar

We’ll assume you either ended last night enjoying the sweet taste of victory, or in kind of a weird place... You also might’ve caught the presidential election.

We came away from the whole thing longing for the days of yore, when this great nation was ruled by men as grizzled as their jawlines.

Not since the likes of Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, a fellow by the name of Honest Abe and just about every US president in the second half of the 19th century have we had a president with some sort of facial follicle to pensively stroke while guiding this fair land. Back then it was more unusual to run for president and not have a crazy-ass beard.

The last time we had a president with any facial hair was 1913, when William Howard Taft—who replaced Theodore Roosevelt’s gold-standard soup strainer with a walrus-like outcropping—left office. And it’s not surprising that a one-termer best known for needing to be craned out of a bathtub prompted American candidates to give the facial hair (and gluttony) a rest for a while.

But now we’ve spent roughly a century without as much as a single unshorn stubble—which is really too bad, since there wasn’t a better face made for a mustache than Gerald Ford’s. Maybe it’s that new Lincoln movie, or the satisfaction we felt sipping our morning cup of coffee made by a guy with a Whitman beard, but we think this nation is ready for the return of the scruffy commander in chief. And with all the parallels that have been drawn between Obama and Lincoln, now couldn’t be a better time to bring a little bristle back into the Oval Office.

Four more years ought to be enough time to grow one.