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In wave after wave, it's flowing from Kerry's head


Here's a thought: Presidential one-termers of recent memory had questionable hair.

George H.W. Bush: Borderline comb-over. Jimmy Carter: All over the place. Gerald Ford: Yikes!

Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, had great hair. So did Bill Clinton. And for truly presidential hair, look no further than John F. Kennedy -- the perfect part, the lustrous thickness, the stick-it-to-The-Man length.

Perhaps that's what Sen. John F. Kerry is doing. Looking to JFK, that is. It's no secret that Kerry idolizes Kennedy, and it's no secret that Kerry's hair seems as if it could run America all on its own. It springs startlingly from his scalp, a gray, leonine mane that threatens to creep down his forehead rather than recede from it.

Kerry heads into Super Tuesday, March 2, as the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. His closest challenger is Sen. John Edwards, who also has excellent hair and who caused something of a to-do when he changed his 'do several months back (going shorter, for a more sporty, less adult-contemporary look).

Edwards' hair, though, is a toupee compared with Kerry's. What to say about John Kerry's hair? It's longer than the Senate norm. There's so much of it. On good days, it swoops back in Andrew Jackson-esque glory. On bad days, it's the follicular equivalent of a Howard Dean scream.

Let's ask The People.

"It's good hair," says Amoniel Telisme, a barber at Total Connection Beauty Salon in Riviera Beach, Fla., after assessing the Feb. 2 cover of Newsweek. In the photo, Kerry was having a particularly good hair day -- everything in place, good gray-silver color, healthy shine.

At Great Lengths Hair Studio in North Palm Beach, Fla., stylist Maria Barone said, "He's got some weird hair going on. It's sort of curly / frizzy, and I think he's using something like Grecian Formula that makes the color gray-green."

"Clinton had really terrible hair in the beginning, but he got somebody to cut it down and it looked so much better," Barone said. "I just want to fix [Kerry's] hair with Sleek Look and a razor cut and taper his sideburns."

Faye Clark and Donna Morris, stylists at Faye's Hair Shapery in Lake Park, Fla., decided they would take the risk of cutting Kerry's hair shorter.

"Right now it looks bouffant," Morris said. "And he's not a good-looking man to start with."

True, Kerry may not be John Edwards looks-wise, but his hair certainly deserves its own campaign chairman. It looks capable of governing and making the Tough Decisions. As Kerry emphasizes his "uninterrupted re-cord of taking on powerful special interests" to the press, it's impossible not to think about his hair.

There's something so populist about his obvious, lifelong effort to tame that which sprouts unbidden from his head and not look like a televangelist. It's something -- often-futile attempts at control -- to which many can relate.

Perhaps Kerry might run a frustrated hand through his amazing hair before he points a finger or pounds a podium and promises to Fix Things. Perhaps his hand would get stuck (Hair that thick and wiry requires a lot of styling product, Clark said).

Perhaps his surge in the polls is attributable not to support from the working middle class, but from something far more powerful: gel.

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