Women are skeptical of men with facial hair -- at least according to the research of Dr. Chris Solomon at Kent University in England, who conducted interviews with 111 women reacting to photographs of 120 men. So does this mean distrust will tear apart Barack Obama's much-ballyhooed "team of rivals" Cabinet? Consider this: Alongside women Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, and Susan Rice, several of the men close to Obama sport facial hair. There's David Axelrod, the president's senior adviser, whose Burt Reynolds-style 'stache dominated the campaign season. Then there's Eric Holder. Many distrust Holder because he facilitated Bill Clinton's pardon of financier Marc Rich. If Dr. Solomon is to be believed, however, women (those flighty broads!) will be more concerned about Holder's signature, thick mustache. And consider Bill Richardson, Obama's onetime primary rival and now commerce secretary, who went au naturale with a full beard after dropping out of the presidential race. He shaved that beard around the time he began jockeying for a Cabinet position. Coincidence? Or a bid to get Hillary to forgive him for endorsing Obama?
But wait. Solomon's study only tested women's reactions to white men with facial hair. Holder, you're off the hook! As for Axelrod, there's little doubt Hillary Clinton, at least, won't regard him kindly -- he was one of the architects of the campaign that quashed her commander-in-chief ambitious. Or maybe it's just the mustache. Who knows?
Administration, To Go
One little-known part of the presidential transition process is the removal and disbursement of old inventory from various executive offices and agencies. As with any large organization, closets full of supplies gather dust until review teams identify what stays and what goes. What follows are excerpts from the Obama transition team's recommendations for inventory to be discarded, obtained at great risk by the Prospect.
Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel: Boards, wood, seven feet long. Used for: Waterboarding.
Federal Emergency Management Agency: Request forms for disaster-relief workers (unused); resumés (falsified); congratulatory messages from the president.
Department of Defense: Halliburton Koozies (3,000); Halliburton hats (150); Halliburton golf tournament T-shirts (150); Halliburton bill ($3.92 billion).
National Security Agency: Transcripts of phone conversations (yours); file marked "al-Qaeda-Iraq connections" (empty); surveillance pictures (NSFW).
Food and Drug Administration: Shelf marked: "Drug Approval Guidelines"; contains one (1) King James Bible.
Office of the Vice President: Shredders (15); office is missing copy of the Constitution.
The Upside of Down
It's official; we're in a recession. Are you desperate? Unemployed? Don't just sit there. Get in on these once-in-a-downturn boom economies.
Cosmetics. Some women would rather eat less than buy less make-up. They will even buy fewer clothes than deign to cut back on make-up. And women actually buy more make-up when their purse strings are tight. Estée Lauder's chairman, Leonard Lauder, says you can gauge a recession by watching lipstick sales go up. What does this mean for you? Success is on the way. One Mary Kay vendor says 2008 has been a boon to the company. The moment is now. Sign up to become an Independent Beauty Consultant today!
Lottery. You, too, can win instantly as a lottery director. This year, 22 states with lotteries set sales records. Not interested in a career change? Multimillions can still be yours at less than 10 discretionary entertainment dollars a game. Hey, you never know.
Repo Man. Use your pent-up financial resentment to repossess other peoples' happiness. Mortgage lenders have turned to repossession 41 percent more this year than they did in 2007. Repossession could be your chance to take back the recession, one speedboat at a time. Who says America's not a land of opportunity?
Apparently having black national security advisers and black secretaries of state hasn't helped some folks at CNN get used to the idea of black people holding important foreign-policy jobs or, you know, being Americans. In early December, a CNN display described U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as a "former undersecretary of state for African American affairs." (Our italics.) But look, why pass up a perfectly good opportunity to speculate on an appointment just because the job is actually a network glitch? Here are our suggestions for the new undersecretary:
Jim Jones -- Rapper Jim Jones is one of the leaders of Dipset, short for "The Diplomats." Obviously we want diplomats in the State Department, and if Jones ever messes up he can push the blame onto National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones.
Shelby Steele -- The conservative race theorist recently wrote a book explaining how Obama would be unable to win the 2008 election. Obviously, he now needs a job.
Cynthia McKinney -- The former congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate would be an ideal candidate for schooling ignorant Americans on the finer points of black hair.
Parody, by T.A. Frank
I'm not much of a letter writer, I guess, but I wanted to leave some advice for you as Laura and I move out. That's what Bill Clinton did for me, and it worked out pretty fine.
I don't want to get too deep into policy this or policy that, but here's some stuff I think you should know:
The White House gym is pretty good, and I added some important new equipment in order to intensify my fitness experience. I acquired the GM4500 because its padding was soft and stylish but still gave my body the support it needed to concentrate on my abductors and quadriceps. I also recommend you try adding extra free weights to intensify your glute workout. Condi agrees.
On the economy, I'm not super clear on where we are right now, but I do think the whole sucker could probably implode or something. Hammer and Nanke-pank have been pretty worked up, but they're good men and doing their level best to get us back to where we need to be. Also, the American people want reassurance, and that's why I get up there on that TV screen and remind them that I'm still here, every day, up to something, maybe a lot, maybe a little, but always something.
24 is one very awesome show that will get you all juiced up for crushing evildoers. And, you know, as I was saying to my good friend Prime Minister Koizumi the other day, even Jack Bauer makes some mistakes sometimes. And it just -- it makes you feel better if you've made a mistake about what peoples or nations to invade and so on. Sometimes, it just keeps me guessing, like that one where Jack's addicted to heroin, but he's got to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel to intercept a deadly virus. But he just does his thing and saves our butts. That's what it's all about.
You should probably keep an eye on Joe Biden, just to make sure he's managing the government how you like it. If you don't like the folks he's picked to be in charge of OMB, or to be deputy national security adviser, or undersecretary of state -- that sort of stuff -- just talk to him, and I tell you what: He'll listen. And when he's having all these meetings, and you want to know something about them, don't be afraid to ask. He's there to help you be the decider. And if you ever doubt it, look in the mirror and say what I used to say in my campaign: I'm a leader. I know how to lead. Say -- how come you don't ever say that?
The Question: What new committee should Joe Lieberman be appointed to chair?
"The Select Committee on Unctuous Smirking and Self-Righteousness"
-- Paul Waldman Media Matters
"A subcommittee of his Homeland Security Committee -- looking into citizen disloyalty"
-- Curtis Gans, Director of Center for the Study of the American Electorate, American University
"The Committee on Party-Switching and Republocratic Affairs"
-- Dr. Larry Sabato Director of Center for Politics, UVA