Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Romney has locks on victory

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BRISBANE -- Mitt Romney has the November election nailed, not because he's wealthy and intimately acquainted with the dizzying possibilities of private-equity capitalism, but because he has a full head of hair.

Americans have elected presidents who have lost farms (Madison), clothing stores (Harry Truman) and wives (Fillmore) but they've given up on electing anyone foolhardy enough to lose their hair.

Romney's dark, Reaganesque quiff, rising confidently from the forehead and sweeping majestically across the vertex, also sprouts enough silver grey to convey a politically intoxicating message -- solid maturity firmly linked to youthful vigour.

Obama's hairline, on the other hand, appears to be in a slow retreat, meaning the great orator is irretrievably doomed to electoral oblivion and a lucrative lap around the international public-speaking circuit.

Such insightful political analysis from an Australian might surprise Canadians. But when it comes to American politics, we're as vigilant Down Under as you are Up Yonder.

The fact Americans won't elect a baldy (or, as witty Australians often quip, a nude nut) causes great discomfort in this country so closely linked economically and militarily with the global superpower.

Americans did elect Eisenhower, but that was before television kicked in. When JFK appeared hatless at his 1960 inauguration to better display that magnificent follicular symphony of chestnut brown, the game was up for the eggheads.

Ford was not elected and LBJ was not bald -- just receding -- while perfectly legitimate White House candidates like Rudy Giuliani have been ruthlessly weeded out purely, it would seem, because they're not blessed with a Clinton-like coiffure.

Australians are not given to elaborate political conspiracy theories, seldom requesting multiple copies of their leaders' birth certificates or questioning the religious significance of the prime minister's middle name.

But this deliberate discrimination against the bald in a world of equal opportunity does test our normally trusting natures.

It's clearly some form of secret society, the hirsute equivalent of the Masonic handshake. The haired are obviously plotting to marginalize the hairless, and it's an open secret in many quarters the sparsely endowed Ross Perot was not a crazy Texan but a potentially brilliant supreme commander ruthlessly sidelined by the follicular elite.

Australia has steadfastly refused to play a role in this conspiracy, repeatedly electing as prime minister John Howard who, by the end of his decade-long tenure in 2007, was as bald as a baby's bum.

To his great credit, Howard was an aggressively nude nut, ruthlessly slashing away at those tendrils that crawled up past his ears and removing the possibility of a credible comb-over.

Today we have the closely cropped Opposition leader Tony Abbott (widely tipped to be the next prime minister), who sports an ever-widening moonscape on the crown of his otherwise well forested head.

Abbott, like his mentor Howard, stoutly refuses those shameful, Donald-Trump-like subterfuges to hide the awful truth. But we do note, with appropriately diplomatic courtesy, while we generously accept them on the political landscape, you Canadians don't seem all that enamoured with the skinheads.

Certainly, Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a baldy in later years, Arthur Meighen was thinning and Sir Mackenzie Bowell had what we might call "a sparse front lawn.''

Ever since the early '60s and Lester B. Pearson's arrival, you've demonstrated a tolerance for high foreheads and receding hairlines -- even an occasional comb-over.

But you have never, in the modern era, allowed an out-and-out, loud-and-proud, "I'm-bald-and-I-don't- give-a-damn'' cue ball to emerge from your national closet and lead you into a glorious non-discriminatory future, where even a baldilocks can feel warmly cherished as a valued citizen.

We make no accusations on your role in the ruthless rise of this fleecy little global conspiracy.

We're just taking note.

Michael Madigan is the Winnipeg Free Press Australia correspondent. He writes mostly about politics for the Brisbane-based Courier-Mail.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2012 A13

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