The Hair Apparent


Beside all the political and electoral stuff we were talking about last night, I mentioned my strong belief that Jeb 2.0! had gotten a new hairstyle, something that seemed lost on the purportedly close-watching pundit class. TPM colleagues were not convinced. But with the exception of David Kurtz, who has little excuse, I’ve been at this much longer. And I think reader response and photographic evidence bears me out.

We got a number of TPM Reader emails noting the difference. But I think TPM Reader MR has the most detailed breakdown …

Hi Josh,

I’m going to agree with you that a hairdresser got of hold of Jeb and changed his look a bit. I noticed this at the last debate as well. After looking at a few photos, my conclusion is he has colored his hair (slightly darker and less gray), and given it some depth (it was somewhat wispy before) with hair gels, so it looks thicker, and I’m sure he hopes it makes him look younger. Seems to have given him some more confidence too, the bully kind.

A long-time fan of TPM and a Prime subscriber, thanks Josh,

This was my read too. A bit of darkening – I’d say some Brill Cream, but that’s way old school. Hair product has come a long way and Jeb’s campaign is known for making aggressive use of new technologies. And then some thickening and a bit oil-ification, perhaps as a nod to the fossil fuels industry. As MR notes, there was a bit of a whispy, frail look to Jeb’s hair until now, in line with his low-energy, knocked-around demeanor.

TPM Reader MM had a similar take …

Definitely a new ‘do. More slicked-down, with kind of a body wave/proto-pompadour

So let’s look at some pictures.

First, two from the debate last night in South Carolina.

First, you note the rather dark hair, the vaguely louche proto-pompadour as MR puts

Now, in this picture from August, I think we can see Jeb is significantly grayer, no proto-pompador and just generally dry and thin.

From mid-January …

From early February …

From August …

I admit the difference can be subtle. But after all, in such a high profile position he can hardly pull a Molesly from Downton Abbey. It has to be subtle. But I think this photographic analysis shows substantial evidence of darkening, volumnizing and a wetter look, perhaps inspired by early Mad Men episodes.

On its own, changing hairstyles may be unremarkable. But it coincides with the appearance of a more vigorous and assertive Jeb, called within the campaign Jeb!! 2.0. So the younger and more robust hairstyle does not seem like an accident.