IN PORTLAND recently I watched the irreverent young Jack Ohman, the political cartoonist of the Oregonian, skillfully draw numerous public figures on transparencies flashed onto a screen. Naturally, he had to do Bill Clinton, the leader of the Western World.
The finished Clinton caricature made the president look like a big-hair person. Without referring to the First Cat, Socks, Ohman asserted, tongue-in-cheek, that it always seemed to him that Clinton had a cat on top of his head. Then he promptly put a tail on the drawing.Clinton didn't look handsome, but Ohman captured his essence.
Then it occurred to me we ought to be commiserating with Clinton instead of attacking him all the time.
When are we going to forgive him, for instance, for the infamous $200 haircut administered on the LAX runway by none other than that most gauche of all hairdressers - Christophe?
In the first place, it turns out the alleged runway delay of an hour was actually only 17 minutes. In the second place, Christophe denies absolutely that the president's haircut cost $200 - although he won't say what it did cost. In the third place, Clinton can't help it if Christophe has only one name, even though most barbers have two simple ones, like Bill Jones.
But as time marches on, I'm much more concerned about something else. The president got his last haircut on May 18, and he's not about to get another one - at least before his budget is approved.
But no matter when he decides he must get another haircut, we will all hear where he got it, from whom - and how much it cost.
The resulting publicity is pretty much guaranteed to be unpleasant.
In the meantime, the president is developing more and more into a big-hair kind of person - and that cat's tail is growing.
When are we going to let up on the poor man? He's got a lot of stuff to do.
Can we afford to have him attend the economic summit with his unruly gray hair growing all the way down his back?
Will it hurt our image as a superpower if our president represents us around the world in a pony tail?
Is he going to carry more clout with Congress if he sits down with politicians with a couple of barrettes in his hair?
It just doesn't seem right.
And, while we're on this hair business, what is the deal with Hillary?
What was wrong with the Patty Duke look - the headband worn with long, blond hair? Was she worried she wouldn't be taken seriously in a policymaking role unless she went to a frumpy PTA look?
Let's face it. Hillary used to look like a fun, sort of glamorous first lady - but in abandoning all pretense of glamour, she has lost something.
The new do is just awful.
The point is that the whole country is obsessed with Bill and Hill's hair, and it's got to stop. Besides, that alleged $200 haircut just made Bill look like a heavier Dick Van Dyke.
Why doesn't he just be himself? Send a sweet message to Christophe saying neither he nor Hillary will be using his services any more.
Hillary could let her hair grow out and snap on the headband.
Bill could go to some corner barbershop in D.C.'s downtown, accompanied by an army of photographers, and pay something like $10.
Then we could get down to business and officially begin the Clinton administration.
For goodness sake, let the man get a haircut.