Ryan’s beard

Paul Ryan has been a congressman for 14 years, and a nationally prominent figure for the last three years. Yet in his every public appearance, including the one this morning where his selection as Romney’s vice presidential running mate was announced, he looks conspicuously unshaven. Like two other famous “dark Irishmen,” Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy (also a Wisconsin Republican), Ryan evidently has a very heavy beard, and when appearing in public he obviously needs to shave at least a couple of times a day. And in our image-centric age, no one—not his wife, not his advisors—has told him this?

- end of initial entry -

August 12

Nik S. writes:

And he gave his 15-minute speech not even wearing a tie. He reminded me of Kermit the Frog.

Ryan may have many virtues, but apparently “dressing to the occasion” is not one of them.

August 12

Dan R. writes:

Romney wasn’t wearing a tie either. They seem to feel a compulsion to dress down to their audiences, to demonstrate they’re just regular folk.

Al H. writes:

In regards to Congressman Ryan’s beard. I would guess that as of yesterday, when he was picked, the Romney campaign have people making conscience decisions on Ryan’s appearance. I’m sure that includes not wearing a tie and even the unshaven look. Everything’s about packaging in modern politics. Personally the five o’clock shadow is less offensive to me then the whole Sarah Palin makeover debacle from the last time.

David H. writes:

I don’t recall Nixon having any Irish ancestry.

LA replies:

Nixon was not Catholic Irish, but he was often referred to as of “dark Irish” type.

Mark Jaws writes:

Ryan’s elevation to the national ticket is an appeal to the independent, white suburban voter. Somehow, someway, even in a Democratic leaning district in Wisconsin that has not gone Red since 1984, Ryan manages perennially to draw about 60% of the vote. Evidently, he wins about 20% of the Democratic constituency, whose members probably care more about what the man says than the clothes he wears. Besides, it has been an oppressively hot summer here in Virginia. This was an outdoor staged event to introduce Paul Ryan to the GOP rank and file and the independent northern VA voters. Given the setting and the intent, I think he was appropriately dressed.

Carney writes:

I disagree with Mark Jaws. I was very much bothered by Romney’s lack of a jacket, and Ryan’s lack of a tie.

It was especially important for Ryan to wear a tie given his youth and youthful appearance. He aspires to be a leader, and needs to visibly project and embody that seriousness and commitment he is so often praised for.

I would note that the President of Iran deliberately refuses to wear a tie even at the most formal occasions such a reviewing honor guards of the host nation at state visits, because he correctly views the necktie as the sine qua non symbol of legitimate Western white authority.

August 15

Daniel F. writes:

Not that it matters, but from what I’ve found on the Internet, Nixon appears to have been of predominantly English ancestry. Perhaps he also had some Scotch-Irish ancestry, as well. On Wikipedia, I read that his father was born a Methodist, which suggests English ancestry. His mother’s maiden name, Milhouse, does not have a Celtic ring to it.

LA replies:

Below is an excerpt from a very thorough treatment of his ancestry. He was 10-15 percent Scots-Irish. So he is not “dark Irish.”

Also, when I google

“Richard Nixon” “dark Irish”

the two top results, and the only two that actually describe him as “dark Irish, are at VFR. So I remembered something that I had read about Richard Nixon in my teens which is not correct and I’m the only person in the world pushing the idea that he was “dark Irish.”

Q. How Scotch-Irish Was Nixon?
A. Richard Nixon was 10-15% Scotch-Irish.

Confirmed Scotch-Irish lines are 9.4% of Nixon’s total ancestral stock (Or 1.5/16; See lines #7, 8, 9).

Records of several Nixon ancestral lines “go cold” in the mid-1700s (lines #4, 10, 11, 15, and 16). Scotch-Irish immigration to America began in earnest around 1720. Some of these lines could have Scotch-Irish individuals in them. Lines #15 and #16 likely have no Scotch-Irish—those two lines go cold in mid-1700s New Jersey: Not a place settled in significant numbers by the Scotch-Irish. Lines #4, #10, and #11 (all going cold in mid-1700s Pennsylvania) are more likely to have some Scotch-Irish among them, being as they were on the frontier, where the Scotch-Irish settled. On the other hand, no names in these lines jump-out as typically Scotch-Irish. Assuming that individuals #4, #10, and #11 were, on average, ~25% Scotch-Irish , that would put Nixon at 14.1% Scotch-Irish by ancestry overall. If these three were 12.5% Scotch-Irish on average, Nixon would be 11.7% Scotch-Irish overall.

LA continues:

Another thing I remembered wrong: the expression is not “dark Irish” but “Black Irish.” From Wiki:

Black Irish is an ambiguous term used mainly outside of Ireland.[citation needed] Over the course of history, and in different parts of the Irish diaspora throughout the world, it has been subject to several unique but somewhat overlapping meanings encompassing physical appearance, religious affiliation, ethnicity, subculture and poverty. Modern traditionalists, however, maintain the term to be synonymous with a dark-haired phenotype exhibited by certain individuals originally descended from Ireland. Opinions vary in regard to what is perceived as the usual physical characteristics of the so-called Black Irish: e.g., dark hair, brown eyes and medium skin tone; or dark hair, blue or green eyes and fair skin tone. Unbeknown to some who have used this term at one time or another, dark hair in people of Irish descent is extremely common, although darker skin complexions appear less frequently.

Daniel F. writes:

Aha! So Nixon was our first black president! This explains why his administration began the federal government’s promotion of affirmative action.

More seriously, I have heard the term “black Irish” before, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it applied to Nixon. Also, speaking of Joseph McCarthy, the typical speaking style of white male Democratic politicians today, particularly urban Catholic types like Biden, very much reminds me of McCarthy’s bombastic, shouting, exaggeratedly masculine speaking style. The same is true of leftwing talking heads like Chris Matthews and the other fat guy on MSNBC (Ed Schultz, I think). It’s as if they are trying to cover up the substance of their positions by posing as ultra-macho regular guys who like football, beer and beating up nerds.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 11, 2012 11:41 PM | Send

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