As anyone who has walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol can attest, the hairstyles of male politicians oftentimes rival Stonehenge for implausible construction.
Perhaps it is easy for me to say, since I don't have to brandish my own rapidly receding hairline on C-Span, but Indiana voters seem to be treated to more than our share of toupees, hair plugs and comb-overs elaborate enough to make Donald Trump blush.
But, if hair provided the window on the political soul, the true look of the moment would be the faux-hawk.
"Essentially, a faux-hawk is for those who want the image of a daring Mohawk but are not willing to fully commit."
If you don't know, a faux-hawk features short hair on the sides of the head with a longer spike of hair in the middle, a timid imitation of the stark Mohawk style. (Think of a mullet, only a little less classy.) Essentially, a faux-hawk is for those who want the image of a daring Mohawk but are not willing to fully commit.
The look fits most of Indiana's delegation in Congress, including Senators Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar, since they portray themselves as "deficit hawks" but are not making a serious commitment to cutting our most profligate spending of all -- war dollars.
Leaders who shed crocodile tears over the mounting federal debt gloss over the remarkable fact that one quarter of our federal budget is military spending, a percentage so out of whack that we spend nearly as much on warfare as the rest of the world combined. The cost of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan alone will soon hit $1 trillion.
The National Priorities Project's Web site, costofwar.com, features disturbingly rapid counters tallying in real time the U.S. dollars being spent on missiles and guns, along with estimates of the alternatives -- healthcare, millions of college scholarships, strong preschool education -- which could take the place of bloated deals for defense contractors.
"Leaders who shed crocodile tears over the mounting federal debt gloss over the remarkable fact that one quarter of our federal budget is military spending."
Meanwhile, Senator Bayh brags that "there's no bigger deficit hawk in Congress than I am" and attributes his surprise decision not to seek re-election in part on his disgust with Congress' lack of commitment to cutting the deficit. Senator Lugar couches his opposition to the historic opportunity for health-care reform on his concerns about the federal budget.
Yet both reliably support grotesque amounts of military spending, and both oppose a war surtax to ensure transparency and accountability. Last fall, Bayh and Lugar heeded the bidding of military contractors GE and Rolls Royce to successfully lobby for an extra half a billion dollars to be spent on an alternative engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet -- despite the fact that even the Department of Defense insisted the program was not needed.
So the bleeding, both literal and fiscal, flows on. And what does the United States get in return for the trillion-plus dollars we have spent on our current wars? Our troops are being ambushed in foreign lands, we are vulnerable to fanatics with explosives in their underpants, and, according to those crying loudest about the federal deficit, we are too broke to address critical needs at home.
But don't the faux-hawks look good on television?
Fran Quigley is a Visiting Professor of Law at the Indiana University School of Law--Indianapolis. He can be reached at email@example.com.