Chuck Todd’s Goatee: End of an Era?

“Chuck Todd is keeping the goatee, after all.
Todd has chosen instead to donate $1,000 to both his charity — Samaritan Inns — and Tapper’s, Dr. Shershah Syed.”
Huffington Post, October 22, 2009

HOWARD MEGDAL: Relief is the only word that comes to mind over the news that Chuck Todd, whose political acuity set the standard for a generation of political junkies, will not be shaving his goatee, which set the standard for a generation of Chuck Todd’s face.

Instead, Todd will give $1,000 to a worthy charity to help the homeless recover their shattered lives. This has earned him a fair amount of scorn, with people presumably coming to the conclusion that money to help a truly worthy organization is less useful to society than ripping the goatee of political knowledge from the face of unparalleled electoral calculations.

While working for National Journal, when a particularly prescient political story was written, one need only scroll upward to see what was usually the name of Chuck Todd at the byline. The Hotline, for anyone who has been fortunate enough to experience it, was like reading the Almanac of American Politics every day. In the time before RSS feeds, it provided limitless coverage, with incisive commentary that RSS feeds cannot touch.

Sound like a rough job, requiring encyclopedic political knowledge? Chuck Todd did it for six years.

It is similarly hard to imagine a better team of political analysis than Chuck Todd and Tim Russert during the riveting 2008 primaries. Is it fair to say that the 2008 political primary analysis would have suffered had Chuck Todd been goatee-less? At the very least, we can assert that he had his goatee- and that coverage was the best there ever was.

So I still miss the Chuck Todd free from policy, the one on display in the fantastic read “How Barack Obama Won“, the analyst who NBC somehow uses less frequently than David Gregory, of all people. He’s very good at his job now, but it is like using Babe Ruth in a horse race- he’s the best baseball player that ever lived. Let him swing the bat.

And let him keep the goatee. The day Chuck Todd shaves is the day some of the best moments in recent political coverage become indelibly marked as the past. And that will be a sad day for America.

CHRIS PUMMER: Todd might be keeping the goatee a while longer, but this observer thinks it’s time for the powerhouse political analyst to move on.

It’s my own tragic experiences with facial hair that inform me that Todd is being held back by the billy goat look. A consummate professional should not saddle himself with such an amateur style.

Todd’s second thoughts are not dissimilar to what many go through around the time they’re ready to leave college or graduate to a better job than working a cell phone kiosk.

I shaved my goatee and immediately tried to replace it. First with a full beard. The grizzly man look didn’t work. So I experimented with a soul patch. That led to random strangers asking me if I was holding — and me to think I was the target of a drug bust.

That really only speaks to how your appearance projects a piece of your identity. Todd probably feels like his goatee is a huge part of his. But that’s not a good thing. Not because the goatee makes Todd ugly. But because it only distracts us from how good he is at his job.

It seemed like every semester I went to college, I had at least one class with a guy who’d I’d nickname in my mind Experimental Facial Hair Guy. One week it would be a goatee. The next week mutton chops. Then a porn star mustache. By finals time it would always degenerate into a ridiculous neck beard.

But the next semester I’d run into the same guy, now clean-shaven. I’d ask about the look and the responses varied. It was shaven to interview for internships. Or the thick mess was removed under orders from a girlfriend. Or they just got tired of it. More likely they grew out of letting it grow out.

The bottom line is they were ready to move on to better things.

I’d like to think we have yet to see the very best of Chuck Todd. By that I mostly mean his work, but also his chin.

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