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President-elect Donald Trump announced ExxonMobil chairman and chief executive officer Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state last week, casting aside several finalists, including former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, for the top Cabinet post.
And according to the Washington Post, Trump’s choice was driven by several superficial factors.
“Trump believes that those who aspire to the most visible spots in his administration should not just be able to do the job, but also look the part,” the Post reported. “Several of Trump’s associates said they thought that John R. Bolton’s brush-like mustache was one of the factors that handicapped the bombastic former United Nations ambassador in the sweepstakes for secretary of state.”
“He likes people who present themselves very well,” Chris Ruddy, Trump’s longtime associate, told the paper. “And he’s very impressed when somebody has a background of being good on television because he thinks it’s a very important medium for public policy.”
Bolton, a lawyer who served in the last three Republican administrations and is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel, would seem to have the experience Trump is looking for. But according to one Post source, it was Bolton’s mustache that did him in:
“Donald was not going to like that mustache,” said one associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly. “I can’t think of anyone that’s really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes.”
Indeed, the only Trump Cabinet pick to sport facial hair so far is Ben Carson, the president-elect’s choice for housing and urban development secretary. And in his case, the current state of Carson’s ’stache is unclear.
A spokesperson for the Trump transition did not immediately return a request for comment.
— Mustache Institute (@MustacheTalk) December 22, 2016
That Trump would include appearance on his list of considerations for West Wing employment shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is, after all, someone who rose to fame as a reality television star and, some would argue, ran his presidential campaign like one.
While facial hair and overall presentation may be a disqualifier for those seeking a Trump Cabinet post, there is one position for which it is not: personal physician to the president.
Late Thursday afternoon, Bolton himself addressed the growing situation.
I appreciate the grooming advice from the totally unbiased mainstream media, but I will not be shaving my #mustache.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) December 22, 2016
“I appreciate the grooming advice from the totally unbiased mainstream media,” Bolton tweeted, “but I will not be shaving my #mustache.”