Charlie Crist Plays Anti-Gay Hair Politics with Rubio?

Charlie Crist’s playing a queer game of politics down in Florida, where the Governor’s currently in the midst of a Senatorial primary war with fellow Republican Marco Rubio. The latest polls don’t bode well for Crist, which may explain his bizarre, and insidious, comments about Rubio getting his back waxed. His remarks smack of the ambiguously homophobic “hair politics” that haunted John Edwards. They also provide another example of Crist’s desperation.

Rubio came under fire two weeks ago, when it was revealed that he had used a Republican Party credit card to spend $130 at a salon. Now Crist’s latched onto the story and suggested to Fox News’ Greta Van Sustern that Rubio may not have been getting a haircut at all, but, rather, a back wax. Said the Governor:

[Rubio’s] trying to pawn himself off as a fiscal conservative. And yet just in reason weeks, two weeks ago it has come out in news accounts he had a Republican Party of Florida credit card that he charged $130 haircut, or maybe it was a back wax — we are not sure what all he got at that place.

Van Sustern didn’t quite know what to make of Crist’s comment, and asked, “Was there a suggestion it was for a back wax or are you being flip?” Crist, then claims that Rubio’s campaign said the bill wasn’t for a haircut, so that leaves people to wonder what exactly he was doing at the salon in the first place. The long and short of it, insists Crist, is that Rubio’s “perpetuating fraud” by “not being straightforward” with voters.

It sounds like pure, petty politics, but then there was also this speculative interjection, “I don’t know what you do at a salon we you are a guy… I get my haircut for $11 from a guy named Carl the Barber.” It’s funny that Crist, who for so long has dodged gay rumors, would offer up his manly bona fides while calling Rubio’s into question. This is nothing more than a cheap, and all-too familiar, tactic.

Before his days as the most infamous baby daddy, John Edwards had quite the promising political career. He had built a successful law practice, had a gorgeous wife, gobs of money and sleek, shiny hair. That hair became quite the political talking point during the 2008 election, when it was revealed Edwards, that populist politicians, used campaign funds to pay $400 to trim his legendary locks. The right readily latched onto the story, and Ann Coulter repeatedly attempted to paint Edwards as fey, vain and, in the most infamous example, a “faggot.” Crist’s approach echoes the not-so-subtle association of sexuality and vanity.

Face it; men now spend as much, if not more, time on their appearance as women. And not just gay men: there was that whole “metrosexual” movement and a recent report that advertisers are planning an even more aggressive campaign for men’s money, which proves how male narcissism has fully integrated itself into the mainstream. Crist’s comments not only ignore admittedly silly cultural trends, but also take a cheap shot that’s meant to linger, fester even, in voters’ minds.

Rubio’s campaign insists that he’s paid back every cent from the salon. And, what’s more, the total included gifts for others, not simply a trim. In addition to coming across as vaguely homophobia, Crist’s cracks are a sign of desperation, a message Rubio’s campaign touched upon in their rebuttal: “Charlie Crist is the sitting governor of the 4th largest state who has fallen so far and so fast that he’s now reduced himself to making up stories about his opponent’s grooming habits.” My suggestion to Crist: keep your mind on policy, not hairy innuendo.

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