Column: Could Hair Determine the Next FBI Director?

Robert Mueller
By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Could the new director of the FBI win out by a hair — or many hairs?

I know this may sound silly, but I have a theory about hair and certain jobs.  And I think this theory could be applicable to the hunt for a replacement for FBI Director Robert Mueller III, who steps down in September. My theory is: A good head of hair could win out after all other considerations are taken into account.  (Of course my theory only applies to  men since no woman whose name has popped up is lacking in hair.)

Let me explain further. When I was at the Washington Post, I occasionally kidded a friend in management,  who was in his 40s at the time, who sported a  full, youthful head of hair — a Dennis the Menace coif if you will.

J. Edgar Hoover

I would say to him:  “You’ve got  the right head of hair, you’re going places here.”  After all, I said,  the top two spots at the paper — at least when I was there — were always occupied by people with full heads of youthful hair. No bald folks, no real folks with serious receding hairlines. Us folks with thinning hair notice these things.

Louis Freeh
Clarence Kelley

I thought  about this the other day when I heard the latest rumor that  Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Justice Department Criminal Division and the ex-head of Homeland Security, might be a contender for the FBI director job.

I  thought a moment, then jokingly said to myself, “Nah, not enough hair.”

Silly? Yes. Still, history speaks volumes.

Look at Mueller. At 66, he still maintains  a world-class, full head of hair. Ex-director Louie Freeh, while he was not quite as follically blessed,  had plenty hair,  as did  William Sessions and Clarence Kelley.  Patrick Gray, who served as acting director from May 1972 to April of the following year, didn’t have much hair at all, but then again, he was only acting director. And the grandaddy of them all, J. Edgar Hoover had a first-rate, fine  head of hair when he started out on the job.

Michael Chertoff
Ken Wainstein
James Comey

So who does that leave us with if we apply  the hair theory, assuming the new director is a man?

Here’s some of the hair-blessed candidates:  Former Justice lawyers Ken Wainstein and James Comey;  Sec. of Homeland Security John Pistole and  Virginia U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.

Chicago U.S. Attorney has more hair than not, but has a receding hairline. He’s somewhere in between.

Then there’s the more follically challenged candidates:  Former FBI agent Mike Mason, N.Y. City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Michael Leiter, chief of National Counterterrorism Center.

I could be 100 percent wrong.

And this all may seem even sillier when a nominee is finally picked. But in the mean time, we can only guess if hair will rule in this matter.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo
Mike Mason/fbi photo
NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo
U.S. Atty. Neil MacBride
John Pistole/dhs photo
Michael Leiter

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