Obama is more, um, seasoned

Barack Obama’s youthful image may have helped propel him to the Democratic presidential nomination, but as he prepares to formally become his party’s standard-bearer in the November election, his closely shorn hair appears to be increasingly gray.

A little salt in the pepper might come in handy for a candidate who faces questions about whether he has enough experience from Republican rival John McCain, who turns 72 on Friday.

On the campaign trail in recent weeks, Obama told supporters the new hue was from the rigors of spending long months on the road campaigning for votes.

“I’ve been running for president for 19 months, which explains the gray hair,” the 47-year-old said.


Zariff, a Chicago barber who goes by one name and who has cut Obama’s hair for about 15 years, said he first noticed the gray about three years ago.

“It has showed up a little bit more, especially in the past year,” said Zariff, who has worked at the Hyde Park Hair Salon and Barber Shop for nearly two decades.

Obama’s haircuts are unlikely to become a political liability.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who tried to cultivate a populist image before he dropped out of the presidential race, paid $400 for a haircut.


Zariff charges $21.

Zariff said he cuts Obama’s hair once a week.

“Mostly, he comes right here to the shop, where he’s been coming for a long time,” he said.

“If he’s on the road for too long, I make sure I get out there” to where he is.


Zariff said Obama is a generous tipper but declined to name the amount.

“That’s personal,” he said, adding, “I’ve never complained.”

-- Seema Mehta