whisker drought

Paul Ryan Reinforces His Young-Gun Brand by Growing Some Scruff

Photo: Paul Ryan/Twitter

The story of Paul Ryan’s rise to the Speakership earlier this fall was marked by some of the same “will they, won’t they” that usually comes standard in rom-coms. He loves his job, but he had some hang-ups. The new role could cut down on family time and the precious few hours he gets in the gym.

Now, just a month into his new position, Ryan is looking pretty comfortable, returning from the long Thanksgiving weekend with something approaching a beard.

Ryan’s three-day scruff — he attributes the style change to his hunting beard habit — makes him the first Speaker in 90 years to sport facial hair in Washington. He broke the whisker drought that has been in effect since the anti-polygamist Speaker Frederick H. Gillett left the chair in 1925.

Prior to that, facial hair had a long history at the top of the House, to varying degrees of success. The House’s History, Art & Archives Department noted in 2013 that Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed ruffled a few feathers in 1895 when he grew a mustache that the Boston Daily Globe characterized as a “downward curve that promises to give his smile more the general appearance of a sneer.” Then-Speaker Reed turned up on Capitol Hill clean-shaven a month later.

A spokesperson for Mr. Ryan said his wife gets the final say on whether the trend is reborn, noting, “He’ll keep it as long as Janna lets him.”   

Paul Ryan Returns From Thanksgiving With a Beard