House Speaker Paul Ryan, who’s seen his approval ratings plummet 24 points among Republicans since he was elected in late October, has buckled under pressure: He shaved off his beard.
“Fresh year. Fresh start. Fresh shave,” Ryan posted with a picture of his clean-shaven face on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon.
Ryan’s decision to shave his beard off — or at least his announcement — comes after a Breitbart News story on how national talk-radio host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday morning ripped Ryan as “the bearded wonder” who failed to stop Obama’s executive gun-control.
“I would love to see the bearded wonder Paul Ryan—he’s got to lose that beard, it makes him look ridiculous that beard, he should shave it, that is just horrible—that bearded wonder Paul Ryan giving Obama funding for his lawless behavior for the next 12 months,” Ingraham said, adding:
[It] removes congressional oversight, meaningful oversight through the power of the purse. Congress could have shut this thing before it even started, but no the bearded wonder came out and said ‘going forward we’re going to do things differently but we need to start the new year without the threat of a shutdown hanging.’ The bearded wonder has now given Obama the running room he needed to go for the guns. The bearded wonder. I liked him before the beard—I think he’s been worse since the beard.
Jesse Singal, a liberal who writes for New York Magazine, combed through millions of comments on Breitbart News stories in December to find a few comments that alleged that Ryan’s beard — which he grew as Speaker of the House — somehow means that he’s a secret Muslim. Shortly after his original column, Singal devolved into a public meltdown for hours straight on Twitter responding to Breitbart News readers, calling them “hateful idiots.”
Some others in the media have also promoted the idea that conservatives believe Ryan is a secret Muslim because of the beard — which is obviously insane and not true. Ryan is not a Muslim, and people don’t believe that he is. Even so, Ryan whined to President Barack Obama that people think he’s a Muslim because of the beard—something captured in a pre-Christmas column in the New York Times by Bloomberg’s Al Hunt.
“Mr. Ryan’s relations with Mr. Obama have sometimes been testy,” Hunt wrote in a column for the New York Times before Christmas. “But last week, as they were discussing the final deal on the phone, Mr. Ryan, who has grown a beard, told the president that some on the angry right have even accused him of being a Muslim. The president, who has long faced the same absurd allegation, chuckled.”