Ethics Quiz: Covidiot Or Responsible Leader?

The mayor and her hairdresser…

Remember the gag in the original Batman movie, after the Joker poisons some soap and cosmetic products and news anchors go on the air looking like hell? This story reminded me of that.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has just recently pivoted to race-baiting as a strategy for getting through the pandemic—nice— was forced into defending getting a $500 haircut in defiance of her own state’s  stay-at-home order.  Lightfoot had appeared recent in a public service announcement urging Chicagoans to stay home to save lives. She also spoke to her city’s women specifically, saying “Getting your roots done is not essential.” I would interpret this as “Forget about vanity: this is a national crisis.” Hairstylists and barbers are not on Illinois’ list of essential businesses and must be closed during the Wuhan virus outbreak.

Nonetheless, the Mayor had the city pay a hairdresser 500 dollars for a private hair-cutting session. If there was ever the appearance of a “laws are for the little people,” this episode is it.

The Mayor’s defense is that  because she’s “the face of this city,” maintaining her appearance is a special and necessary exception.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is..

Is the Mayor’s explanation and conduct ethical?

My answer: if that’s really the reason she brought in the hairdresser, yes, but she handled it all incompetently. Of course, there’s no way to know what her real motives were. Her credibility here is already shaky; for example, she said,  “The woman who cut my hair had a mask and gloves on, so I am practicing what I’m preaching.” Yet a  Facebook photo of Lightfoot with her hairstylist shows  neither wearing a face mask, and they are  just inches from each other.

As I noted yesterday in a comment about President Trump eschewing a face mask, a leader’s demeanor and appearance during a crisis matters a great deal. I recall an excellent Saturday Night Live skit during the 2000 campaign purporting to show alternate futures where a President Bush and a President Gore both addressed the nation during a crisis. Will  Farrell, as Bush, was shown addressing the nation disheveled and weeping with his desk on fire. Bad look..

A leader could use her unadorned appearance to make the point that everyone has to sacrifice; but the argument that a confident, professional appearance is an essential leadership tool has merit….not that I believe that anything but vanity and arrogance was behind this leader’s conduct.

Still, I’ll give Lightfoot the benefit of the doubt.

Will you?


25 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Covidiot Or Responsible Leader?

  1. She could’ve always worn a scarf if her hair wasn’t presentable. And oh my god is that the ‘after’ picture? $500 don’t buy what it used to.

  2. Why does yhe city pay for her personal care? A 500 dollar do is an abuse. A $10 box of Loreal Preference and an hour will do the trick. Her appearance is her responsibility.

  3. No. This is Chicago politics as usual, in which the elected elites demonstrate complete contempt for the voters, also known as “chumbalones.”

  4. I might go along with her rationaleif she laid out her own money but it looks like she is giving money to a friend. Women are very loyal to their stylist. Next question, how often has the Mayor paid 500 dollars for a cut no matter who pays the bill. The mayor would probably be leading the charge against price gouging if were something else the city buys.

  5. I’m a woman in Chicago. My roots are growing out. I say deal with it. Headbands and scarves are in style right now. Keep giving your stylist her tips so she’ll be there when you come back.

    Also please stop telling us to snitch on our neighbors for congregating, and maybe try to sound less like a middle school vice principal* when you close the biking and jogging trails because people weren’t distancing enough on one day.

    (*to be fair, running Chicago has got to be an awful lot like running a middle school. But dangit I’m going stir crazy here.)

  6. For this particular example I would say a good leader leads by example. It shows solidarity to suffer like the masses are suffering. She can beautify herself like everyone else is being forced to do.

  7. Since I shaved my beard to wear a mask properly, and gave myself a haircut last weekend, you can guess my opinion on the matter. That self-serving political hack obviously thinks that rules are for the little people.

    She isn’t going to find sympathy in my house unlsee she flips open page 1442 of Websters’ dictionary.

      • [Screen test for Dorothy Michaels (Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie)]:

        Rita: I’d like to make her look a little more attractive, how far can you pull back?
        Cameraman: How do you feel about Cleveland?

        • “Works for me.”*

          Okay Paulie, I can’t remember. What movie was that line delivered in so effectively?

            • Molto gratzie.

              The other day, a friend in the world wide world began reciting almost every line of note from “Dr. Strangelove,” particularly George C. Scott’s, even with correct accents. From wiki:

              Kubrick tricked Scott into playing the role of Gen. Turgidson far more ridiculously than Scott was comfortable doing. Kubrick talked Scott into doing over-the-top “practice” takes, which Kubrick told Scott would never be used, as a way to warm up for the “real” takes. Kubrick used these takes in the final film, causing Scott to swear never to work with Kubrick again.
              During the filming, Kubrick and Scott had different opinions regarding certain scenes, but Kubrick got Scott to conform largely by repeatedly beating him at chess, which they played frequently on the set. Scott, a skilled player himself, later said that while he and Kubrick may not have always seen eye to eye, he respected Kubrick immensely for his skill at chess.

  8. Her stylist wore a mask and gloves. Okay, great. Depending on whose house the haircut was done at, somebody is taking particles out of there on her clothes and shoes. Did Lightfoot also wear a mask? What did she breathe in if she didn’t?

    This is a time for leaders to lead by example, especially for the African-American community. I’ve read several articles over the last few days fretting about how difficult it’s been to convince many African-Americans of the science behind the spread of the virus (especially since the information coming to us about how the virus is spread, how long it lasts and whether masks do or do not help has been inconsistent).

    There’s this one, for example, about their particular vulnerability:

    As a black woman – especially a race-baiting one – Mayor LIghtfoot should be going above and beyond to demonstrate to black women the need to forgo the hair and nail visits for right now, come what may. Plenty of people in the public eye have, in the past, gone without during challenging times to encourage citizens to do the same.

    FDR ate Post Toasties for breakfast during World World II as an example to Americans (frankly, it was probably the best thing he ate during his time in the White House since the meals served there were notoriously bad after Mrs. Roosevelt dictated an economical menu to inspire American citizens to find nutritious alternatives). I believe it was King George V who, during World War I, chastised a guest for arriving late to breakfast and requesting a poached egg.

    If American citizens are going to be asked to forgo movies, birthdays, graduations, vacations, Sunday drives, eating out, worshiping together and having their hair and/or nails done, it behooves our elected officials to show that these sacrifices are necessary. We are willing to go without for a good cause, but it’s hard to convince us that the cause is just when VIPs are caught having parties. (like the wife of the mayor of Alton, IL – what’s up with Illinois? – who was busted when the police shut down a party at an illegally open bar).

    My grandmother is one of those old ladies with a standing appointment at her hairdresser to get her hair done every month. She hasn’t been for weeks. Her hair is hanging down like I’ve never seen before (she made a joke about it when I was on the phone with her on Sunday). I know what her hair looks like because my aunt took a photo of her the other day when she and my uncle went to visit her. They stood in the backyard and talked to her through the glass patio doors. They wouldn’t let her even open the door. My uncle is standing in front of the glass outside; Grandma is standing behind the glass inside the house.

    If my 89-year old grandmother can handle drooping hair, missing weeks of church and not seeing her family on Easter, I think Mayor Lightfoot can be a good example and let people see her with her hair down, too.

    • I’m with you on this one. Bad optics and a bad choice. It says her rules don’t apply to her, only to the ruled.

      Oh, and her rationale is poppycock, otherwise known as hokum.. Nobody would criticize her for having in unruly hair style at this time.


  9. I read the NPR interview. Mayor Lightfoot dropped a new term into the healthcare rebate: a racial equity rapid response team. No discussion of what that is, what it does, or its mandate. What is that?


  10. I’m tempted to make some comment referring to the phrase “lipstick on a pig”…but that might be misinterpreted.

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