AGAIN WITH THE HAIRCUT?….A year ago, John Solomon wrote a series of odd and misleading articles attacking Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), accusing him of ethical lapses. The closer one looked at the criticisms, the weaker the charges looked. Months later, Reid was cleared of any wrongdoing, while Solomon was rewarded — in December he joined the Washington Post’s national desk, heading up an investigative “team,” ostensibly focusing on the intersection of money and politics.

Since then, Solomon has run an odd front-page piece on John Edwards selling his house, a bizarre front-page expose on Hillary Clinton’s charitable donations, and a sloppy piece on a Nancy Pelosi earmark for a San Francisco waterfront redevelopment project.

Yesterday, however, Solomon out did himself, devoting nearly 1,300 words to the “controversy” surrounding John Edwards’ haircut.

At first, the haircuts were free. But because [Joseph] Torrenueva often had to fly somewhere on the campaign trail to meet his client, he began charging $300 to $500 for each cut, plus the cost of airfare and hotels when he had to travel outside California. Torrenueva said one haircut during the 2004 presidential race cost $1,250 because he traveled to Atlanta and lost two days of work. […]

It is some kind of commentary on the state of American politics that as Edwards has campaigned for president, vice president and now president again, his hair seems to have attracted as much attention as, say, his position on health care. But when his campaign reported in April that it had paid for two of his haircuts at $400 each, the political damage was immediate. With each punch line on late night TV his image as a self-styled populist making poverty his signature issue was further eroded.

Solomon goes into considerable detail, documenting how often Torrenueva has cut Edwards’ hair, how much the various cuts cost, when the cuts started, when the cuts ended, how the two men met, what they have in common, and how Torrenueva feels about the “controversy.”

I was particularly struck by Solomon’s contention that the story about Edwards’ hair is “some kind of commentary on the state of American politics.” Solomon passively laments that this has “attracted as much attention as, say, his position on health care.”

He seems oblivious to the irony. It’s attracting attention because of articles like his. If Solomon thinks reflects this poorly on the “state of American politics,” he could … what’s the phrase I’m looking for … write about something else.

As Anonymous Liberal put it, “It’s as if there is some sort of inexorable force at work here. The hair just attracts attention all on its own, like a magnet attracting metal objects. Journalists like John Solomon apparently have no role in this process.”

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.