Afghan woman cuts Bush's hair
From John Vause
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Zahira Zahir has the kind of access to the politically powerful that Washington lobbyists only dream they had.
Every two weeks, she meets one on one with President Bush in the family quarters of the White House.
It's the same appointment she had with his father and former President Reagan as the Republican Party's designated hairdresser for almost 20 years.
"It's not that I would not cut a Democrat's hair. I need the money," she said.
She especially needs the money, she said, after losing dozens of clients since September 11. She said she believes they stopped coming because she's from Afghanistan.
"I was pleasantly surprised that the president didn't fire me or didn't stop letting me come cut his hair," said Zahir, who works out of the exclusive Watergate complex. "That shows you the character and the personality of the person and the country."
Zahir came to the United States in the 1970s as a diplomat's wife. But when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, she was stranded in New York with three children and an unemployed husband, unable to return home.
She took a job in Washington assisting Reagan's barber. But one day when the barber fell ill, Reagan asked her to fill in.
"And he was the first president to let a woman cut his hair," she said.
Zahir said she supports the war in Afghanistan, and while she has been asked occasionally, she's reluctant to offer her opinion to President Bush, whom she calls her "very, very favorite customer."
"I go as a hairdresser or a barber, not as their consultant person," said Zahir, who charges $30 for a men's haircut. "I am not their adviser, and that is why I have been very successful in my business. I mind my own business."
For the record, the president leaves a generous tip, she said.
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