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Are Style Points All That Count in Political Analysis?

10/12/2012 02:31 pm ET | Updated Dec 12, 2012

Oh please. This isn't an Olympic ice skating event or American Idol. Don't the news media have something more valuable to write about than Joe Biden's grin?

Has the presidential race been reduced to a succession of style points and who spins them best?

Like many of you, I watched yesterday's vice presidential debate. Joe Biden smiled too much. In the split screen era, it sometimes was a distraction. No dispute.

He also effectively pinned Paul Ryan against a wall, pierced some of the repeated lies on taxes and Medicare that the GOP ticket spews at every chance, and challenged Ryan to give specifics on how the Romney-Ryan tax plan would balance the budget and what would be different about their foreign policy toward Iran and Syria. Ryan didn't provide those specifics. I suspect, he couldn't.

As for style, if we must obsess on it, I thought Ryan looked like a smug little Boy Scout making believe he'd roughed it in the wilderness of Afghanistan and ticking off talking points from his debate-prep books.

No doubt. Joe Biden is a guy who is never quite button down, even with a tie. He's a guy from Scranton, Pa., who is passionate about the middle class. Does that make him "unhinged," as one GOP Twitter hashtag reported by The Times, #BidenUnhinged, suggests! That's the best Republican retort? And the news media are actually making that gruel for the day's news?

Pleeeeeease. Read All About It: Did Joe Biden Go Too Far? Answer: No. He was awfully darn good.

It's not as if Biden danced around Ryan shouting, "liar, liar, pants on fire" -- though that could have made his point, too. What Biden actually said was that Ryan was talking "malarkey," which is a rather polite way of calling someone a liar.

Unhinged? It's true, Biden sometimes talked over Ryan -- who went on, and on and on without interruption from moderator Martha Raddatz (don't count me among all those who thought she was terrific). And I loved it when he did. Biden showed grit. He showed passion. He commanded facts.

So why are the news media, which credited Mitt Romney correctly for being aggressive (and sometimes interrupting) in the first debate, wasting their time tut-tutting over Joe Biden's grin? Is it because Republicans spin hyperbolic claims better than the Democrats? Something else? You tell me.

I'd write more, but modeling lessons call. You see, I'm thinking of running for City Council, and I want to make sure I develop Mitt Romney's blow-dry smile and Paul Ryan's little cowlick.

Oh darn; I don't have any hair. Well, maybe I could learn to lie with impunity instead.