The other day Paul Kengor had a column about Joe Biden titled "Old Smirkin' Joe".
Not for nothing the term "smirk." That smirk was everywhere tonight in the debate with Paul Ryan -- and one finds it impossible to believe that was anything but bad news for the Obama campaign. Not since the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate in which a pale Nixon, his shirt collar too big and his dark eyes darting around nervously on every black-and-white TV in America (as it was then) has a candidate had such a problem with his looks and mannerisms.
Biden was Al Gore on steroids… and Al Gore lost a debate for sighing and going out of his way to make facial expressions that showed a wildly misplaced sense of arrogant superiority over George W. Bush.
The Biden smile tonight was glaringly out of place for reasons of simple respect to Ryan, not to mention the individual topics being discussed. What's to smirk about when discussing a dead Ambassador? Iran and the bomb? The unemployment rate in Biden's hometown of Scranton? Which, by the way, was clearly news to Biden.
What was the big lesson of that Kennedy-Nixon debate? Yes indeed -- it was all about how one looks on television. On radio Americans of the day thought Nixon won. But the televised image of Nixon -- and the cool, handsome JFK -- ruled the day. The debate - and the election -- went to JFK.
Joe Biden looked terrible. And it will cost him.