The two vice presidential nominees, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden, were probably expecting yesterday to be a big day for them. Their only debate took place last night, the one evening where all eyes are on the presidential ticket’s no. 2 men. But I doubt that Ryan was expecting the attention he got from another source yesterday: A series of hilarious, strange, “are you sure they’re not Photoshopped” photos of him performing his much-discussed P90X workout. The photos, which were published by Time, provide yet more evidence that we’re in a new era in which male politicians are judged by their appearances, too. Oh, and by the way, did Biden really get a facelift?
First, let’s just say it: These new photos are ridiculous. They were taken back in December 2011, before Ryan had become the vice presidential nominee. But he was already a prominent congressman, so it’s hard to understand why he agreed to pose gazing at his own bicep, sporting a Zack Morris-esque backwards baseball cap, and doing … well, whatever he’s doing here.
Ryan secured the nomination in August, and his P90X routine instantly fascinated the press and the public. TMZ called his workouts “fierce” and published a “VP HOTTIE” slide show; Esquire analyzed his fashion sense. Back then, I wrote that this frivolous obsession with the VP nominee’s appearance was actually a refreshing sign of equality: Finally, a male politician was subjected to the same physical scrutiny that women like Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Kirsten Gillibrand have put up with for years.
Meanwhile, at least one commentator tweeted that he thought Biden had “had a bad face lift,” a rumor that’s been going around since at least 2008. Heck, maybe it’s true! Either the way, the fact that he might feels a need to do so — and that anyone cares — means we’re truly in a brave new world.