A New Wrinkle (or Unwrinkle) in the Campaign: The Biden Brow

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Monday, October 13, 2008

Joe Biden looks . . . different.

Something about his eyes, which seem smaller, and his forehead, which seems smoother. Compared with images from last year, he seems better rested -- yet also, strangely, a little sleepier.

Or go to YouTube: In the July 2007 CNN debate, his face turned sharp and keen with his impassioned call to send troops to Darfur, a frustrated pair of vertical lines in his brow as he described the suffering of refugees. This month, debating Sarah Palin, we heard similar anger in his voice about a lack of funding in Afghanistan -- but saw a tranquil brow.

Karen Bradley, a University of Maryland professor who studies politicians' body movement and what it conveys to voters, says it's "a little strange that nothing moves from his eyes on up" -- since she otherwise finds Biden a compelling communicator who powerfully telegraphs his conviction on a topic via other body language.

Barry Cohen, a Rockville plastic surgeon, is more blunt. "He clearly has had Botox," the doctor, a Republican, told us. "The lines are gone on his forehead. There is no way makeup or surgery could do that." Georgetown spa owner Erwin Gomez, who knows his way around some of D.C.'s most scrupulously groomed faces, agrees: "On the right and the left temple, you can see the lines, but he has no wrinkles in the forehead." He suspects the senator had a shot of Botox in his brow to disable his scowl muscle -- which can also bring an unwanted heaviness to the eyelids.

Well? "Completely untrue, completely unsubstantiated," said Biden spokesman David Wade. "A lot of Americans will have fewer worry lines on their faces" when George Bush is out office, he added. "But my goodness, until then can't we actually talk about the economy, the millions of foreclosures and the fact that Americans lost 2 trillion bucks in their 401(k)s this month? Seriously."

And if he did choose to try the 'tox -- hey, so what, because, supposedly, everyone is doing it these days! D.C. dermatologist Tina Alster declined to assess any one VIP face ("I know too many of them"), but among her political clientele, as many men as women are getting Botox -- Republicans and Democrats alike. She had to cut her summer vacation short to meet the surge in demand before the conventions. "People who knew they were going to be on TV," she explained. Oh, and not just politicians: journalists, too. Even grubby print journalists, who increasingly fill the ranks of the 24-7 cable punditocracy.

The stuff wears off in about six months, so she expects another rush before the inauguration, "at least among one party or another."

Hey, Isn't That...?

* Jon Bon Jovi dining at I Ricci near Dupont Circle on Saturday night with wife Dorothea plus a tall, regal-looking guy and another well-dressed woman. Fine wines, caprese, a pasta course, sea bass, a cheese course -- the whole nine yards. The rocker was in business-rocker garb -- black pants, black blazer, black tee. Turned out he flew in for the 40th-birthday party later that night of former Gore adviser Mike Feldman, a pal from the 2000 campaign. (At the Kalorama party filled with ex-Clintonites, host Joe Lockhart introduced himself as "someone who used to be someone famous.")

Love, Etc.

* Born: A new set of heirs to the King: Twin daughters were welcomed last week by Lisa Marie Presley, 40, and her musician husband Michael Lockwood, 47, her rep told reporters Saturday. No names announced yet. Elvis's daughter also has two teenage kids from a previous marriage.

Quote

"Whatever endorsement I have, I get a bunch of product and let the guys have what they want. . . clothes an shoes and all kinds of stuff. . . . . I just take it out to the middle of the locker room and open the boxes up. . . . We have guys taking shoes that are 14s and they wear a 12, talking about how they'll just wear extra socks."

-- Jason Taylor in the new Capitol File, describing his charity-begins-at-home-policy of sharing his superstar swag with his fellow Redskins.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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