Mark Halperin's attempt to "grade" the performances of various Republic 2016 contenders who spoke at CPAC is one of those moments when the veil briefly lifts. He grades each candidate on "substance" and "style," and then presents an "overall" grade that is... not an average of the other two grades. It is clearly completely arbitrary, though his "overall" grades tend to track the "style" grades more than the "substance" grades. In other words, Halperin is outright revealing that, for him, "substance" (whatever he means by that) is simply a quality a politician must perform, not something they must possess, and it is a quality that he deems less important than "style."

In the spirit of fair play, let us grade Mark Halperin:

Mark Halperin does not understand politics. The worst thing about Mark Halperin is not that he's a soulless, cynical hack who portrays Washington as a clash of personalities rather than a clash of interests. It's not that he ignores substance and finds the results or efficacy of policies to be less interesting than determining who's "winning" and who's "losing." The worst thing about Mark Halperin is that he's not even good at doing those things. The most offensive thing about the existence of Mark Halperin is that he's the worst possible version of himself. Overall: F.