Sarah Palin acquiesced to her own humiliation on Saturday Night Live last night. In two skits, the central trope was her refusal to say anything. She played right along and allowed the show's creators to write all over her. Not only did no one on the show have any substantive verbal interaction with the potential-president-in-purdah. No one really even looked at her.
In the opening skit, Tina Fey conducted a Palin press conference with her signature goofiness. The consistent theme is to mimic (and only slightly exaggerate) the you-can-see-Russia logic characteristic of the McCain campaign's Palin scripts. In this case, the line was, the American people are angry, and in the debate McCain was angry, so McCain won the debate, q.e.d.
Of course, Sarah walked in on Tina. You'd expect that the candidate would highlight the absurdity of the caricature with an ostentatious display of brilliance. You'd think that the McCain people would have insisted on something like that skit in which Hillary Clinton (I think on the Daily Show), walked a technician through a fix of an equipment failure. Instead, she simply chased Fey off the stage and announced that she would take no questions.
In the same skit, the real Palin watched Fey on-screen with Lorne Michaels. Alec Baldwin walked up and, mistaking Palin for Fey, told Michaels, You can't let Tina go out there with that woman. She goes against everything we stand for. I mean, good lord, Lorne. They call her...what's that thing they call her?" Palin responded "Caribou Barbie."Baldwin briefly glancing a Palin and realizing his mistake, said, "Forgive me, but I must say this, you are way hotter in person." He stared straight ahead as he said that. There was no real interaction, no contrition, no "I was wrong" recognition of her humanity. It was a sexual dismissal, a reinforcement rather than repudiation of the Caribou Barbie image.
The second skit was more of the same. Joining the anchors on Weekend Update, Palin announced that she would not do the planned routine because "It might be a bad idea for the campaign." Instead, she sat silently bobbing and gesticulating while Amy Phoeler launched a derisive rap highlighting McCain's creepy smile, Russia porch sightings, Todd's snowmobiling, Palin's Ayers and prospective Wright attacks, and Alaska's otherness generally -- loudly punctuated by repeated rifle fire as (and after) Phoeler felled a moose mascot with a rifle finger. It was harmless enough in itself -- except for the peculiar spectacle of the would-be-veep herself, silent again, letting the lampooners speak for her -- rocking in her seat, waving her arms as the rappers sang, "all the mavericks in the house, raise your hands," and saying nothing. Nothing!-- except a farewell "you betcha" and "good night." How could the McCain camp, which has controlled every venue in which Palin speaks since the Katie Couric disaster, have allowed this appearance without at least partly scripting it?
The SNL crew doubled the decibel level of Palin's silence -- and made moosemeat of the McCain-Palin campaign.
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