Sarah Palin, as you've heard and no doubt seen, went on Saturday Night Live this weekend, but despite reports from HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion that it improved her favorability ratings, Alec Baldwin says Democrats shouldn't worry or bash SNL over her appearance because "If you think an appearance on Saturday Night Live would sway voters and actually effect the outcome of the election, you may have more contempt for the electorate of this country than the Republican National Committee does." Reviews from the punditocracy might be mixed, but Americans apparently feel that she did pretty well!For one, as the New York Times noted, this was SNL's top rated show in 14 years, so tons of Americans tuned in and most probably didn't even do so to watch her fall flat. My question was, and it was echoed by the Times: what was the point? It's not like her liability is not being likeable enough.
Ms. Palin has already shown her lighter side to the public. The one thing nobody has accused her of is being too stiff and sober-minded. And yet on the very weekend that former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell endorsed Mr. Obama on NBC’s Meet the Press and cited Ms. Palin’s selection as a reason, and Senator McCain told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that she was a “direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda for America,” Ms. Palin joked about her nickname, “Caribou Barbie.” As Republicans argue over whether Ms. Palin is a drag on the ticket or the life of the party, Ms. Palin on Saturday presented herself as a palate cleanser, or halftime show, for Democrats and Republicans alike.
But Troy Patterson at Slate hits the nail on the head in terms of what I thought when I saw it, hungover on Sunday morning like a Real American(TM). How could an entire team of writers not manage to come up with (or coax her into saying) something funny?
The whole point of Sarah Palin's going on Saturday Night Live was the going itself. All she was supposed to do was to play along. When Poehler made her out as a gangsta rousing a crowd — "All the mavericks in the house put your hands up" - Palin needed only to dull whatever the edge the assault might have had by putting her arms in the air and waving them very carefully.
When I watched it, I was disappointed that not only did Sarah Palin not even to manage to pull off a laugh line about the most laughable Baldwin brother — Stephen — but neither side made much of an effort to make it worth having her on at all. Like in the campaign itself, she was basically just a prop for other people's ideas and conceptions — or, as Salon's Vincent Rossmeier put it "Palin performed the same role she does on the campaign: Nod, pose and stay silent when asked." I think that's probably a little unfair, given that she is the designated attack-lipsticked-pitbull these days, but I think her role on SNL was arguably similar in that she is and was asked to play a role, and to stand in for other things. The only glowing review came, of course, from the conservative, Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, who thought her opening sketch bitching about how her press conference lacked verisimilitude was hi-lar-i-ous. I thought, really? This old cliché? Ooh, and let's get some "mistaken identity" going on in there, that's totally realistic — though, I thought Alec Baldwin gave such a shitty performance that he had to be trying to stall the sketch, protestations of how the American people weren't going to vote for her because of it aside. Did she really prove anything? I mean, great, she can take a gentle ribbing (and use it to raise a little money, according to The New Republic), but she definitely didn't have to smile and laugh along when actually watching some serious satire of herself. The women with the sense of humor (and the ability to smile while getting dicked over by their boss) were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The most I could say for Sarah Palin is: at least she had rhythm. And she got to hug Josh Brolin. Of course, I don't vote for people based on how adequately they can read mildly amusing quips off a teleprompter — but if Alec Baldwin thinks people don't, then he really ought to pay a little more attention to politics. Oh, and to answer my own question: if they answer is, it seems, yes, can she please do a fucking press conference already? The Rap On Palin [Salon] Sarah Palin's Favorability Ratings Increase Among All Parties After Appearance on Saturday Night Live [PR Newswire] Palin on SNL: What Did You Expect? [Huffington Post] On ‘SNL’ It’s the Real Sarah Palin, Looking Like a Real Entertainer [New York Times] Live From Wasilla... [Slate] Palin Proves She's E-Quipped For 'SNL' [New York Post] Palin Raising Cash From SNL Gig [The New Republic]