A big part of Sarah Palin's political appeal is her ability to exploit social grievances and cultural symbolism. It was visible during the 2008 campaign when she described parts of the country as "pro-American" and wondered aloud why Barack Obama was "palling around" with domestic terrorists.
In her forthcoming book, "Going Rogue," that capacity is never more evident then when Palin travels to New York for a taping of "Saturday Night Live."
The then-vice presidential candidate writes that she refused to shake Oliver Stone's hand because of the director's leftist political leanings. Stone was in the studio making an SNL appearance of his own.
"During all this, the writers, the producers, and the campaign continued to hammer out the script," Palin writes. "Josh Brolin, Mark Wahlberg, and the singer Adele were also on the show that night, as was director Oliver Stone, who made a cameo appearance. Unbelievably, he is a supporter of Communist dictator Hugo Chavez, who in a 2006 speech to the United Nations referred to the president of the United States as 'the devil himself.' I did not shake Stone's hand."
The anecdote is entirely gratuitous. But it plays right into the conservative psyche. Obama, after all, took stupendous heat for not condemning Chavez after the Venezuelan leader gave him a book.
Palin didn't end with Stone. She also took a swipe at Alec Baldwin -- the "30 Rock" star who is also known for this progressive politics:
Alec Baldwin also guested on the show that evening. The bigwigs haggled back and forth over my appearance with Alec, the writers sending down some lines where Alec was basically supposed to perform a comic dissection on me. Then I was supposed to passively take his arm and stroll offstage.
From a political messaging standpoint, the campaign could see that wasn't going to work. We put our heads together and sent the producers a counteroffer: Alec would still get his barbs in, then I would say, "Hey Baldwin, weren't you supposed to leave the country after the last election?"
Uh... no, producers said.
We tried another idea. It happened that I had recently talked with Alec's brother, Stephen, at a GOP fund-raiser. So we sent back another counteroffer based on my actual conversation with Stephen. "Hey, Alec," the proposed line went, "I saw Stephen at a fund-raiser last week and asked him when he was going to knock some sense into you."
What's that line about being able to dish it out?