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Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin

Posted: October 20, 2008 12:17 PM

Palin on SNL: What Did You Expect?


In 1998, I attended the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington. A friend who is a lobbyist there escorted me to a weekend's worth of events. As we moved around a brunch reception one late morning, I turned and suddenly faced Henry Kissinger. I remember thinking, at that exact moment, that here before me was the man who defined the horrible abuses of American political and military power that have cast such an enormous shadow over America's reputation since the Vietnam war. Not exactly to a Hitchens-esque degree, I was horrified. My political opposite one foot away from me. "Alec, this is Henry Kissinger," my friend said. I paused and said, "I'm sorry to hear about your mother."

Kissinger's mother, Paula, had died the month before, at the age of 97. She had lived in the same formerly German-Jewish community in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan for decades. Kissinger looked me in the eye and, with what I believed was genuine emotion, said, "Thank you for saying that to me." I mention this because I wonder, what did some of you people actually think would happen with Palin on SNL?

Saturday Night Live is a comedy show. It's not Meet the Press. It doesn't "ask the tough questions" or "set the agenda." It attempts, with varying degrees of success, to make people laugh. That's it. Whether they skewer and savage people in order to do so, they don't care. When you come on a show like that, you are prepared in advance to get worked over. Palin knew that. Palin came on to be a good sport. And she was. She was polite, gracious. (More so than some of the famous actors who come through there, believe me.)

However, I assume that, like Meet the Press, SNL feels an obligation to offer their special forum to any and all public figures and officials who are current. Headline making. And in SNL's case, would make for a hit show. Several people decried SNL for giving her a spot on the show. You're kidding, right? The woman is the Vice Presidential nominee of one of the two major parties in this country. Don't put her on SNL? With all of her exposure and the Tina Fey performance? What reality are you in?

If you think an appearance on Saturday Night Live would sway voters and actually affect the outcome of the election, you may have more contempt for the electorate of this country than the Republican National Committee does. And that's a lot of contempt.