Sarah Palin joined SNL tonight and proved, once again, that John McCain lacked judgment in having her on his ticket, while also unwise not to veto her SNL appearance. In isolation, Palin's very brief moments were not, in themselves, the problem. The problem was largely contextual.
Consider, for example, the respective experiences of two groups watching SNL tonight: conservative members of the GOP, on the one hand, and young voters who McCain might have hoped to attract to his failed campaign on the other.
Without Tina Fey, this was Saturday Night Dead and there was nothing worth seeing but more nails being indirectly pounded into the GOP coffin.
Josh Brolin hosted, reporting that in learning to play W, he concluded that neither W, nor he, should ever be, or have been, president.
Then in sketches and in "Weekend Update," viewers were reminded of the deep economic difficulty the country finds itself in, and we all know what good the economy has done for John McCain's candidacy. Thus, over and over, viewers were reminded of McCain's biggest problem, besides Sarah Palin.
Then, no viewer could be sure when Gov. Palin would appear after the traditional SNL welcome. One could think she *might* appear on "Weekend Update," but one watched with heightened attention early on wondering if she might appear in one of the ever more artless sketches.
She didn't, and showed appropriate restraint, I suppose, in letting just her arms dance about while remaining seated in her chair during someone else's inane rap. But prior to this, millions of viewers were exposed to one sophomoric (naw, make that 5th grade) sketch where the word "fartface" was repeated perhaps 100 or more times, and another about a guy who would shoot a ping pong ball from his rear end.
I just can't imagine very many members of the Christian Right, to whom Palin appeals and who might have been checking in to see how their darling was doing, enjoying these words filling their living rooms tonight. Then Palin was compared to Dan Quayle in one otherwise forgettable moment, and for those of us old enough to remember, we were reminded of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas' alleged one-time interest in pornography. Trust me, no helping hand of any kind was extended to Palin or McCain.
After all, this is Saturday Night Live who've skewered her week after week. Were they going to be nice? And now, by appearing on the program, it certainly drew its biggest audience of the season. Maybe the biggest audience in years, but I fail to see how the GOP was helped.
Often these cameos on SNL humanize a candidate in some helpful way. A candidate will often seem like a good sport by going on. Al Gore was wonderful after the debacle of 2000, but he appeared after finally conceding and when it was all too late. He was funny and very human. But we already know Sarah Palin can sometimes display humor and be human. But tonight, SNL gave us another piece of evidence that Gov. Palin's judgment, and that of her running mate, may not be what we want guiding the nation and the world for the next four years.
Cap all this off with the toughest, and most incisive Obama ad I've yet seen, with McCain helping to bury himself with the perfect soundbite linking him ever more closely to Bush ("I voted with him over 90% of the time, more than some other members of our party" or words to that effect) and you've got another bad day or two for the GOP, and maybe more depending on how long people talk about tonight's debacle. He just doesn't have the time to keep making mistakes like this and get off message. The clock is ticking with just 16 days left before the election, and more and more voters this year are casting their ballots early.
I just shook my head in amazement tonight as the Obama ad ran and thought, man, the Obama campaign doesn't miss a trick placing that particular ad where they did, while the McCain campaign misses nearly every one, and does sometimes seem to be run by those who would wish him to lose in November.
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