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Palintology

By Aaron Kinney
Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 5:11 pm in 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Barack Obama, Burlingame, Joe Biden, John McCain, Political Campaigns, Sarah Palin.

Didn’t have time to post this Insider item here on Friday. Since it previewed Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s appearance Sunday at a GOP fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency SFO in Burlingame, we’ll run it in a shorter, modified form with some additional comments thrown in.

First, a couple things we noticed from MediaNews (and San Jose Mercury News) reporter Mary Ann Ostrom’s account of the event.

According to Ostrom, Siebel Systems founder Tom Siebel introduced Palin to the crowd by saying, in part, “Sarah Palin carries the flag of outrage … for each of us who cries out, ‘We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.’”

Whuh? What are Tom and these people he’s referring to mad about? The last eight years of leadership under President George W. Bush? The Congress that’s been led by a Republican majority for six out of the past eight years? (And effectively filibustered by a Republican minority the past two years, on those occasions when Congressional Democrats weren’t kowtowing to the president’s demands.)

Tom and Sarah’s being mad about the status quo in Washington makes about as much sense as John McCain’s declaring that Obama is “angry,” when McCain lately has looked like he’s about to pop at the seams.

Palin reportedly got a good laugh during the fundraiser with a line about Tina Fey, who’s been parodying her recently on “Saturday Night Live,” saying she’s giving Tina Fey good “job security.”

Except not really, because Tina Fey has been playing her on “SNL,” a show for which she no longer works. In a broad sense, you could argue that Fey’s crushing portrayals of Palin have elevated her already brilliant career to new heights. But it’s not like she was scuffling. She’s won a slew of Emmys and Golden Globes for her new show, “30 Rock,” though TV ratings remain low. It’s a minor point, but we can’t resist the urge not to give Palin credit for anything.

Before the event, we offered some suggestions for Palin supporters who wanted to bring signs: “Moose. It’s what’s for dinner.” “Hockey moms do it without protection.” “Peninsulans 4 empty catchphrases.” “Seriously, we’re having moose. Dig in.”

Below are a few examples of what people, pro- and anti-Palin alike, actually came up with.

On a separate note, we pointed out following Thursday’s vice presidential debate between Palin and Sen. Joe Biden that you could tell the McCain camp tried hard to come up with a zinger for Palin that would resonate with viewers of Thursday’s debate and dominate the postdebate spin sessions.

Their best shot appeared to be “Say it ain’t so, Joe.” (Palin seemed to telegraph her team’s intentions when she immediately went on to quote Ronald Reagan’s famous quip to Jimmy Carter, “There you go again.”)

But Palin’s attempt at lighthearted chops-busting fell with a bit of thud, partly because of her hurried delivery and partly due to the fact that it was followed, in a way that seemed overdone, by the Reagan line and “doggone it.” It felt shoehorned into the discussion.

The Insider got the impression of someone who’s got a really good card but, fearing she won’t get another good chance to play it, plays it too early, in a situation that doesn’t quite call for it.

The problem with trying to rehearse lines like that is they are, at their best, unrehearsed. In a 1989 interview with Jim Lehrer, Reagan claimed he came up with his iconic takedown of Carter on the spot.

“Saturday Night Live” took note of her scriptoquips as well. When Fey, as Palin, walks out and shakes Joe Biden’s hand, she says, “Hey, can I call you Joe? Okay, ’cause I’ve practiced a couple zingers where i call you Joe.”

(That was probably the best skit of the night, but “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals” gave it some good competition.)

In fairness to Palin, she held up pretty well against Biden, though her winking, aw-shucks delivery — as a substitute for actual information — wore thin by the end. Some (Republicans) would even say she won the debate, while others (everybody else) would disagree. But most people would at least agree that it was closely contested.

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