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Oct 19, 2008

Palin Misses Her Match


Did Palin and her minders somehow restrict the Governor's role on SNL last night, effectively reducing her to a prop? Did the show merely bring out the fact she's "not ready for prime time?" Or, did the liberal entertainment complex deservedly give it to Palin, just like Letterman gave it to McCain the other night?

Alec Baldwin, who blogs at Huffington Post (and clearly canot stand Palin) not only reduced SP to a sex object, he barely looked at her even when he was supposed to.  And then, Baldwin's line: "Lorne, you can't let Tina go out there with that woman" telegraphed why the show was an unmitigated disaster for Palin.

The reason was, Palin failed to achieve the dramatic justice of confronting Tina Fey's fractured version of herself.

Such an interaction was the only plot option that could have dignified Palin's appearance on the show (in the same way Hillary Clinton's SNL appearance naturally dictated a confrontation with Amy Poehler's version of Hillary).  Far from any such meeting taking place, however, Fey not only parodied Palin again, but did so to Palin's face while the Veep candidate stood there watching her on a monitor before a national television audience.

As such, the sequence of the night (if not as cutting as the Moose rap later on) was this one of Tina Fey, having just finished mocking Palin, actually walking right past Sarah without even giving her a glance.  More biting still, before exiting the stage Fey throws a look back acknowledging that she got off scot-free.

(1:45 pm PST - slightly edited)

Baldwin/Palin clip; Poehler Palin news clip.

(screen grab:


Why should Palin "get it" on SNL when she doesn't "get it" in real life. She makes Dan Quayle look like a brain truster. It's almost an affront to parody to take her on.

I think you misread the lack of eye contact on Baldwin's part. After watching SNL on and off for the last 33 years, I've come to recognize the actors that can't get through a live sketch without reading the queue cards. Baldwin did send a few sideways glances Palin's way, and he did end up touching her, after all, which I don't think I could muster.

I think it was more significant how completely marginalized Palin was in the Update sketch.

It was only a couple of months ago that we were bombarded with ads and breathless media discussions of Senator Obama's standing as the "biggest celebrity in the world". Well, he's not any more.

You can't go on SNL to retaliate and be a stiff. Palin tried to maintain her poise, and she got punked. Poetic justice. Give it to Hillary, she is a player, Palin is a pretender.

Forget the thin intro, go to the Weekend Update and check out Amy Pohler's rap. OMG- it was a horrendous pummeling however you can't say undeserved. How about the shot moose, Todd and the dancing eskimo's!???, what is not pathetic about McCain Palin anymore.

I saw it differently. She finally showed some humanity. SNL showed respect and Baldwin showed some class. Probably the handlers put the kibosh on a Fey meet up and I'm disappointed Sarah didn't follow her instinct and over rule them. I rarely watch SNL because I don't find it funny, just You tube some clips, but the Amy Pohler rap was was the funniest thing I've seen there since Eddie Murphy left. I'm really looking forward to the Palin book tour. Palin while "not ready for prime time" as a politician has a lot of charisma and will remain on the national scene. Look for a senate run.

Hey, a Michele Bachmann type in the senate could be fun.

One observation - Palin sure does weird things with her mouth when she's not talking. Smirks, grimaces, scrunches....

Overall It was anticlimactic. The stuff she's supposed to be good at - which is connecting with viewers through the camera - she either didn't have the opportunity to do, or couldn't do it in the context of a "backstage" scene. She didn't have very many lines, so it was not surprising she didn't screw them up.

When she went on at the podium, she had nothing left to do but the canned line "Live From NY It's SN!"

She might as well have been another Palin impersonator, for all the impression she made.

If Sarah Pallin had had her s-together, she would have done an impression of Tina Fey!

Why do we have to over-analyze everything? It was funny she did fine.

I really don't see what Palin gained from her appearance. She was mocked and ridiculed, looked uncomfortable, didn't seem in on the joke and refused to get involved or poke fun at herself. Just like her campaign.

Palin went on SNL for the same reason the other candidates go on - to neutralize the humor being taken against them, by contextualizing the mockery. Usually this works to their advantage, as it did when Hillary went on, or when McCain did the same thing. For Palin however, it went doubly wrong because she never got the opportunity to either identify (and thus neutralize their attacks) with her hosts - but she was actually snubbed by her hosts. And because most of the mockery of Palin (especially by Tina Fey) has been so literal as to require no hyperbole, the snubbing also took on an especially devastating matter of fact literalness. Its almost like Sarah Palin took part in her own mock hanging and kicked out the chair supporting her all by herself. You've got to wonder who put her up to this, who arranged the details of her appearance, and who gave the go-ahead to the script. Could the McCain campaign really have been so stupid?

I agree that Palin was basically made to play the fool. They've been mocking her relentlessly and now they just did it to her face while she stands there taking it. It would have been highly more effective for Palin if she was allowed to mock the caricature they've made of her. She should have gone on there and really gone over the top in parodying Fey-as-Palin. For example, they could have had a sketch of her giving pointers on how to properly shoot moose or something. That would have actually been kind of funny, unlike the Baldwin bit where the joke was in the whole "oops, the person I'm being mean to can actually hear what I'm saying" set-up -- the sort of thing that invokes discomfort more than anything else.

Palin got played. I'm not even sure she was in on the joke. If she was, that only indicates to me that she is so delusional and lacking in self-awareness in thinking that this appearance would make her look good.

Your and your readers' comments are why I love this site so much.

Right here on this page are some of the juiciest and most succinct comments on the whole internet about that set-up, and the frame you cut from the clip represents the reality that went on. Palin was a by-stander on the program, she didn't get it, she IS "that horrible woman" as Baldwin told her to her face, she probably IS hotter in person than on TV (Baldwin's only "apology"), she apparently was not offered and didn't insist on the chance to stand next to the fake Sarah Palin so she could show people the difference (as you point out). She's a celebrity. In the Update she was literally at the margin of the screen, even off-screen, so irrelevant that the skit ABOUT her did not even need to SHOW her. She even smiled and danced to the music while everyone laughed at her endless rants about Bill Ayers (talk about not getting it!). When she says in the Update that she decided not to read the Hip-Hop Alaska song, that probably IS the sober truth. To which SNL responds by going ahead with it anyway and making her a bystander again. She can't win. She might as well have been another Palin impersonator.

Reading all this I went back and saw the clips. She was so pathetic I almost felt sorry for her. Not a parody of herself, which would be funny, but the reverse, a sober, real-life embodiment of the parody. Unconscious of this, or willing to be led, she was present on the show like a museum specimen, another artifact of the reality that was being ridiculed.

You really picked the right images that are the visual metaphors for the Palin SNL segments. Perhaps she failed so badly to represent herself because she lacks dignity and/or a sense of humor which would have led her to self parody which would out Fey Fey as Palin.

I realized something: Palin, despite all the "zingers" and jokes she can adeptly deliver, is never self-deprecating. Ever. She never pokes fun at herself. McCain, for all his faults as a candidate, often does. So does Obama and Biden.

So, I'm not surprised she would go on SNL and essentially play herself. She takes herself really seriously.

"The difference between you and me is, I make this look GOOD..."

Alec Baldwin is attempting to rehabilitate himself by going into a moral hissy fit over the presence of Palin. I'm not buying it, and I'm not forgetting his hateful phone message to his daughter. He no longer has the standing to huff and puff about anything.

There's another visual worth emphasizing in this sketch, and that's the inclusion of seemingly meaningless props in the background. When the shot cuts away from Fey-as-Palin to Michaels and Palin, you can see an Abraham Lincoln impersonator and a llama. One assumption is that these "characters" are milling about a staging area awaiting a later sketch, but I don't recall seeing either Lincoln or the llama in any other sketch. Backgrounding Palin, perhaps they serve as a visual indication of the way that she has made the Presidential Election into a circus.

Palin was punk. They laugh at her, not with her, right on the set. If she cannot perform any self-deprecating humor, then she will never be part of SNL.

Great photos. Palin looks so uncomfortable. Tina looks more real!

Great photos. Palin looks so uncomfortable. Tina looks more real!

I am so glad someone has critiqued this episode. I thought that Palin was completely "played" by the SNL crew. She came off as a stiff who just had to suck up the truly biting satire aimed at "That Horrible Woman." In this case showing up was not 90% of it. It just proves again that Republicans do not have a sense of humor. I'm sure in a similar situation on an alternate "bizzaro" universe the Obama team would have worked up a fairly funny script. We saw at last week's Al Smith Dinner in NYC that McCain and Obama can both be funny, because they're self aware. Palin is an empty suit which I hope we never have to see again after November 4th. People who say she's the future of the Republican Party are either kidding themselves or are hoping that the Republicans disintegrate into a civil war for the next four years and the nuts win and nominate Palin. That's assuming that she hasn't been impeached in Alaska for ethics crimes.

I thought it was a drag that SNL had her on at all. Ok, she's not Hitler, but as far as political satire goes, Charlie Chaplin would never have had Hitler make a winking cameo in the Great Dictator. Michael Moore doesn't show up at the end of that right-wing satire movie out now that parodies him. SNL made a joke of their own joke, as if it's ALL in good, meaningless fun. So I guess it is, and the ratings show it, they're raking it in as we all rubberneck this political tragedy. What I thought was clever biting satire turned out to be absurdity. The Weekend Update bit was terrible, under-rehearsed, slapdash. Yes, Palin looked like an idiot bouncing along with it, but when doesn't she?

The only time I saw this sort of SNL skit done well, was Janet Reno's Dance Party. Will Ferrell was hilarious as Janet Reno (stiff moves, deep voice, blue dress). This skit worked because the audience (TV anyway) had no idea the REAL Janet was going to appear. And I think the real Janet danced!

Palin in contrast just stood there (moose in headlights?), the audience knew WAY ahead that she was going to appear, and she let SNL control the scene. Very weak performance. If a candidate is going to put themselves in this sort of position, it makes sense to exploit the opportunity.

McCain also was controlled on Letterman. McCain was completely apologetic and submissive, and allowed Letterman to take and keep control of the situation. This was just another insight into McCain's troubled psyche. McCain is damaged goods (since POW?). You never really know which John McCain will show up at any given moment, and its always possible he will fold under pressure. How can this be considered qualities of presidential leadership?

Palin/Huckabee for 2012 !

The Weekend Update bit was terrible, under-rehearsed, slapdash.

Really? Because I didn't see what was so biting about it, as some have claimed, but I thought Amy Poehler's performance was fantastic.

Notice the look on Palin's face as she passes Fey in the first picture? It looks very judgemental to me, but I can't tell what she is looking at.

I think that Palin may have a good chance at making a career as a right-wing radio talker -- or for those Rs who can't read -- a Faux News pundit.

Best part of all of this? Palin is upstaging Powell's staged "endorsement" of Obama. *lmao*

Second best part is listening to the hatred of the liberals who are pissing backwards over this. 'Talk about desparate'.

Can't wait to hear the cries of "racism" or "voter fruad" when the annointed one loses.

I followed a link to this site from TWoP and I'll note the same thing here that I did there: You have selected a couple of frames from a video that do not do justice to the actual exchange between Palin and Fey. If you watch the video over at, it is quite obvious that Fey starts looking at Palin almost immediately after she leaves the podium. Both Fey and Palin nod at each other at the 4:52 mark (and Fey appears to say something to Palin).

I am absolutely enamored of Fey's cool, uber-composed, control in these two screen grabs. Visually, she delivers the sharp bitch-slap every high school girl dreams of being able to pull on a rival. It doesn't get more polished than this.

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