The Palin Effect

Something felt familiar to me about the roller-coaster of emotions I felt toward Sarah Palin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live [] last night. After hearing her stump speeches during the past few weeks, there was no way she would be able to pull off a guest appearance on the show without making a complete fool of herself, I thought. After all, this was the show that has ridiculed the Alaska governor with Tina Fey’s incredible impressions of Palin. This is the show that satirized Palin’s performance in the Katie Couric interviews. This is the show famous for laughing at politicians, whether the politicians are willing to come along for the ride or not.

The media and people throughout the country were waiting for Palin to crash and burn. I was getting excited.

Then I turned on the television. She had an opening bit with Lorne Michaels and Alec Baldwin. Not bad. Then she was on weekend update and bobbed her head to a rap about herself, performed by Amy Pohler with Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen as Eskimos. At one point Jason Sudeikos comes out as Todd Palin, joining in the rap, then a fake moose appears and Pohler (as Palin) pretends to shoot it. All the while Palin is beaming and joining in the fun.

Granted, expectations for Palin’s performance were low, and her task was relatively simple (sit there and bob her head/read off cue cards), but she hit it out of the park.

And Palin is the only candidate right now who could pull this off. If Obama came on with hula girls and Kenyan drums, I think he would have lost many votes, and much of his credibility.

The thing with Palin is, she doesn’t have much credibility to lose. When she fails (Katie Couric interviews), she is merely meeting the public’s expectations and when she doesn’t fail, she is praised as triumphant (VP debates). This is the Palin Effect. And last night this was in full effect.

If voting for a vice president had nothing to do with deciding who would run the country and make important decisions that impact everyone, but instead was choosing who would be the newest addition to the Saturday Night Live cast, my vote would go for Palin, all the way.

–Jamie Wong