If John McCain is photographed holding up a “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline on Election Night in two weeks, pundits and media talking heads across the country will no doubt point to the invisible “Obama Factor” as the reason for why this a priori nominee didn’t win. What they may be missing, though, will be the “Palin Effect,” at least if last week’s “Saturday Night Live” is any indication.
The ratings for last Saturday night’s show–headlined by Palin–were the highest in the last 14 years. That’s fourteen years! Those were the days of Chris Farley. Of Adam Sandler. Al Franken was still writing for the show. That’s how long ago that was!
More important than ratings, though, “SNL” has become relevant in this campaign, and never more so than with the addition of Palin to the national stage and Tina Fey playing her on the “SNL” stage.
A show doesn’t get ratings because it puts on a great episode–it gets ratings based on the anticipation of a great episode, and such was the anticipation when Palin’s appearance was announced. America tuned in. What does tell us about our upcoming election?
Well, it could mean that even though a majority of Americans won’t vote for her, they wanted to see her. Or, it could be that they wanted to see Fey and Palin on the same stage (the resemblance is amazing!) Or, it could be that there are countless Americans who won’t tell a pollster they’re voting for her, but deep down they would love to know that a working mom who stands up to government corruption and big business can really go play with the big boys in D.C. and remind us all that leadership is really not about how you do in the media but how you do at decision-making. And there are many working moms–and working men–who respect the chutzpah of a good decision-maker of strong character. Perhaps–when behind the voting curtain–there may be a boatload of Americans who wish they could be what our founders imagined–a citizen Congressman–and in lieu of such will vote for an everywoman who has a chance.
I hope the election is closer than any of us think it will be. I hope that the McCain-Palin team pulls off the upset. I’m rooting for this not because they ran a better campaign–they didn’t–but because we’re not electing a speech-giver or a teleprompter-reader-in-Chief but rather a leader. And it’s possible that when voters get behind closed doors, the feared secret of anti-Obama racism is far, far outweighed by a nation of secret Palin fans who–if you believe the Nielson Rating Company–were outed last weekend.