September 10, 2008
I'm surprised the campaign is forthrightly using this material, and it's interesting to see how they've chosen to do it. It's a skillful presentation the 2 "lipstick" remarks. Palin's line, beautifully delivered, has a charming self-referential humor. It's a cute, folksy boast that is also self-effacing.
Obama's line is intended to be mean. If it doesn't refer to Palin -- and the intertitle tells us it does -- then it's just an old cliché. His delivery feels off. He stammers before he says "You can put lipstick on a pig," as if he lacks full confidence in what he's about to say. Then he scratches his forehead while he pauses, and the audience laughs. Only then does he go on to say "it's still a pig," after which he puts his hand in his pocket. I can see how that pause cues to the audience that this is where you're supposed to laugh, and they do laugh. The punchline of the old cliché is "it's still a pig," not "you can put lipstick on a pig." So the pause -- as well the forehead scratching -- suggest that Obama wanted people to think about Palin as the pig wearing lipstick.
In any case, Katie Couric pops up in the end to instruct us that sexism has been at play in this election.
The ad is essentially saying: Here's the evidence. Make up your own mind.
UPDATE: Hey, the McCain ad is no longer available, and I can't find it on the McCain YouTube page. Did the campaign take it down? Does someone have a link to it elsewhere? I am seeing this new ad, which, in a more general way, complains about attacks on Palin.
AND: I'm moving the new ad to a new post, since there are already over 200 comments here.
AND: Here's Katie Couric in the original context, which is commenting on the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton.