Sarah Palin on NBC’s ‘Today’: It definitely happened

You guys it’s here it’s finally here! Sarah Palin is back doing what she does best, which is being on television for some reason. This morning has been hyped as a rematch between Palin and Katie Couric (who is co-hosting “Good Morning America”), because apparently asking a Vice Presidential candidate to name one newspaper counts as a match.

Before this thing gets under way, let me say a couple of things: 1) That CBS interview has not, in the intervening four years, revealed itself to be as hostile as the Breitbartosphere keeps trying to convince us it was. It was a series of puffball questions designed to allow her to demonstrate some entry-level awareness of the way the world works, and if Palin failed—which she did—she has only herself to blame. CBS even cut out the 11-minute segment where she tried to tell a knock-knock joke and then threw up. That Palin’s supporters are trying to sell her as both tough yet also no match for the terrifying potency of Katie Couric is ludicrous.

2) I would actually like nothing more than for Sarah Palin to suddenly become articulate. This world needs some intelligent, independent conservatives, if only so we can start having a less-embarrassing class of arguments, and nothing would be more anarchically entertaining than for that person to be Sarah Palin all of a sudden. I’m not holding my breath, obviously.

So let’s get into it.

7:02 From the news desk, Matt Lauer and a clearly-seething (though isn’t she always?) Ann Curry introduce Ms. Palin, who is on the studio couch reading a stack of newspapers! Do you get it? Because 4 years ago, she was unable to name a single one? This is like when Jessica Simpson did all kinds of photo-ops with cans of Chicken Of The Sea, but somehow sadder. Can one descend into self-parody if one begins there?

7:08 Sarah sits down for a 7-minute interview that you can already hear in your head, even though this is maybe the fourth such interview she’s given in 4 years. It’s immediately full of hilarious contradictions: Mitt Romney is getting the nomination, except anything could happen. Anyone is better than Obama and his “failed socialist policies,” except they are working, except “not fast enough.” Also, “whomever” is the GOP Vice Presidential nominee can expect “double-standards from the lamestream media,” which she, as co-host in the 8am hour, will become a part of. Lots of nice, easy opportunities for follow-up questioning, but Lauer busts through the thing like he’ll explode if he doesn’t.

7:30 The 8am hour is nearly upon us! Sarah has taken over Lauer’s dressing room for some furious mugging. She’s taking notes off her Blackberry and writing them on her hand! Sarah Palin is straight Carrot Topping herself, and it’s hard to watch.

7:42 Sarah’s lead-in is a long interview with Carnie Wilson about her second gastric bypass surgery. You know, Carnie is kind of the Sarah Palin of song: famous for her looks, desperate to live down a success that came too quickly too early, constantly frantically playing to the cameras. I honestly don’t know who to apologize to for that comparison.

7:52 The big news is that Sarah Palin will be joining Today’s Professional Panel, with Star Jones, Donny Deutsch and some doctor lady. This is exactly where she belongs. Buckle her in.

8:00 Sarah is out on the plaza, greeting her public! It is revealed that they will soon discuss Oprah, about whom Palin says: “More power to her for that grit and the guts!” But what about local school boards cracking down on revealing prom dresses? “Oh, it’s about whether schools and the government should be able to tell girls what to wear, we’ll talk about some of those struggles.”

8:10 The Professional Panel begins. Sarah once again congratulates Oprah for “showing that grit and those guts,” proving she not only memorizes talking points but also lazy folksy syntax. As to whether OWN will be around in a year, Palin says “It will be if they get some conservatives on there, some patriots!” Why are we letting conservatives own the word patriot? Even on Sirius, the right wing talk channel is called “Patriot,” while the left-wing is called simply “Left.” This is neither here nor there at the moment, but liberals and moderates are capable of loving this country too; we prove it by not allowing a Rick Santorum to get as far in our Presidential nominating process. ANYWAY. Regarding Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy weight gain: “That Hollywood image is full of itty-bitty people! People unrealistically tiny!” On Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs: “I didn’t see ‘Game Change!’ I don’t waste my time on those lies!” This last comment would seem to be an excellent moment for someone to ask a follow-up question, but that would require Star Jones to stop talking about herself. No dice.

8:21 At last Sarah Palin is where she belongs, right next to Tori Spelling and some theme snacks. Tori is shilling her new book “CelebraTORI: Unleash Your Inner Party Planner,” and telling the home audience how to throw the perfect party. (Pro Tori tip: make food and drinks available to your guests. Noted!) Sarah gestures to a platter of pigs in blankets and asks: “Is that caribou? Is that moose?” Somebody knows how to work a brand.

8:24 Ann Curry basically snaps in Palin’s face to get her attention, and asks: “What do you think of all this?” Palin replies that at her house, “when we entertain, it’s mostly potluck.” I thought she didn’t care for handouts.

8:26 Through this whole thing, Ann keeps trying to take Sarah’s hand. Not as a friendly gesture, more in a crossing-guard type of way. Sarah recoils.

8:41 Palin is participating in an interview with the authors of a book on raising healthy teenage daughters. The authors begin by bemoaning our reality-television culture and the pressure it puts on young women to be thin and vacant. Palin: “What would be nice though is if the marketplace would demand though that maybe some reality shows would start portraying some very healthy independent young women who are striving for  strong work ethic examples and doing those things that are kind of the antithesis of so many of the things we are seeing portrayed in reality shows today.”  I tried to diagram that sentence, and my head fell off. Also, we’re out of time about 4 seconds after she manages to spit it out.

8:56 Wilson Phillips perform “California Dreamin’,” after which Matt Lauer confesses: “I always thought the line went ‘I got down on my knees and I began to pray,’ but it’s really ‘I pretend to pray’?” I have always shared that misconception, but Carnie confirms the correct word is “pretend,” grammar be damned. Palin: “Well, either way, we’re prayin’, so that’s good.” Okay, not really, but sure.

9:01 And so we say goodbye to Sarah Palin. The gang congratulates her on a job well done, she says it was chaotic but enjoyable: “I always say ‘If things are in control, you’re going too slow,’ and Mario Andretti says that too.” Probably he said that first, right? Anyway, Al Roker invites her to stay with them, as they’re cooking hamachi in the next hour. “Oh, okay, hamachi,” she says, with the skepticism of your grandmother at a Thai restaurant. “Do ya got any caribou?” Yes, yes, Sarah. We get it. Animals for cooking.

And that’s it! No accidental studio fires, no slapfights. But also no secretly-savvy Sarah Palin. My “Flowers For Algernon” fantasy is at least temporarily thwarted. This was basically Charlie Sheen saying “Winning” for 2 hours; Sarah Palin vilified and benefitted from the attention of the mainstream media without offering any substance, as has always been the case.

There is no such thing as saying this too many times: great job, Senator McCain.