Those of you who did not like my referring to Sarah Palin as a "babe" yesterday probably won’t enjoy this post, either. But I am honor-bound to be honest with you, my readers. Also, I have a journalistic duty to tell y’all as much as possible about a candidate about whom so little is known, even if it’s based on nothing but my overactive imagination.
I had never before seen a picture of Sarah Palin, and yet from the first moment I saw her, she looked familiar. Did she to you? If so, you’re dating myself. It’s not so much that Gov. Palin looks like a particular individual. But she’s a dead-ringer for a stock character that frequently appeared in sit-coms back in the ’50s and ’60s. If you’re my age, you’ve seen that character dozens of times.
Here’s a summary of a "Beverly Hillbillies" episode which featured that character (I’ve bold-faced the relevant part):
It’s Spring Tonic time, and Granny hands it around to the family, giving Jed a double dose because he made a mean comment on it. Meanwhile, at the bank, the secretary Gloria Buckles, who has worked on the Clampett account, has said she can take the paper work to Jed. When she gets up there, she transforms herself from a plain secretary to a gorgeous one, with her sights set on Jed’s money. She flirts with Jed, telling him that she needs a mountain man to make her happy. The family is worried about this young gold digger, and the fact that Jed has had a double dose of tonic. They call Drysdale and he rushes over, not recognizing Gloria. She reveals that her and Jed have discussed marriage, and when questioned, Jed says it is true. Gloria asks when they should set the date, and Jed says a few years, because that is when Jethro will be of marrying age. Jethro runs off with Gloria, and Jane runs after them to get her man back. Elly asks her father why he doesn’t want to marry her, and he says you have to start worrying when the bait starts chasing you.
Do you recognize her now? Yes, she’s the frumpy secretary who first appears in a conservative business outfit, wearing glasses, with her hair tied up on top of her head, who, at a critical moment in the plot, suddenly removes her jacket, whips off the glasses and lets her hair come tumbling down, and immediately looks like Miss America.
Of course — and this was the really cheesy thing about this plot device — she looked like Miss America when you first saw her, just Miss America with glasses and her hair done up. I never could decide whether the sitcom writers really thought America was stupid enough to be surprised by this plot device, or whether we were supposed to see through it, and see the transformation-to-glamour coming — you know, so that the folks at home would say, "I know what’s going to happen — watch this!"
That’s what made me realize that’s who Gov. Palin reminded me of. She IS beautiful, obviously so, and the specs and the tied-up hair are simply devices meant to say to us, "I’m serious; I’m not just a babe; you can vote for me."
The bad thing about this is that on some level, deep down, some of us who grew up on 50s and 60s TV are thinking, "This is gonna be good — watch this!" (And subconsciously, we’re expecting a scene in which she suddenly lets her hair down and removes the glasses, and of course, Cindy McCain walks in at that moment and says, "John! Who is THIS?" and a befuddled McCain goes "Hominahominahomina," and the laugh track plays.) Or maybe that’s the GOOD thing, in terms of keeping voters interested in the ticket. I don’t know.
By the way, I couldn’t find a picture to illustrate what I was talking about, but here’s video of the relevant part of the Beverly Hillbillies episode. The transformation of Gloria Buckles occurs toward the end of the first part: