Slate culture editor Meghan O’Rourke nails it, in as apt an analogy as I’ve seen: Sarah Palin is a character from a George Saunders short story. If you’ve read Saunders’ fiction, you know exactly what O’Rourke’s talking about; if you haven’t, Saunders writes a world shaped by the brand-name overconsumption, with its inhabitants tragicomically resigned and adapted to the dictatorial regime of consumerism. In O’Rourke’s words, Palin “buys into a whole vocabulary of signifiers that often don’t signify very much, and she scaffolds that lexicon with winks, smiles, and carefully mimed gestural reinforcement.”
It’s an attractive, pleasant, carefully calibrated empty clockwork face. That’s what I’d say I saw last night.