The Sarah Palin Show Bob Moser The Nation As the much-anticipated debut of The Sarah Palin Show crept closer in the Xcel Center last night, the overwhelmingly white and well-heeled Republicans rose to their feet, cheering, to dance and sing along to the infectious strains of Sly Stone's Everyday People--demonstrating not only a giddy lack of self-awareness (or irony), but also showing that the folks in the hall had gotten the alerts from GOP Message Central: Palin, the woman they'd come tonight to celebrate and cheer, is above all else Everyday People. I'd been hearing it all week from the delegates. "She's relatable," a Florida fellow said. "I think what Gov. Palin's able to offer is the perspective of any everyday American," a Mississippi delegate told me. "She's real--real people. Wow!" a Texas delegate chimed in. Her family troubles, which have fueled a feeding frenzy among the dimwits who blog on the Huffington Post, only testified all the more powerfully to her everydayness. "If anything, it just kind of shows what a normal American she is. Family crises and situations like this arise in families all across the country, and I think she's doing the best with the situation. I think it will make Gov. Palin all the more strong," said another Texan. You might not think that averageness would qualify a person for the second-highest office in the land. But if you might not think that, you haven't been paying attention to the way Republicans have won presidential elections for the last forty years. Palin is the logical extension of the cultural populism that has warped our politics--and for which the Democrats have, as yet, found no good answer. The "one of us" quality--and her talent at projecting it--is clearly what got Palin on the ticket (silly chatter about Hillary voters aside). With his underrated grasp of the kind of substance-free emotional symbolism that wins national elections, John McCain sniffed out in Palin a kind of Hollywood fairy tale: homegirl from small town, reluctant beauty queen, plucky point guard, deadly shot and mother of five, suddenly--magically--plucked from obscurity and thrust into the national spotlight. Come to think of it, even Julia Roberts might have turned down this half-baked script (though the chance to sport a beehive and have a movie hubby as hunky as Todd would surely have been a temptation). But Palin--who replied to her first shouted reporter's question about her readiness for the job with a crisp, Alaskan "Sure, yup, yup"--showed no such scruples. She'd made it refreshingly clear, early in the "vetting" process, that she had no notion of what a vice president does--another big plus, no doubt, in McCain's view. Because Palin is not on the ticket to do anything. She's on the ticket to be something. It's all about firing up the non-ideological center--which can only be done by drowning the economic sufferings of average Americans once again under a wave of whitebred, flag-waving, faux populism. And it has rarely been put across more effectively than she did Thursday night. This tough politician is hardly "just your average hockey mom who signed up for the PTA," by a long stretch, but that doesn't make a damn bit of difference in American politics. Palin is certainly an extremist--but she doesn't come across like one, so the label is going to be tough to stick on her. All that matters, in our twisted and media-soaked politics, is that you play the part well. Palin's apparently got the knack. No matter how the plot might strain credulity, the performance was Oscar-worthy. And the Democrats have got themselves a whole new set of worries. When Palin cracked wise about Barack Obama or the media, she delivered the lines like a snarky neighbor leaning over the fence, complaining about the elitists--or the "good old boys"--to her next-door neighbor. Her dandiest line of the night, equally well delivered, was directed at Obama's stupid comment about the bitterness of struggling Americans: "We tend to prefer a candidate," she said, "who doesn't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco." This, more than anything, made me cringe. However much I admire Obama, it carried the ring of home truth--delivered by someone who can make such lines hit home. It's all pure-T BS, of course: another "everyday" politician who's going to put the screws to every working person in America if she gets the chance. But so was Nixon's populism, and Reagan's, and Bush's. Americans fully expect BS from their politicians. It only matters that it's the right kind. And Sarah Palin, as we learned last night, is frighteningly full of it.