Peter just unraveled another wrinkle in Sarah Palin’s deviousness. As viewers of the vice presidential debate will recall, when the candidates came onstage, there was a brief exchange between them, transmitted across America even though it wasn’t clear whether they knew the microphones were transmitting:
PALIN: Nice to meet you.
BIDEN: It’s a pleasure.
PALIN: Hey, can I call you Joe?
PALIN: Thank you.
At the time, the exchange seemed charming. One inferred that Palin wanted to be sure that the rapport between her and Biden was warm, and the moment appeared genuine, because she didn’t seem to think anyone but Biden could hear her.
But it just occurred to Peter that Palin must have asked permission to call Senator Biden “Joe” because she had planned in advance to deploy against him the soundbite-ready line, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.” “Say it ain’t so, Senator Biden” wouldn’t have had the same ring.
To some extent, she lost her nerve. A guilty conscience? By my count, Palin went on to call her opponent “Senator Biden” eight times. Although Biden called himself “Joe” a few times, Palin called him that exactly once, in issuing her obviously prescripted attack. In other words, her girlish request “Hey, can I call you Joe?” was disingenuous. She was setting Biden up.