Below, Todd Palin's cummerbund is modeled after the Alaskan flag. (photo by Lynn Sweet)
Palin faces 'death panel' and leaves 'em laughing
GRIDIRON CLUB | She lightheartedly roasts journalists at their annual dinner
WASHINGTON -- "Sometimes you just got to trust your instincts. And when you don't, you end up in places like this," joked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at the Gridiron Club winter dinner. She was speaking to an unfamiliar audience Saturday night -- an exclusive gathering of journalists.
"At least now I can put a face to all the newspapers that I do read," Palin continued, spoofing that Katie Couric question to her during the campaign about what she reads.
Palin mocked herself -- and the reporters -- all in the spirit of the evening, which called for heavy doses of self-deprecating humor and gentle barbs: "It's good to be here though, really, in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals, or as I like to call it, a death panel."
Palin shared the bill at the black-tie dinner of the 124-year old club with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). She was joined by her husband, Todd Palin, and her parents.
Palin -- a potential 2012 presidential candidate -- is touring the nation promoting her memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life. Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, just published a biography titled Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman.
At the reception, Palin mingled and posed for pictures. She told me, when I asked, that her purse was made from otter. Todd Palin explained to me his cummerbund was based on the Big Dipper and North Star in the Alaskan flag.
Palin's speech was loaded with zingers -- aimed at her and the journalists. Palin, John McCain's running mate, had some interesting help in crafting her speech, enlisting Eric Schnure, a former speechwriter for former Vice President Al Gore.
Other good Palin lines:
• She almost had another title for her book. "Somebody suggested that I go with How to Look Like a Million Bucks for Only $150,000. Todd liked The Audacity of North Slope. I considered not having a title at all. I said it before, but some of the Beltway Boys just don't get it: that you don't need a title to make an impact." That was a dig at critics who slammed her for quitting as Alaska governor.
• Her book did not have an index, so she made one up: "So under A, we have Alaska, media not understanding, pages 1 through 432. Under B. Biased media; pages 1 though 432. And under C, conservative media, got to see acknowledgments for that."
• After her book came out, a cadre of former McCain staffers trashed Palin. Without using his name, she slammed Steve Schmidt, McCain's bald campaign manager. "Normally the Democrat speaker would deliver a speech after me. But instead, I hear the McCain campaign staff asked if they could use that time for a rebuttal. . . . Suffice it to say, that if ever I need a bald campaign manager, it appears all that I am left with is James Carville."
• On Vice President Biden: "I can't help think of what might have been. I can be the vice president overseeing the signing of bail-out checks and Joe Biden could be on the road selling his new book, Going Rogaine."
• Before Frank spoke, the Gridiron chorus sang a song about Frank to the tune of "We Three Kings." Retorted Frank, "I'm very flattered to be the second Jew to have that tune dedicated to."