A country band was twanging up a storm when I entered the Jefferson County Fairgrounds building where Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was slated to appear today. Didn't catch the name, although the lead singer had a rockin' pompadour and a beautiful brocaded black suit jacket that overwhelmed me with envy. The first ditty I recognized was George Strait's "Amarillo by Morning," followed a short time later by the de rigueur Lee Greenwood moment, courtesy "God Bless the USA." After a number of speeches, the band returned to run through the likes of Rick Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou" before giving way to piped-in music that was more diverse than the audience: McFadden & Whitehead's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" and Kool & the Gang's "Celebration." Then, when Palin decided to delay her comments until after President George W. Bush finished speaking about troubles in the financial markets, the invisible DJ aimed for the audience's sweet spot: "Gonna Fly Now," from Rocky, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" (reportedly a favorite of John McCain's), Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," John Fogerty's "Centerfield" and a return to the George Strait library with "Write This Down." Then, after Palin concluded, the speakers boomed out Rascal Flats' "Life Is a Highway." This mix probably says less about Palin than it does about the kind of voters her handlers hope to attract: good, hardscrabble folk -- or at least people who like to think of themselves that way -- who enjoy getting down, but not too far. In fact, the only person I saw dancing to any of this stuff was a three-year old boy wearing Crocs. Even at that tender age, however, he'd already perfected what Billy Crystal refers to as the white-man's overbite. -- Michael Roberts
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