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You cannot make this up. Sarah Palin, the best-known hockey mom in the United States, gets booed Saturday at the Philadelphia Flyers hockey game. And the game is played, of all places, at the Wachovia Center. It’s all over YouTube: failing candidate, failed bank as corporate sponsor, the kind of anger that cannot be scripted.
The Philly welcome was what New York Times hockey blogger Lynn Zinser described as “resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd.” Don’t believe the reports that describe “a mix of cheers and boos.” There was a mix all right: a mix of boos and piped-in rock music that was like (we have to say it) lipstick on a pig.
You might excuse Governor Palin for thinking this appearance would be a public relations “gimme.” It was opening night and the fans would be in well-lubricated good spirits. The announcer’s voice on the Jumbotron, that twenty-first-century altar of truth, intoned, “Flyers fans, show Philadelphia’s class and welcome America’s number-one hockey mom, Sarah Palin!” And we all know Miss “Pallin’ Around with Terrorists” is nothing but classy.
As added insurance, the GOP vice-presidential candidate walked out on the ice with 7-year-old daughter Piper, who wore a Flyers jersey. Palin acknowledged this strategy beforehand, saying, “I’ve been warned that Flyers fans, they get so enthused, that they boo everybody at the drop of the puck. But what I thought I’d do is I’d put Piper in a Flyers jersey, bring her out with me. How dare they boo Piper!” Well, they dared, and Sarah Palin once again makes her case for mother of the year.
Maybe Philadelphia fans remembered that several weeks earlier, Palin almost got sent to the political etiquette penalty box for even thinking about jogging on the streets of the City of Brotherly Love dressed in a New York Rangers jersey. Maybe they were repulsed by the hard bigotry that Palin wears on the campaign trail as effortlessly as she wears that sparkly rhinestone flag pin.
Responsibility for this failed political charade starts and ends with Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, a big-time Republican donor who invited Palin on the mistaken assumption that she would burnish the brands of the sport and his team. This is yet another example why hockey is the worst-marketed game on the planet. It’s like inviting PETA to a barbecue. Palin’s negatives are almost Bushian. Outside her narrow base of nationalist bigots, the country is recoiling. Yet Snider and the NHL reasoned her presence would be a big publicity coup. All the while, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly insisted this was not about politics: “Governor Palin is a supporter of the sport, which she has proclaimed publicly. As a public figure who has a very public connection with hockey, her recent associations with the Flyers and other NHL franchises is not surprising and, in our view, not inappropriate.”