Fox News reports that the political history of writing notes on one’s hand shockingly didn’t start with Sarah Palin in 2010. Twenty years before, Dianne Feinstein used it in a televised debate — despite its rules prohibiting the use of notes. Steve Doocy points out that Palin was just giving a speech, where the use of notes is somewhat expected (via Story Balloon, The Blog Prof, and PoliJam):
Honestly, this kerfuffle has me entirely perplexed. Who doesn’t know someone who routinely jots down notes on their hand? In my earlier career, I worked with several people who used this habit, including one of my key direct reports, perhaps one of the most competent people with whom I ever worked. In my mind, having someone at the podium that can speak at length more or less extemporaneously while working from a small set of notes indicates more poise, presence, and preparation than reading a prepared text word for word, although there’s nothing wrong with the latter approach, either. If Palin’s opponents are exerting themselves over the placement of the notes, it tends to indicate that they have no real substantive rebuttal to her speech.
Before the clip gets there, though, listen to what Dana Perino points out about the effectiveness of humor by the White House. I completely agree that we need a sense of humor, but that self-deprecating humor goes a long way to establishing rapport with people, while nasty snark aimed at one’s opponents winds up making the White House look petty.