Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Voters have by now memorized Sarah Palin's string of historic firsts on a Republican presidential ticket: first woman, first hockey mom, first moose dresser. Now it turns out the 44-year-old Alaska governor has injected another groundbreaker into national politics.
She's a winker. She winks on rope lines and at rallies. She winked at least six times at 70 million viewers on the vice presidential debate platform opposite her rival, Sen. Joe Biden, who weighed in on the nonverbal communication scale by grinning like a nutcracker.
But it was the wink that ricocheted like a bullet across America, leaving some voters smitten, some confused and others nauseated.
A honking sound from her armpit might have generated less buzz. That would have been just weird. The wink is ambiguous, one of those rich, laden, intriguing signals of unspoken human messaging that is difficult to decipher but impossible to ignore.
There is not a lot of research on the origins of the wink. Some have suggested a rather gloomy start - from the word "hoodwinked," which may have stemmed from the custom of placing a hood over the heads of those about to be hanged. The Bible warned against it in Proverbs: "Whoever winks the eye, causes trouble."
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with