I still think moose jokes are a waste of time. Is any swing voter going to think less of her because she knows how to deal with an animal that (while exotic in the continental USA) is native to her home state?I tend to think that the key to a good moose joke (or caribou joke) isn't to make swing voters think less of her due to her animal-killing ways. It is to emphasize the ridiculousness of the narrative the McCain campaign has built for Sarah Palin. It was the McCain campaign and Sarah Palin that injected her moose-hunting and dressing ways into the national scene, just like it was Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign who first said she had foreign policy experience because of Russia's close proximity with Alaska. In the same way Al Gore's candidacy lost steam and credibility in the wake of the "Al Gore invented the internet" meme, McCain's campaign can suffer from comments they made and narratives they actually set (because if nothing else, Al Gore never said he invented the internet).
The reason the moose joke is made isn't because the Left hates hunters or those who enjoy the outdoors; it is repeated and reused and recycled because Sarah Palin's ability to field dress a moose has nothing to do with her executive readiness, her policy positions, or her overall ability to lead. It just means that she can field dress a moose. And jokes about the disconnect between the two are an implicit indictment of the overarching idea that we have to personally want to hang out with a candidate in order to vote for them. It is illuminating the dark places of a campaign that has very little pull with voters on the actual issues of the day. The moose jokes can also be used to highlight the discrepancies between how the campaign frames Sarah Palin and how they treat her. Jon Stewart's recent comment about how she can pull out a moose's heart and eat it in front of the moose highlights the disconnect of the McCain campaign treating Palin like a "delicate flower". If she is such a force to be reckoned with, and that is what the moose-killing, no-blinking narrative suggests, then it makes no sense to continue to shield her from the press.
But more than that, I think what the jokes ridicule is this constant idea present in American society that those who live on the frontier are somehow greater Americans, more authentic and pure Americans, than those of us who live elsewhere. There is the constant and overwhelming theme that "small town America" is more real than the "big city". Sarah Palin is obviously someone we can trust. She's rustic; she was the mayor of a small town. She kills things. She is God-fearing, and she spends so much of her time telling us how great her family is. That is the narrative offered up by the McCain camp, and it is a false one. The moose jokes illustrate that; they point out that killing something doesn't make a person any more equipped to deal with the problems of the day. That skills and experience in one area doesn't necessarily translate to skills and experience in another area. It mocks the idea that Sarah Palin is any more of a "real" American than Barack Obama, or any of us who merely pick up our meat at the supermarket -or don't eat meat at all. But mostly, the moose jokes are a way of exposing a faulty and trite narrative, a narrative swing voters should not be swayed by even if they admire her pluck and skill in the wild. It asks us in the general public to question why Sarah Palin's skills in that area are important enough to even be mentioned; we don't hear about Barack Obama's extracurricular hobbies, nor John McCain's. But we hear about Palin's, which indicates that there is little else of substance there to discuss. And by consistently lambasting the narrative the McCain campaign has set forth, comics and comic wannabes force that fact. And I think the best of the jokes are not meant to demean moose hunting in particular or hunting in general, but to delve into the consciousness of American society and make us wonder why hunting is short hand for "really, really capable".