Ms. blogger Audrey's analysis is spot-on:
At the Arizona rally, Palin trotted out the maverick label and praised McCain for his anti-Obama outsiderness. But her speech had a subversive undercurrent, working the seam of age and gender at McCain’s expense. For example, to illustrate how McCain’s “man of the people” stance hasn’t won him friends in Washington, she drew on her own expertise in beauty pageants, chuckling that “He could win the talent and debate portion of any pageant, but no one’s going to dub him Miss Congeniality.” Picturing McCain in a beauty contest is inherently incongruous (would he tap dance for talent?), and then to invoke him as Miss Congeniality? Such a title feminizes him and gives Palin a home-field advantage: She was, after all, Miss Wasilla–and Miss Congeniality.
(I meant to post this last week, but it completely slipped my mind!)