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Sarah Palin: pro and con

August 30, 2008 |  3:42 pm

Amid the torrent of coverage of the heretofore obscure Sarah Palin, there comes today a classic clash -- via dueling columns -- from two noted commentators on whether John McCain hit a home run by tapping her to be his running mate or struck out.

From the right, making the case for the round-tripper (with a caveat), is the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol. Says he in an editorial for his magazine:

Millions of Americans -- mostly but not only women, mostly but not only Republicans and conservatives -- seemed to get a sense of energy and enjoyment and pride, not just from her nomination, but especially from her smashing opening performance.

Palin will be a compelling and mold-breaking example for lots of Americans who are told every day that to be even a bit conservative or Christian or old-fashioned is bad form. In this respect, Palin can become an inspirational figure and powerful symbol.

Kristol's one caution is summarized by the piece's headline -- he opines that the McCain camp must "Let Palin Be Palin" if it's to fully benefit from her.

From the left comes the alternative take by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, and the headline and subhead for his piece make his view clear:  "McCain's 'Hail Sarah' Pass ... His choice for veep is all but set up for failure in the fall."

Alter writes that for all the initial excitement Palin's selection sparked within the GOP, "there's a reason that rookies" usually flail about on the main stage of U.S. politics. In predicting that fate for the former mayor of a small Alaskan community (referenced in this passage), he writes:

It's not her lack of name recognition; America loves a fresh face, especially one that's a cross between a Fox anchor and a character on "Northern Exposure," the old TV show about an Alaska town about the size of Wasilla.

The problem is that politics, like all professions, isn't as easy as it looks. Palin's odds of emerging unscathed this fall are slim.

On election day, one of these pundits will be able to pat himself on the back; the other will hope folks forgot what he wrote.

-- Don Frederick

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