“Thrilla from Wasilla”

Whoever said don’t send a woman to do a man’s job was still waiting for the wheel to be invented. Sarah Palin, the human bailout plan for the sagging John McCain campaign, didn’t crash and burn during her VP debate last week with Joe Biden. As she did during the GOP convention, the folksy femme showed she’s got game — when she’s scripted. She recited what was drilled into her head like she was auditioning for a movie. Well, move over, Meryl Streep, you’ve got company. Palin even has an accent you’d find a challenge to perfect.

Palin was going to continue to be precious fodder for comics and satarists regardless of her debate performance. She certainly connected with the Heartland with the “Joe Six-Pack” and “hockey maum” references for, hopefully, the last time. Are the references becoming annoying? You betcha! Palin also went to the Ronald Reagan playbook a little too often to score points. She wasn’t so much channeling the former president as she was rattling his dead bones. And while we’re at it, spare us the maverick talk. A maverick doesn’t keep the Bush campaign fearmongers on to run his campaign or prep you for your debate.

Palin was alarming with her theory that the VP should have more power than the Constitution states. That must’ve turned Dick Cheney’s smirk into a smirk-smile. It harkens back to an earlier campaign stump when she said a “Palin-McCain administration.” A VP with more power shouldn’t only alarm the voter, but McCain as well. Besides, do we really want a VP who winks? OK, it’s cute when Palin does it — especially if you listened to some conservative pundits who thought it was better than having The Playboy Channel.

Palin is the real deal when it comes to celebrity in this campaign. Compared to her, Obama is, well, a community organizer. She mugged for the camera and only came across as sincere when it was apparent she loves the spotlight and can master it. She’s an on-air personality who convinced the public she can be a broadcaster. (Hokey-smokes, Ronald Reagan was a broadcaster at one time. Rattle dem bones.)

Biden won the debate on substance — but he let the “thrilla from Wasilla” land more than a few style punches. He took them in stride — playing too much by the “don’t be condescending or patronizing to her” book. He and moderator Gwen Ifill let Palin control the tone of the debate — she wouldn’t even answer some questions put to her and said she wouldn’t before they were posed.

Palin has succeeded at overshadowing the top of the GOP ticket. Republicans may be secretly hoping this will be the first time in a presidential campaign that voters will cast their ballots for the running mate. In fact, they should consider sending Palin in McCain’s place to debate Obama on Tuesday. IShe’s a ratings magnet. If not, she can at least help John McCain work on his wink.

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