Several friends have sent me disappointed emails asking if Sarah Palin, previously unknown and light on experience, might not be another Dan Quayle.
The answer is no.
Look, I, too, would be a lot happier if Palin were in her second term as governor, not her first, and if she came from a populous major state, such as, say, Texas, instead of from Alaska. But whereas Dan Quayle never actually did anything for Bush, Sarah Palin has helped McCain in two important ways: She has cut short the attention the press would otherwise have lavished on Obama all weekend, limiting Obama’s bounce. This has solved McCain’s most immediate tactical problem. And she has thrilled the GOP’s conservative base, which can now in good conscience give itself to the McCain candidacy with enthusiasm–not feigned enthusiasm, real enthusiasm–for the first time since the senator entered the race. This has solved McCain’s worst strategic problem.
We’ll learn over the next few days how well Gov. Palin stands up to the pressures of a national campaign–her speech at the convention on Wednesday will prove critical. But whereas the very best that could be said of Dan Quayle is that he didn’t harm Bush’s candidacy all that much, the very least that can be said of Sarah Palin is that she has already put McCain closer to the White House.
Not a bad start.