Cal  Thomas

Watch during her debate with Joe Biden - and even before that Oct. 2 event - for journalists to portray her as a know-nothing about foreign affairs. They'll try a version of the pop quiz given to George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign when he had trouble naming the leaders of Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan. Palin could score points with voters who loathe the big media by not only answering such a question correctly, but by also asking this one ("how is it your network pays you so much money to ask a stupid question like that?")

Unlike the Democrats, who only talk reform, Palin has bucked her own party to attack corruption and get things done in Alaska. Imagine a Democratic politician doing that.

As for being the first Republican woman on a national ticket, this ought not to be about gender, but ideology. Sarah Palin seems to have more common sense than a lot of male politicians. That should play well with Middle America and blue-collar voters who rely more on their own common sense than poll-tested pronouncements by elected officials. And she wore a skirt and heels at her introduction last week in Dayton, Ohio. That should count for something among men and women who are tired of pantsuits.

Someone pinned "Iron Lady" on Margaret Thatcher after she became prime minister of Britain. It was meant as criticism. Thatcher took it as a compliment and used it to advance her conservative agenda.

Sarah Palin is going to need a moniker other than "Barracuda." I offer her "Steel Magnolia." In the 1989 film "Steel Magnolias," Ouiser Boudreaux, played by Shirley MacLaine, delivers one of many classic lines: "I'm not as sweet as I used to be." While anything can happen in politics and McCain's selection may be risky, my bet is that the pretty, pro-life, gun-toting, hockey mom is going to pleasantly surprise a lot of people with her toughness and common sense view of life and the world.

If I were Joe Biden, I'd be careful. This steel magnolia might reduce him to tears.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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