Debra J. Saunders

It is clear that Palin has energized the conservative base, but to win, the McCain/Palin ticket needs to reach out to independent voters who don't quite know what to make of her. On her stump speeches, Palin rarely speaks to the uninitiated and invites them into the tent. That's not how you govern.

Palin's readiness is vital, pundits say, because they must be hard-edged and realistic about the chances of the 72-year-old McCain living through a four-year term. Thus they relentlessly poke Palin yet barely muss Biden's hair.

OK. Let's be uncompromisingly realistic. McCain's 96-year-old mother is ticking and lucid. Obama's mother died of cancer at age 52. Obama, 47, smoked for years and admits to sneaking the occasional cigarette.

So maybe it should have been a bigger story when Biden told Couric, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn't just talk about the, you know, princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" Wrong president, no TV in 1929 -- and Team Obama calls McCain "erratic."

In the debate with Palin, Biden was trying to show what a regular guy he is when he said, "Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years." One problem: Katie's closed in the 1980s.

Biden's biggest debate gaffe came when he tried to explain that he voted to authorize the war in Iraq -- the one Obama believes was started to distract voters from a bad economy -- because he thought he was voting to help Bush keep the United Nations in line. I don't know about you, but I do not think Americans want a man so easily duped one heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

Debra J. Saunders

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