Kathryn Lopez

U.S. Virgin Islands -- I suspect that when Time magazine chooses their Person of the Year for 2008, there will be little internal debate. They've probably long picked The One -- Barack Obama. After all, more than half the country went and elected him the next president of the United States.

And, come to think about it, the ink-stained pundits at Time have already vaulted the former senator from Illinois to top-dog status. When, last December, they declared the 2007 champion "You," they hit on one of the key ingredients to Obama's successful strategy: he was so disciplined, so likable, so broad in his way of speaking that Americans were able to project their hopes and dreams for their country onto him, regardless of what he actually had to offer.

But Time shouldn't diss the not insignificant portion of the country that voted for Republican John McCain. And, specifically, they shouldn't ignore the people who were energized by the addition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to his ticket. She offered something new on the right, something new from a woman and something new for Republicans. Mind you, Palin was far from the first pro-life conservative woman to appear in the Republican Party -- there are plenty of them in the House of Representatives. (With the defeat of Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, though, there are no pro-life women in the Senate.)

Whatever you thought of her, it seemed everyone in the country had an opinion of Palin -- at the very start, throughout, and after the Republicans' failed national campaign. And like Obama, all you had to do was look at her to see that she offered something different on a national ticket. In neither case did I think that novelty alone was a sufficient qualification for executive office, but the sheer innovative force of each was blindingly obvious, and the first things you noticed.

Here at National Review's post-election cruise, a group gathered for a weeklong post-mortem on the high seas has Palin on the brain. Palin's not on ship, but neither her absence nor the McCain loss has dampened enthusiasm for her here.

On the lighter side, one foreign policy expert showed up for a panel in a towel (but fully clothed underneath) in an act of solidarity with Palin (referencing the now debunked post-election story that she once appeared to top campaign officials in a towel). What is it about Sarah?

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.