Sarah Palin worked her heart out. She energized tens of thousands to come out when they would have otherwise stayed home. She touched countless families. I didn't agree with everything she said on the campaign trail. But she vigorously defended the Second Amendment and the sanctity of life more eloquently in practice than any of the educated conservative aristocracy. And she did it all with a tirelessness and an infectious optimism that defied the shameless, bottomless attempts by elites in both parties to bring her and her family down.
Liberty needs a virtuous people to survive; self-governance requires virtuous leaders. "Knowledgeability" is a necessary trait in political life, but it is not sufficient. The elitist critics of Palin, so blindly enamored of Barack Obama's ability to hold forth for hours on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, ignored the Founding Fathers' counsel: Character counts. In times of adversity and crisis, it counts more than IQ points, instant trivia recall and bloviation skills.
"The most important thing I have learned, from my parents, from teachers, from my faith, from many good people I have been blessed to know, and from the lives of people whose stories we have included in this book," John McCain wrote in "Character Is Destiny," "is to want what they had, integrity, and to feel the sting of my conscience when I have risked it for some selfish reason."
John McCain not only failed to make that message stick with the electorate, he apparently couldn't persuade his own staff to heed his advice and practice what he preached.