Despite everything John McCain and Barack Obama can do, Sarah Palin continues to be the liveliest of the candidates, now starting the clubhouse turn and about to race down the homestretch.
There's only one more presidential debate to endure. By this time in a campaign, both presidential candidates are so programmed, their talking points so tested and trite if not necessarily true, that viewers long for a refreshing gaffe. But all we get is a Tuesday-night debate where both men seem terrified of saying something interesting and new. Tom Brokaw tried.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is something else. She's clearly relishing the assigned role of the candidate for vice president -- going out to rough up the top of the other ticket, saying the things that a presidential candidate eager to appear presidential thinks and believes but would never say. She's the real deal with the gloves off and the bright red high heels on. Though this exacts a price, she's the proof that feminism, like her or not, has achieved its long-sought goal: Girls can take it just like boys, and they can dish it out, too. This may be remembered as John McCain's greatest gift to the ladies.
Palin recounted some of Barack Obama's adventures in Chicago, his consorting with retired terrorists and bigoted preachers, and she observed that anyone who could do that "is not a man who sees America like you and I see America" -- and for her trouble was pilloried as someone flirting with racism. Undeterred, she continues the attack. This is not a lady to vanish in a hail of sticks and stones.
Brigitte Bardot, the famous French sex kitten of the previous century, wrote to Sarah to tell her that she was "a disgrace to women" -- not because she is "not female enough" (in the way that Barack Obama's black critics early on complained that he was "not black enough"), but because she's cruel to polar bears.
She might not be a bigot in Bardot's view, but she gives a certain dog a bad name. She "implored" Gov. Palin never again to compare herself to a pit bull, with or without lipstick. "I know dogs," she wrote, faintly reprising Lloyd Bentsen's famous putdown of Dan Quayle as no equal to JFK, "and I can assure you that no pit bull, no dog, nor any other animal is as dangerous as you are."
The skeletal Madonna interrupted her latest national concert tour to tell an audience in New Jersey that "Sarah Palin can't come to my party. Sarah Palin can't come to my show. It's nothing personal." (Oh, dear.)