The reviews of Sarah Palin’s big speech have been widely positive. I’m not deviating from that trend. I thought she did an incredible job. Content aside, she was personable, tough and not at all too small for the stage.

There is still a lot of campaigning left, but I think we can safely say: Palin is no Dan Quayle. She can more than make up for her slim experience through her obvious intelligence and powerful charm/rhetorical skills (kind of like someone we know on the Democratic ticket, no?). She managed to weave together a speech that featured typical Republican bromides, cut-and-paste attacks on Barack Obama and a sprinkling of maverick-ness and yet, she somehow sounded fresh.

I think Palin’s going to be a much stronger addition to the McCain campaign than many of us originally believed. I think she’ll give Biden a surprisingly tough time in the Vice Presidential debate and I think she’ll charm more voters than the Obama campaign would like to admit. There has never been a major American political figure quite like her. Her very presence will help McCain deflect the notion that he’s offering “more of the same.”

Now, the question is, can she keep it up? If it’s all downhill from last night’s speech, then all those positive attributes I mentioned will fade from the public’s memory. Her experience is still an albatross. Her maverick tendencies are muted by her social conservativism. To Palin be an effective gamble for McCain, she has to keep up the intelligence and the charm. Do that and the Republicans have a shot at this thing.

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