Today, the New York Times takes a look at Sarah Palin’s future position within the Republican Party, whether John McCain wins or loses.

I think a quote by former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd captures the challenge Palin will face:

She’s an attractive woman who can give a great speech, but the American public doesn’t view her much beyond that … She’s vastly unpopular among moderate and independent voters, and while she could be in a position to be popular among an increasingly smaller Republican Party, she’s got to figure out a way to extend that and figure out a way to strengthen her weaknesses.

Palin has a lot of work to do if she wants to be a major player, either as Vice President or as a national political figure. But I don’t think her prospects are too dire. She has exceptional charisma and a solid personal narrative – and that stuff is often harder to come by than experience and substance. The charisma is the hard part of politics. The rest can be learned.

Palin is young. She has plenty of time to add substance to her political character. And plenty of time to develop some guiding principles that are more cohesive than her current inconsistent mix of social conservativism and semi-reformer instincts. She has a good chance of doing just fine so long as her various “scandals” don’t turn into anything serious.

Palin hit the stage a little too early in her career, but America is a forgiving place that loves a strong second act. I wouldn’t count Palin out, no matter how this election ends.

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