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What On Earth To Make Of Palin?

I honestly have no idea. I thought she was halting at times, particularly when talking foreign policy. But part of that was her arhythmic accent, so it's tough to hold it against her. (And many voters will find it authentic.)

I also thought she came off as sort of perky, which is refreshing on some level, but not necessarily vice-presidential. And maybe you don't want to be so lacerating your first time out.

Still, she far exceeded expectations, at least if by expectations you mean the cartoonish image conservatives accused the media of creating. The CNN pundits are certainly gushing.

Strategically, my biggest quibble is that I don't see how you out-"change" and out-reform Obama. His credibility there has been pretty well-established. I'm not sure it helps to finish a close second on change if, in the process, you mostly junk the experience argument, which is a real vulnerability for him.

I thought Huckabee and Giuliani had the better change theme--some variation on "change, yes, but the right kind of change." As Huckabee put it: "John McCain offers specific ideas to respond to this need for change. But there are some things we never want to change--freedom, security, and the opportunity to prosper." By contrast, Palin sounded like she was vying to be the undisputed change champion of the world. As in: "Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That's why true reform is so hard to achieve."

That might work if she were running for president. But it's a little muddled with a longtime Republican senator at the top of the ticket.

--Noam Scheiber

Related: More from TNR on Sarah Palin's Big Convention Speech