Astoundingly, Sarah Palin may single-handedly be giving John McCain another chance at victory, one which seemed a distant hope after Obama's night at Invesco (which now feels like a month ago).

Why? Certainly not her qualifications, such as they are. Nor her ideology; Palin may be exciting the conservative base--but McCain will need more than that to win.

The answer is that she has become the thing McCain spent the summer attacking: a celebrity. Palin thrives because she is a cultural phenomenon. She is young, attractive, and grew up in a strange place. Sound familiar?

Throw in several elements that are manna for daytime TV--gender, motherhood, family, even a Jamie Lynn Spears cameo--and you have a cocktail at least as powerful as America's fascination with Obama's race. The question is whether it can trump issues and ideology. 

But let it be said that if there was one celebrity in this race a week ago, there are two now.

--Michael Crowley

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