Chris, I have a different theory about why Sarah Palin has gotten more, not less, rattled in the spotlight. In a backhanded way it may even be a compliment. The theory is that Palin is actually astute enough to realize just how far in over her head she is. If she has a realistic sense of her own obvious limitations, then meeting several world leaders, and a storied diplomat like Henry Kissinger, and realizing how little you understand their fearsomely complex milieu, should be a terrifying experience. (At least George W. Bush, who was also rather clueless about foreign affairs, had the confidence of being the son of a president, and the exposure to the world of elite power that comes with it. Bush also knew he had his father and his father's team to call on anytime for candid advice.)
It occurs to me that even Palin's trip to New York this week might have been a dazzling, disorienting--and humbling--thing. How many times in her life has she ever visited Manhattan? Not many, I'd bet.
This all brings to mind, say, a novice mountain climber without the proper equipment who pauses halfway up, looks at the long, long way down, and thinks "What have I gotten myself into?"
P.S. Relatedly, Ben Smith flags this astonishing column from a semi-prominent conservative columnist who mournfully declares Palin unready and calls on McCain to drop her from the ticket. Hey, with 38 days to go, McCain's probably got about three more crazy stunts left in him--that could be one of them!