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For the last few weeks we’ve all heard the whispers – mostly from the talking heads in the mainstream press – that Sarah Palin isn’t up to the job of the vice presidency.  Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric’s interviews with Palin were really more like pop quizzes, and the democratic mouthpieces couldn’t contain their glee with her sometimes less than stellar performances.

But tonight Governor Palin held her own in a debate with Joe Biden, and something very important happened: she justified the hopes of her supporters.

The conventional wisdom in the press was that Biden, the seasoned politician and veteran of dozens of debates at diferent levels of government, was going to wipe the walls with Palin.  This was the hope of the democrats and the fear of the republicans.  But the reality was different.

Palin was frank and candid, and seemed comfortable in her own skin.  She touted her resume as a mother, a mayor, a commissioner, and a chief executive.  She spoke of her admiration and respect for her running mate, John McCain.  And she did it all with ease and confidence.

There were things that the governor could have done better.  For instance, she should have demanded the last word on several occasions when Biden punctuated his comments with cheap shots and democratic applause lines.  And it would have been better if she had spent more time on offense against Barack Obama instead of defending John McCain (and herself).  But Sarah Palin did enough things right without getting anything terribly wrong, and her highly credible performance is bound to reinvigorate the Republican base that had initially been so energized by her, and whose enthusiasm had begun to wane.

In that respect, Sarah Palin won tonight by not losing.

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