I remember where I was when McCain picked Sarah Palin distinctly - I had just broken up with my fiancee, and for Labor Day, I went to stay with my friends Eric and Jessica, at their place in Santa Clara (speaking of which, St. Joe is a far better name for San Jose than San Jose: it fits the town better). Anyway, I remember the announcement and thinking - wait, isn't she the one who fired her brother-in-law up in Alaska or something. I thank Talkingpointsmemo.com for that.
Anyway, my thinking thereafter was primarily based on strategy - Sarah Palin had very little experience in politics, and that by picking Palin, McCain screwed up his best narrative against Obama - that he was simply not ready to become President. That narrative was so strong that Obama picked Biden to cover his ass. Not only did Palin kill that narrative, but she caused all kinds of headaches for the McCain campaign. It got to the point where McCain wouldn't let Palin give a concession speech (which, as it turns out, is relatively common in Presidential elections).
As we move forward to 2012, Palin is now on everyone's minds. Well, that and the fact that her putative son-in-law is posing for Playgirl, and Palin is putting out a book that she "cowrote" and was on Oprah and everything. So, allow me a few thoughts on Palin, from best to worst:
1) She's got "It" - Most candidates and politicians are like everyone else - they are relatively uninspiring, and modestly charismatic. Some politicians, though, ooze charisma from their pores. Obama's got It, Clinton has It, and Bush, to some extent, had It. And, Sarah Palin has It. When Sarah speaks, people react with cheers or jeers, but no one yawns. That's why, even as Palin created headache after headache, McCain thought, and probably still thinks, that Palin was the best thing for his campaign. The McCain of 2008 didn't have the It factor that McCain had in 2000. Moreover, Palin is the only Republican that has the It factor right now.
2) She's Ruthless - Palin refers to herself as the pitbull in heels, and she is definitely that. Like any good politician, Palin has no qualms about throwing anyone under the bus. That's a good thing.
3) She doesn't have much else - Herein lies the disaster for the GOP: Sarah Palin doesn't have the depth or convictions to run for President. She's not just inexperienced, but she's anti-experience, anti-intellectual, anti-depth. If, however, she buckles down, studies and gains some knowledge, she can be formidible. As we saw in California with Ahnuld, a little bit of knowledge with a lot of charisma is a powerful combination. But she has to be smart enough to pull it off.
And here's where Palin can be a real problem for the GOP - the base of the Party loves her, and is willing to cut her slack and that's the worst thing that can happen. For independents to take Palin seriously, she's going to have to be very strong on at least a few issues. The more popular Palin is, though, the less likely she's going to work hard enough to get strong enough. I could very well see Palin taking the nomination and then getting absolutely crushed by Obama.
4) Drama, Drama, Drama - Obama is fascinating because his talents are otherworldly - he's the Superman of oration - but most politicians who are "fascinating" are trainwrecks who create drama. Does Oprah and her viewers really care about Obama's puppy? Not really, but the idea that Superman washes dishes and puts his pants on one leg at a time is interesting. Palin, on the other hand (like Clinton), has a son-in-law posing naked (or mostly naked), an allegedly abusive brother-in-law, a teenage unwed mother daughter, a special needs child, odd personal expense reports, feuds with the McCain campaign, and the First Dude. Going rogue, indeed. At any point in time, Palin can, and will, go sideways on you. That has to scare the hell out of anyone.
****Of Topic Re:Terror Trials**** - Goddamned right in my opinion. Those bastards should face a New York jury for the crimes committed in New York. This isn't about their rights, its about the right of the People to condemn murderers to death. Yes, I get that terrorists are different, but the last thing we should do is elevate these assholes.