Unless something else unexpected happens (and it could), Sarah Palin has made it a race. Tonight she was a more compelling and powerful presence than was John McCain. Does she belong in the big time? Judging from this performance, yes. She delivered under enormous pressure, and with great poise. It was an an effective attack on Obama and his supporters, from the right. Yes, she was reading from a script, and yes, she has yet to deal with press conferences, a debate with Biden, subpoenas from the Alaska State Legislature, and other challenges. But I don't think the Democrats will underestimate her political abilities after tonight.
Her reputation in Alaska, after nearly two years as Governor, is that she is acutely aware of her public popularity, and if not arrogant, is pretty confident. Over time, her appeal has worn a bit thin in some quarters in Alaska, particularly among the State legislature and the Alaska press corps. She has not run a particularly tight ship as Governor, reportedly holds few cabinet meetings, has run up the state operating budget, and is engaged in a transparent cover-up of questionable actions involving the state police. As of a week ago, her popularity was somewhat in decline. But this election will be over in about two months. It will be interesting.