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Proving Sarah Palin

10/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

**UPDATE: Guess I was wrong...it's ABC. Maybe it'll be a real interview after all. (Or not, judging by Charles Gibson's performance during the primary debate.)**

**UPDATE 2: Read this and smile.**

With Sarah Palin breathing new life into an otherwise listless presidential campaign, John McCain has been, pathetically, more than willing to trade roles and let his running mate effectively campaign at the top of the ticket. The approach is simple: leverage the church-going hockey mom's celebrity status to maximize media exposure while minimizing the scrutiny that usually comes with it. The opportunity to keep this approach up will not last forever; pretty soon Palin will have to face the music. When that moment comes, the McCain campaign will carefully ensure that the tune is of their selection, the orchestra is fully vetted, and the conductor is a registered Republican.

Here's my prediction for how this plays out:

Palin is going to keep up her ruse of 'speaking directly to the American people' for as long as possible. The McCain campaign will revel in the headlines and the photo ops while explaining that Palin is merely showing America that she doesn't need to play by the liberal media's elitist rules. This precarious tactic has a shelf life -- my guess is about two to three weeks, maybe less. Eventually, her novelty will wear off a tad, voters (prompted by pundits and journalists) will start showing signs of apprehension that she really hasn't shown any policy expertise or ability to think on her feet, and reporters will get sick of being treated like paparazzi and will just stop covering her.

At that moment, Palin will do an exclusive, in-depth interview with FOX News. She'll probably let Chris Wallace do the questioning, just to keep up the appearance that she's being bold. FOX and the McCain campaign will hype the hell out of the interview as some sort of historic event. Meanwhile, the McCain campaign will broker an agreement in advance with FOX about all the questions they can't ask her. Wallace, or whoever does the interview, will mostly stick to the script, which means asking her about her personal life (the more sympathetic family ordeal-related questions the better) and about her meteoric rise from PTA activist to VP nominee. But he'll also throw in a couple of hardballs, the outlines of which she will have been given advance notice. One of those hardballs will be on foreign policy - something like "Barack Obama and Senator McCain now agree that the surge was an astounding success, not least because of the groundswell of support for the U.S. in Anbar Province. But with the Maliki government arresting former militants of the Awakening, how will a McCain-Palin administration continue to capitalize on this astonishing turnaround in Iraq?" Palin, who will have spent a good deal of time getting briefed in advance on how to pretend to speak with authority about Iraq and the Middle East, will give a passably acceptable response, throwing in a bunch of expert-sounding referents like "Diyala Province," "Muqtada Al-Sadr" and "Green Zone." She'll talk about Iran's influence in Syria through its proxy Hezbollah, and point out how important it is to make Cindy McCain the face of America in troubled regions of the world like Rwanda and Georgia. She'll show just enough of an appearance of command of the subject for the GOP to marvel at her performance, and for the McCain campaign and its surrogates to plant a week's worth of "I told you so" headlines. They'll argue that Palin has 'proven' her readiness to lead once and for all, silencing the doubts of the elitist haters in the media and the Democratic Party. Her triumph will be hailed as yet another history-making crack in the glass ceiling brought to you by this extraordinary small town hockey mom who's Just Like You. Then she'll promptly stick to a strict routine until Election Day of granting interviews only to representatives of magazines sold in supermarket checkout aisles.

And that will be the best case the GOP will be able to offer from now until November of Sarah Palin's readiness to lead on Day One.