10/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let's Lay Off Sarah Palin

As of this writing, before Sarah Palin's speech Wednesday night, it is already clear what her message will be. Just read this Washington Post account, which begins:

Sen. John McCain's top campaign strategist accused the news media Tuesday of being "on a mission to destroy" Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin by displaying "a level of viciousness and scurrilousness" in pursuing questions about her personal life.

The McCain campaign wants voters to believe that media bias, along with what Republicans like to call "the angry Left," make Sarah Palin a victim whose scrappy comeback will only further galvanize the Republican base, and maybe pick up some disaffected women.

It might work. Politicians from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton have come back after being written off (though it didn't work for Kwame Kilpatrick). Everyone likes the underdog.

The McCain campaign can't afford to admit they didn't ask Palin the right questions early enough in the process. ("Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Alaskan Independent Party? How about your husband?") Nor can they acknowledge what I'm sure was a heated debate between John and Cindy McCain and everyone else when, the day before she was offered the nomination, Palin revealed her 17-year old daughter was pregnant. Like a supertanker, a presidential campaign is hard to turn on a dime. There could be no backing down at the last minute.

Karl Rove and his disciples on the McCain campaign are leading us into a trap by making it so easy to focus our fire on Sarah Palin. They know the only way to energize the Bush base, and maybe pick up some disaffected women, is to focus on media bias and what they like to call the "angry Left." We need to let Sarah Palin self-destruct, and go back to our primary focus -- change versus a third term for George W. Bush.

Repeating what makes Palin unworthy of her role risks making us look like elitists. I'll never forget the NPR interview during the 2000 campaign in which a woman at a Bush rally was asked if it bothered her when people said George W. Bush was stupid.

"No it doesn't," she said in what I came to realize was the voice of doom. "Smart people don't have all the answers."

But really smart people know when to shut up.

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