If she proves unready for the task, as she might - just too inexperienced, too brittle at this point for national politics - she and her running mate will surely go down to defeat. But she has a good story to tell - of a bright, idealistic young woman who has already changed the politics of her state and can do the same for the country. If she can pull it off she won't be underestimated again.
In short, Sarah Palin is a slightly terrifying figure. She threatens established orders in American political life. It's no wonder those orders have sought by turns to diminish and then denigrate her. It's true too that there's much that is still unknown about John McCain's choice. She lacks any foreign policy experience; she has not yet been tested on the presidential election campaign trail, as fierce a crucible as there is in public life. In the remaining weeks of this election campaign, she will surely get that test. Senator McCain will know just how big a gamble he took when he chose her.