sarah palin knows (exactly 90 seconds worth of material about) the issues

One of the happy byproducts of Sarah Palin’s debate performance, to which conservatives – tense to the point of nausea that she might embarrass herself and her party – overreacted by substituting rapture for relief, is that the McCain campaign may be tempted to once again allow her to face actual questions by an actual reporter.

That would be awesome, because this is still a candidate with tremendous potential to not only stick a foot in her mouth but completely gnaw it off and suck dry the bones before realizing it’s her own.

That Palin showed decently last night was a tribute not to the candidate but the format – a debate sans any debate. The Alaska governor recited her scripts perfectly for the most part. But the questions were broad to the point of uselessness. And what fun we all could have had if the format had allowed for even a single follow-up question or even a bit of back and forth with Joe Biden.

As I noted in last night’s live blog with Luiza Savage, Palin was utterly at a loss on the rare occasions when a question didn’t match one of the 45 index cards she’d committed to memory. She would stare down at her notes. She would umm and ahhh. Consider this reply when the talk turned to nuclear war: “Nuclear weaponry of course would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people and too many parts of our planet.”

Got that? Nuclear war would kill just too many people. Bad nuclear weapons!

Anyone who last night watched CNN’s John King walk through the calculus of election day understands that, with only a month to go in the campaign, a McCain-Palin victory is a longshot at best. They need a miracle.

But the truth is they’re justified in looking on the bright side. They have good reason to believe in miracles. After all, against all odds, millions of Americans continue to look upon Sarah Palin as something other than an absolute joke of a candidate.

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