Can Sarah Palin now be called the Comeback Kid?
The Alaska governor's performance in St. Louis in the vice presidential debate with Joe Biden showed a lot of grit. From the git-go, Palin proved she was a gal ready to go toe-to-toe with Joe.
("Hey, can I call you Joe?")
Even Biden at times looked as though he admired the sheer fortitude it took for Palin not to wither or falter in the aftermath of disastrous interviews with ABC's Charlie Gibson and CBS' Katie Couric.
Palin demonstrated a fearlessness to be herself ("You betcha . . . Joe SixPack") even in the wake of Tina Fey's cutting parodies on "Saturday Night Live."
Politics, as Sen. Biden knows well from two failed presidential bids, in the end is about survival.
And Palin survived St. Louis. Who knows, maybe she borrowed a page from the book of Biden's late father. ("Champ, when you get knocked down, get up!")
Still, the debate took place on the same day that Palin's running mate, John McCain, abandoned Michigan as one of his battleground states. The meltdown of the economy and Barack Obama's momentum have made Michigan, home of Big Auto and high unemployment, unmanageable for the McCain campaign.
Old soldiers know it's hard to rebound when in retreat.
Not impossible, but hard.
By tomorrow or the next day, the vice presidential debate will be old news, just another blip on the radar screen of this election.
But before we move on to the next political event or headline moment, let's remember what Joe Biden accomplished Thursday night.
Biden was presidential. Steady. Commanding. Clear.
For all the alleged virtue of not being part of the Washington establishment, something Obama, McCain and Biden all pretend to be despite the fact that each is a member of the capitol's most exclusive legislative club, there is value in knowing how to work Washington. So give Biden points for understanding the system inside-out. And the world as well.
But here's the thing.
The debates that count are between the candidates who count: McCain and Obama. We have yet to see either emerge as a meaningful leader on the business of saving this economy.
Oh, sure, McCain worried out loud about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae a couple of years ago, and Obama had some conversations about his worries about sub-prime lending.
But do you remember either of them -- or anyone else, for that matter, including the governor of Alaska on behalf of the economy of her own home state -- beating the drum long and hard and loud about the warning signs of this collapse?
We need cool heads, smart people, and yes, experience to guide us. But we also need whoever is the next president to be bold enough and brave enough to dispense medicine we do not want to take. And remember, McCain and Obama love to denounce lobbyists while their campaign committees are populated by some of the richest people in America who may not be lobbyists but whose banks, hotels, and investment firms employ fleets of them.
So there is a lot to ask Barack Obama and John McCain in the four weeks left in this campaign. Because one of them is going to walk into the White House and find executives from Detroit, that embattled city in that battered battleground state, in the outer office waiting to plead that government save them from the fate of Lehman Brothers.
Can you say Chrysler?
We need the specifics we haven't heard yet.
Yes, George Bush is so yesterday, and Dick Cheney, thanks be to God, will be gone soon. (Here's a shout-out to that.)
But with the hope that a new administration will bring this country comes the fact that no one has yet offered a picture of how we will deal with worse news ahead.