Recent years in America have seen a languid national Republican Party, which has been struggling to recruit members, formulate a salient message, and win elections. As the war in Iraq has drawn on and the government has grown exponentially in size, voters have avoided the Republican Party like Michael Moore avoids exercise. In winning the party’s nomination for the presidency, Senator John McCain had showed sparks of inspiration, but has largely been wearing the concrete boots of the Bush/Cheney administration.

That may have all changed on Wednesday night, as the Republicans introduced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the world. Palin’s speech netted 38 million viewers – just as many as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention six days earlier – a speech that many hailed as the most anticipated in history.

Yet it appears the nation may be equally enthralled by the new GOP “Supermom.” For Republicans, Palin represents a trojan horse – buttressed by her credentials as a government reformer and mother of a special needs child, Palin struck a soft pose as she took the podium in front of a delirious convention on Wednesday night.

Yet much of Palin’s speech didn’t match the delicate exterior she portrays. She took a howitzer to her critics, and sarcastically mocked Barack Obama’s experience and qualifications – yet never stopped smiling.

Had it been Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty on that stage attacking Obama, America may have recoiled from the criticism of The Chosen One. They would have figured the shots delivered were just more Republican white guy vitriol. But because Palin’s.demeanor is so appealing, she may be the one VP pick McCain could have made that can penetrate Obama’s armor – and she seems to revel in the opportunity. It appears she will be Fed-Ex’ing Obama a weekly stool sandwich in her official duty as campaign attack dog.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Democrats to attack Palin – manufacturing stories before the convention even began. Yet the intensity of the Obama supporters’ criticisms are directly proportional to how quality of a pick she was for McCain. The Democrats know they need to take her out – now. Because she has what they like to call in football “breakaway speed.” Let her get a head of steam, and you may be looking at the back of her jersey until she gets to the goal line.

In this sense, Palin might be the Republicans’ performance-enhancing mom. She has given them the shot in the arm they needed to make this race competitive, as long as they don’t get a big Barry Bonds-sized head and blow it all.

-September 5, 2008