The following is a commentary by ABC News' Sam Donaldson. Click here to view a video version of his latest essay.
Let us examine the proposition that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be the president of the United States ... not next year but in four years, or later. And before you click off this blog muttering darkly about how Donaldson has gone round the bend, take a moment to hear me out.
If the McCain-Palin ticket loses this election, as now seems most likely, in no way can you blame Palin even if you think John McCain was wrong to put her on the ticket and even though more independents than not appear to be turned off by her this year.
Sen. Barack Obama, President George W. Bush and the times are the principal culprits behind the prospective Republican defeat.
So the conservative base of the party will in no way abandon its affection for her. And before people down their noses at that, I think there are signs that the woman from Alaska (who has clearly been out of her depth on the national scene this year) is a fast learner.
Sign No. 1: She has cut her ties almost completely with the McCain staff. "She doesn't listen to us anymore. She's going her own way," one of McCain's top aides groused the other day.
And really, why should she not? They brought her (actually bought her) such missteps as the $150,000 clothes purchase fiasco. She didn't do that, and she has now wisely renounced it.
Sign No. 2: On the campaign trail she keeps slipping in her own views when they differ from McCain's policies. She says she would not have abandoned Michigan, she would talk about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; she still does not buy McCain's view of humankind's contribution to global warming, etc, etc.
It would be wrong to freeze the picture of someone who couldn't or wouldn't tell Katie Couric what magazines she reads and not understand that four years from now she will spout the names of magazines until they run out of our ears.
Of course, a President Obama would have to "mess up" to give any Republican nominee a chance to deny him re-election, but presidents can and do "mess up."
So, there's the case for Sarah Palin becoming president, and if it doesn't happen in 2012 just wait -- she is only 44, which means we could be looking at 2032 as her last chance.
Sam Donaldson, a 41-year ABC News veteran, served two appointments as chief White House correspondent for ABC News, from 1977-1989 and from January 1998 to August 1999, covering Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton. Donaldson also co-anchored, with Diane Sawyer, "PrimeTime Live," from August 1989 until it merged with "20/20" in 1999. He co-anchored the ABC News Sunday morning broadcast, "This Week With Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts," from December 1996 to September 2002. Currently, Donaldson appears on ABC News Now, the ABC News digital network, in a daily show called "Politics Live."