In The Weekly Standard, executive editor Fred Barnes comes to much-maligned Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s defense.
Barnes argues that conservatives who have offered harsh assessments of Palin — Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, and Matthew Dowd – have never met the Alaska governor.
"The difference of opinion here, between those who know Palin and those who don’t, is unusual," he writes. "The criticism of Palin is personal. Normally in politics, campaign operatives are called on to make excuses for a dull and uninspiring candidate. Invariably, they explain that in private, especially face-to-face with a small group of voters, the candidate is dazzlingly likable and enormously persuasive.
"With Palin, it’s the opposite. No one questions her ability to excite a crowd. Simply by stepping on stage at rallies, Palin rouses audiences, and her speeches are frequently interrupted by chants of ‘Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.’
"It’s the private Palin, the person–who she is, what she knows, her lack of experience–that has provoked both the strongest criticism and most legitimate doubts about her readiness to be first in the line of succession if the president dies or is incapacitated."
He concludes, that in judging the GOP VP nominee, "it comes down to who is more credible. Is it those who’ve worked with her, or know her, or have at least met and talked with her? Or those who haven’t? The answer is a no-brainer. Okay, I may be biased on the subject of Palin, having been impressed after spending nearly two hours with her on one occasion and an hour on another.
"My advice is ignore the critics who know far less about Palin than she does about foreign policy. A good example is Ken Adelman, who headed the arms control agency in the Reagan administration. Adelman recently endorsed Obama and said he ‘would not have hired [Palin] for even a mid-level post in the arms control agency.’ Well, I know both Palin and Adelman. And Ken, I’m sorry to tell you, but I think there are an awful lot of jobs in Washington that Palin would get before you."
On a related note, you should check out Jane Mayer’s New Yorker story on "How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin."