Is it safe to like Sarah again?

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, prominent Sarah Palin fan-turned-skeptic-turned-oh-gawd-get-her-off-the-ticket-advocate, has now recovered from her brief spate of the vapors that led her to launch a one-woman “Dump Sarah” movement, and returned to the loving embrace of the pro-Palin fold.

On September 26, following Gov. Palin’s ghastly pseudo-interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, Parker posted a column to National Review Online that was half rueful lament and half panicky plea.  She reflected on her joy in the first couple of weeks following Palin’s assuming her place on the ticket, and concluded in morose retrospect, “it was fun while it lasted.”  Concluding that Palin was “Out Of Her League” (caps hers), Parker ended her column in an open appeal to Palin to “bow out” and “save McCain, her party, and the country she loves.”

The reaction was inevitable with such a piece from any conservative columnist.  It was snatched up by every mainstream reporter and liberal blogger from sea to shining website, paraded about like a head on a pike as incontrovertible evidence that McCain’s wild gamble on a backwoods hick governor had backfired and fried his campaign.  The schadenfreude was so suffocating that it could have dropped a rutting bull moose faster and with greater finality than the entire Palin family armed to the teeth.  The McCain-Palin bid was pronounced dead (again).

What a difference 90 minutes on a stage with Joe Biden can make!  Today’s column on Townhall.com reveals a “relieved” Parker.  The lead sentence asks in wonderment, “What did they do with the other Sarah Palin?”  If a Web page were capable of facial expressions, this one would be goggle-eyed and slack-jawed.  Parker still sounds a note of residual wariness about Palin’s fitness for office (“once bitten,” and all that) even as she hands her due credit for a satisfying debate performance.  However, while she still wonders whether Palin is able to lead the free world, she duly notes that such a question is no longer less daunting when directed at Barack Obama.

Her fellow columnist on the same site, Matt Lewis, posts his own reaction to the debate, entitled “Still Think She Should Step Down?”  Lewis is too much of a gentleman to mention Parker by name, or to make any churlish reference to her previous column, but then he doesn’t need to.

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