This week Sarah Palin went head-to-head with the mainstream media for the first time, sitting (and standing and strolling) for a series of interviews with ABC News anchor, Charles Gibson.

An Aside: she is better on the move. Her best exchanges came when she was standing and walking. Coincidence? Her team ought to think about that.

The overall outcome? As I previously confessed, I agree with James Carville, the famous Democratic strategist, who pronounced her performance a C-. She passed (not exactly with flying colors)--but she passed.

We are both disappointed and relieved.

Relief: It could have been worse. You risk almost everything on these engagements. Charlie Gibson was out to end the short but exceptionally dramatic political life of Sarah Palin. He did not accomplish his mission. We made it through the long night alive. The banner of Sarah Palin still waves over the land of the free and the party of brave. We did not give away any of the precious ground recently acquired as a result of her flawless debut. Hopefully, the interview was as bad as it gets.

Disappointment: Most of us were secretly hoping (or maybe not so secretly--maybe some of us were actually starting to believe) that Sarah Palin really was a Republican David. She had appeared from nowhere and offered a confident smile in the face of a deafening roar of ridicule and smug derision. As we trembled at the task confronting us, she stepped forward and slew the terrible behemoth with alacrity and unimaginable skill. Consequently, her great feat energized the previously demoralized children of Reagan, suddenly silencing the over-confident Philistines across the valley, and beginning a panic on that side of the cultural divide that certainly had the potential to end in an unanticipated rout. It naturally followed that our David might lead the charge to complete the campaign and lead us to victory, unity, and a long reign of peace and stability.

The Interview was a warning that victory is within sight (to quote one of her now famous stump speech lines), but the battle remains intense and indeterminate. Even worse, Palin may be something less than a storied champion with perfect political pitch and irresistible charm in every respect, in every venue, for every occasion.

Governor Palin has limits.

If you had watched her gubernatorial debate back in 2006 (archived here on C-SPAN), you were probably not too surprised by the Gibson interview. Palin is good enough meeting the press--but not flawless. From the Alaska debate you get the sense that Palin is not quite comfortable sitting across the desk from hostile reporters (and they are hostile), but she soldiers through it--and, the good news, as indicated by her success at the polls and her astronomical public approval ratings, her wide fan base accepts this less impressive component of her political package and votes for her anyway.

In that vein, it is instructive to remember that our hero, Ronald Reagan, had similar hardships with a disdainful media. If you remember RR as the perennial master of the Washington press corp, refresh your memory with this 1966 clip from Meet the Press.

Like Reagan, Palin faces a press corps that judges itself morally and intellectually superior. At the same time, the mainstream media sees the insurgent new face from the West as dangerous in two respects: a dissenter regarding the enlightened progressive status quo and an appealing fool with the potential to mesmerize the ignorant masses hailing from the backward hamlets of Red State America.

In the end, Reagan triumphed against these forces aligned against him and intent on "exposing him" (an amazing accomplishment when we consider he was virtually on his own--no conservative talk radio, no FOX News, and no conservative blogosphere). We should not forget, however, Reagan occasionally stumbled in his direct engagements with the press, sometimes looking red-faced and confused. Who could blame him? The sincere Westerner faced a relentless and ruthless parade of reporters looking to make a name on the carcass of Ronald Reagan. Nevertheless, he found a way to speak directly to Americans, going over the heads of the antagonistic press.

We have known Palin for a fortnight. She may or may not prove to be a Ronald Reagan in the fullness of time. However, it is unlikely that she will be Reagan, circa 1980, during this election cycle. She is more likely to be Reagan, circa 1966 (although we can certainly hope for Reagan, circa 1976).

Bottom Line: We cannot place our fortunes solely in the hands of Sarah Palin. We need John McCain and, more importantly, the Republican grassroots to bring us home. Sarah Palin got us even. Because of her, we now have a chance. We cannot expect any more than that.

One other specific silver lining: in re the "expectations game," her less than stellar performance in the interview takes some pressure off her head-to-head with Joe Biden on 2 October. Better for the GOP, if she goes into that contest as a slight underdog.