A Bosque Boys Timeline:

30 August: A Hail Mary (a low-percentage play that just might work and why).

31 August: The Genius of the Palin Pick (three reasons why Palin might play well and a prediction that the prObama frenzy might backfire).

5 September: The Homerun (how Palin's convention speech changed the nature of this contest).

6 September: Is She Reagan? (she is engaging and polarizing, in a positive political way--but a word of caution: we have only known this woman for eight days).

11 September: Immediate Analysis of the Charlie Gibson interview (not devastating but not great). September 12: Charlie sinking; Sarah on the rise.

13 September: Let's be honest
with what we have here (Sarah has limits; she is no Republican David; she may be as good as Reagan was when he first emerged on the national stage--but early Reagan was much rougher than we remember).

Where Are We Now?

Palin is not as good as her maiden speech--but she is not as bad as Tina Fey (who, by the way, may well prove to be the single-most influential and effective outside actor in this entire election season).

What has happened to our girl? Bill Kristol had it right today on FOX News Sunday: "we have not let Palin be Palin."

We/they have gotten inside her head. She is a raw natural talent with great instincts. We have filled her head with "do's and don'ts." Team McCain has overprotected her, creating the impression inside and outside the camp that she is vulnerable. They have her second-guessing herself.

She needs to relax. She needs to breath through her eyelids.

Let Palin be Palin.

It is worth mentioning that no candidate in history has ever had so much scrutiny and/or so many bright lights in the American intelligentsia rooting for her complete and utter humiliation. In this way, at least, she is Reaganesque.

There is no question that she faces an atrocious double standard. If some reporter had her on tape blithely conversing about visiting all fifty-seven states, or placing President Roosevelt on TV in 1929, she would be over. Sarah Palin does not get the benefit of the doubt, ever. She is the nation of Israel; every battle, every interview is a fight for survival. She is singular among the candidates in that she faces a sudden-death situation every time she walks out of her house.

An Important Aside: the double standard is not sexist--although her liberal tormentors play on sexual stereotypes. Rather, the double standard is the half-century-old conservative disadvantage dealing with left-leaning media institutions, multiplied by a factor of 100 because so much is at stake and her presence makes the race so volatile.

But no honest observer can deny the double standard. Obama can hem and haw, stammer and stutter, and misspeak all across America--but nothing he says will ever do damage to the template of the articulate and erudite constitutional law professor. Joe Biden is good for a gaffe a day (and the Roosevelt thing is perhaps the worst of all time--much worse than "potatoe" in the mind of this history teacher), but none of that matters. Joe Knows.

In truth, none of these gaffes really do matter very much--but the glaring unfairness of the coverage frustrates us. "Call 'em both ways, ref." You can call fouls any way you choose--just make sure a foul is a foul on both ends of the court.

So What?

We got a big event coming on 2 October. It's a Thursday (one day before my 10th Wedding Anniversary--thanks be to God). But this truly is Must See TV.

Conventional Wisdom: silver-haired Senator Joe Biden is going to demolish Tina Fey.

My guess (my hope, perhaps) is that Tina Fey won't show up. From Day One, we have all known Sarah Palin had to deliver on two occasions: her convention speech and the veep debate. She hit a homerun in late August. If she can muster coherence on this Thursday night in early October, it will be tantamount to slapping a tough pitch down the first base line into the right-field corner for a triple.

Is that even possible? If nothing else, we have the expectations game on our side. Although Team Obama understands this--and with their willing accomplices in the media--they may attempt to rehabilitate Palin a bit this week, to fatten her up for the kill. However, Tina Fey and the boys (ours and theirs) and Sarah Palin herself have done too much over the last fortnight to establish the Palin template--it is set in stone.

We will be tuning in on Thursday to see a ferocious liberal lion devour a confused and nearly defenseless Christian. If she can hold her own, we might just have something new to talk about for a week. If she can rise above the expectations, SNL may actually have to come up with a goofy Democratic character.

On the other hand, if she falters at all, say goodnight, Gracie. This debate very well could be exactly what most observers expect: the final nail in the coffin for McCain-Palin 2008.