Sarah Palin is stepping out of her shell to appear on SNL this week. This is a critical appearance – not for 2008, which is pretty much decided, but for her future as a Republican leader.
Palin’s selection as McCain’s veep energized the Republican party for a short period of time by signalling that the national ticket was willing to add a candidate who not only identified as a conservative but had governed (and lived) as one, as well. After a primary season where candidates fell all over themselves to quote Ronald Reagan, Palin was different in that she walked the walk. And of course, Republicans were eager to have their views articulated by someone other than an old white guy – just as the Democrats were when they rushed Barack Obama to the national spotlight in 2004.
This weekend, Palin begins the next phase of her political career. If she can hold her own and roll with SNL’s punches, she can earn a position of relevance as a GOP spokesperson and set up a possible 2012 run for the White House.