Sarah Palin steps to the line

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In the days after the Republican convention in St. Paul, as Sarah Palin reveled in her newfound rockstar status and John McCain enjoyed his huge bump in the polls, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching something familiar.

Then it came to me. I had seen this before, during March Madness.

An obscure number sixteen seed plays a powerhouse program, seeded first in their region, in the first round.

The small school, say, Murray State, has a phenomenal first half and is actually within a few points of Michigan State at half time. Shocker.

Then, as the second half opens, the Racers actually pull ahead. The Murray fans are going bananas, the Spartans and their fans are rattled, and the TV numbers shoot through the roof.

But if you’re a basketball fan with any experience, you’re at home watching on TV, saying to yourself, “I’ll believe it when Murray is up by 10 with a minute left.”

Or sometimes you can just tell from the flow of the game that the lower seed is hanging on helped by sheer luck, or a mixture of serendipity and smart, passionate play.

But you’re just waiting for the number one seed to make its move and throw this pesky, puny challenger out of its way, overwhelming it with superior size, speed and skill.

That was where I thought we might be two weeks ago.

This week, and with tonight’s debate, we may have come to the five- or six-minute mark. There’s still plenty of time in the game for all kinds of developments, but the number one seed has begun to assert itself, has regained the lead, and is on the verge of putting away the underdog.

The underdog desperately needs points.

And freshman point guard Sarah Palin is at the line for a pair of crucial free throws.

What will she do?

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