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Palin’s appeal is not that hard to define. She’s neither outspoken nor eloquent. And the conservatism she espouses is fairly conventional. It’s who she is–her story, her biography–that has stirred fascination and enables her to connect with voters. She’s a mother of five, a serious Christian, a tough-minded governor of Alaska, a fearless slayer of (male) political bigwigs, a beauty queen, a hunter. Palin, as best I can describe it, exudes a kind of middle-class magnetism. It’s subdued but nonetheless very powerful.

Republicans, even some McCain advisers, have yet to realize the enormous asset they have in Palin: She’s the party’s most crowd-pleasing and exciting figure since Ronald Reagan. Okay, she’s not a “new Reagan.” That role will remain eternally unfilled. Palin lacks Reagan’s decades of political involvement, his knowledge, and especially his grounding in conservative thought.

Her conservatism is more instinctive. Her Republican heroes, besides McCain, come to a grand total of two, Reagan and Lincoln. And for now, she’s a neophyte in national politics, having been picked by McCain less than two months ago.

But Palin does have a few of Reagan’s skills. Reagan used to say that having been an actor often came in handy in politics. Palin tosses off corny lines like “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” the one she ad-libbed in her debate with Joe Biden. She knows how to speed to the end of a sentence when a burst of applause is coming. She’s adept at accentuating a point–for instance, the “news flash” for the media in her convention speech. She can act. And of course she winks.”

Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard

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