More to Sarah Palin Than Meets the Eye

She walked out onto the stage in Dayton, Ohio with a smile that could light up Toledo -- and Youngstown, Canton, and Akron besides. Welcoming her to the national spotlight, a huge smile creased John McCain's face as he gave her an affectionate peck on the cheek and looked at her as a father might see a daughter on her wedding day.

There was just a little bit of the Cheshire cat in McCain's grin -- a slyness that bespoke the realization that he had just changed the dynamics of the presidential race again. And for a man who had just finished enduring four days of being pummeled as a George Bush clone, he looked remarkably upbeat.

Despite everything the Democrats could throw at him, and despite the fact that Barack Obama gave a generally well received speech watched by a quarter of the TV audience in America, McCain did the one thing he had to do to knock Obama's stemwinder of an address off the front pages: he surprised the media.

The media love to be surprised. They love telling us they're surprised. They love looking at each other on cable TV panels and telling each other they were surprised. Surprise is drama. Surprise is excitement. Surprise is the one thing the media never expected from John McCain, which -- obviously -- is why they were surprised in the first place.

Should they have been? Some on the left are calling McCain's choice a "Hail Mary Pass" -- a desperation heave following Obama's supposed game changing speech in front of 80,000 screaming partisans at Invesco Field and 39 million Americans at home the night before. But in the end, McCain had two choices: play it safe and pick a Romney or Pawlenty, or take a shot downfield and choose Palin.

Not a Hail Mary, to continue the football analogy. More like calling a pass on 4th and one -- high risk, high reward.

And partisans at Dayton's Nutter Center didn't have long to wait to see the reward part. After a slow, somewhat wooden start, Palin warmed to her task and by the time she reached the peroration of her speech, the crowd was ready to explode:

It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.So for my part, the mission is clear:

The next 67 days I'm going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of reform to every voter of every background in every political party, or no party at all.

If you want change in Washington, if you hope for a better America, then we're asking for your vote on the 4th of November.

Meanwhile, back in Obamaland, the long knives came out, all prepared to give Sarah Palin a little taste of how the Obama campaign carves up opponents - when Obama's people proceeded to stab themselves in the foot.

Barack Obama's campaign is blasting John McCain for putting "the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency."

The scathing description of Sarah Palin, from Obama spokesman Bill Burton, comes as Democrats scramble to gather a response to a selection that nobody in the political world expected.