Sarah Palin's Myth of America

Viewpoint: The GOP candidate appeals to nostalgia for a country that no longer exists. It might be a winning strategy

Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

Republican U.S. vice-presidential nominee and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin attends a rally in Lancaster, PA, September 9, 2008.

Sarah Palin has arrived in our midst with the force of a rocket-propelled grenade. She has boosted John McCain's candidacy and overwhelmed the presidential process in a way that no vice-presidential pick has since Thomas Eagleton did the precise opposite — sinking his sponsor, George McGovern, in 1972. Obviously, something beyond politics is happening here. We don't really know Palin as a politician yet, whether she is wise or foolhardy, substantive or empty. Our fascination with her — and it is a nonpartisan phenomenon — is driven by something more primal. The Palin surge illuminates the mythic...

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