You can make up for a lot of failings by being beautiful or nice, or both. You can sometimes get your way through intimidation and fear. But these are fine lines. People don’t like it when people play on their good looks, or are so nice that they aren’t tough enough. And you can only bully people for as long as they remain disorganized and unable to overwhelm you. Sarah Palin plans to attack Joe Biden tonight. Can she do that and be nice at the same time? It’s a big risk. People might forgive Palin’s lack of experience and worldly knowledge if they felt she was a genuinely good person with good instincts and the right priorities. If they like her, they might give her chance. Scooter Libby almost got an acquittal because the jury liked him and thought he got a raw deal.

My feeling is that Palin will pay the same price that McCain did if she chooses to be sarcastic and ungracious. If I were advising her, I’d tell her to be self-deprecating and honest about her shortcomings. She should explain her personal philosophy that would inform her decision making. Attacking Joe Biden seems like a profoundly bad idea. If she trades away her likeability, what does she have left?

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