"I think I have a fear in general about whether being a pundit is a worthwhile thing to be," Rachel Maddow tells me over dinner at a Latin restaurant in lower Manhattan. It's more than the ordinary self-deprecation of someone who just got her own cable commentary show. It's an insecurity essential to the on-air style that's powered the 35-year-old's rapid rise from a wacky morning radio show in western Massachusetts to the liberal radio network Air America and now to her own prime-time show on MSNBC.
Reading all the reactions to Sarah Palin's speech, two things stand out for me. First, the McCain campaign seems to have decided that the way to salvage Palin as a VP pick is to turn her into a pure base-energizing attack dog. By having her give a speech so thoroughly devoted to vicious attacks on Obama, the campaign has tacitly admitted its attempt to woo Clinton voters with Palin has failed (the references to Clinton and eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling that were prominent in her speech last Friday were totally absent last night).