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Sarah Palin and Princess Diana

September 12, 2008 | 10:34 am

From the first, the crowd reaction to the McCain-Palin duo reminded me of Charles and Diana.

Even though Charles was the one who was descended from William the Conqueror and all the rest, even though he was the future king regnant, she was the one who drew the crowds -- a fresh new figure on the royal scene, young, pretty and personable.

When the royal couple arrived for a ''walkabout'' in some town and split up the street -- Charles heading to one side, Diana to the other -- people on Charles' side of the street would groan audibly: they had wanted HER and got stuck with HIM. A quarter-century on, Sarah Palin is drawing larger crowds than John McCain ever did alone.

And now, with Palin's interview with Charles Gibson, the resemblance is even more striking.

First, Diana. From her days in boarding school, Diana had wanted to be, she told a classmate, ``a dancer -- or Princess of Wales.'' During the courtship, even some of those closest to her worried that she was in love with the title, not the man, or at the least was confusing the two.

Now, Palin. She told Gibson that she didn't hesitate when McCain popped the political question. ``I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink. So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate."

Flashback to Diana and Charles, describing their popping-the-question-moment to Time magazine: Charles proposed before Diana went off to Australia, in order to give her ''a chance to think about it -- to think if it was going to be too awful. If she didn't like the idea, she could say she didn't.'' But Diana interrupted ``Yes, quite promptly. I never had any doubts about it.''

We all know how that pairing turned out.

Diana's youth and inexperience, everyone believed, made her perfect for the job -- she could be molded to grow into it. The more Diana revealed about her personal problems -- the bulimia, the shopping mania, even the affairs -- the more, paradoxically, her admirers fervently proclaimed their love. Palin, a quarter-century older than Diana was when she said ''yes'' to Charles, likewise has admirers who proclaim that her very inexperience makes her perfect for the vice presidency, who say that her personal and family troubles make them love her all the more.

The old saying goes, ``Marry in haste, repent at leisure.'' Will the new saying go, ''Vote in haste, repent at leisure''?

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