Greg Sargent makes an important point about tonight’s debate:

We keep hearing that Sarah Palin’s public implosions on CBS and elsewhere have lowered “expectations” for her, to the point where all she needs to do in order to get solid grades is avoid vomiting on the podium or collapsing on the stage in a fit of hysterical laughter.

But is this really true? Will the public really rate her against past interview performances, or will they rate her against what they expect in a Vice President?

It may be that Palin’s catastrophic public performances have actually raised the bar for her, in the sense that this is her last chance to turn around the perception of her as hopelessly incompetent — way too incompetent to be the second in command behind a 72-year-old commander in chief.

Just look at the numbers. The recent Pew poll finds that a majority of 51% say she’s unqualified to become president, while 63% say Joe Biden is qualified. And the recent Washington Post poll finds that only 35% say Palin has what it takes to serve effectively as president, while twice as many (70%) say that about Biden.

She needs to reverse those perceptions.

[Emphasis added]

Most people have probably at least heard about Sarah Palin’s disastrous interviews, and I bet a lot of people have seen bits and pieces of it here or there.

But there’s a good chance this will be the first time most voters see Sarah Palin in a challenging, non-scripted venue, where she has to answer questions and hold her own against an experienced Senate veteran.

Personally, I don’t think it matters if Palin does better tonight than in her recent interviews–if she doesn’t inspire confidence that she could serve as the next President of the United States, she’ll keep bleeding support right through election day.

The American people want to see a Vice President, not a slightly more competent version of the hopelessly inexperienced candidate Sarah Palin has become. Tonight is the last chance Palin has to redeem herself–if she fails, she’ll spend the rest of the election as a weighty albatross around John McCain’s neck.