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In yesterday’s Washington Times, right-wing man Frank Gaffney Jr. makes the case that the McCain campaign should quit protecting Sarah Palin. In a piece titled “Let Palin be Palin,” Gaffney, in quite a feat of polemics, draws a parallel between Palin and Reagan, arguing that the 40th prez was at his best when he wasn’t being handled. “Time and time again that proved to be the case as his common-man qualities, native intelligence and utter decency allowed him to connect with and secure the support of the American people,” Gaffney writes.

Gaffney’s point isn’t entirely distinct from that of William Kristol, who wrote in early September that Palin should be unleashed on the country, with all her authenticity and homespun wisdom on full display. The title of the Kristol piece? “Let Palin be Palin.” Here’s Kristol’s thinking:

There will be rocky moments. But they will fade if the McCain campaign lets Palin’s journey take its natural course over the next two months. Millions of Americans—mostly but not only women, mostly but not only Republicans and conservatives—seemed to get a sense of energy and enjoyment and pride, not just from her nomination, but especially from her smashing opening performance. Palin will be a compelling and mold-breaking example for lots of Americans who are told every day that to be even a bit conservative or Christian or old-fashioned is bad form. In this respect, Palin can become an inspirational figure and powerful symbol. The left senses this, which is why they want to discredit her quickly.

I know that pundits are out there to provoke and play devil’s advocate. But after watching Palin v. Couric, I just got to say: Letting Palin be Palin is among the worst strategies out there. No one ever mistook Sarah for the Great Communicator. The McCain people should continue to coach, manage, school, tutor, hector, nurture, and otherwise micromanage the living daylights out of this vice presidential nominee. After all, someone who says the following needs tons of supervision:

As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.