Here’s one of my favorite quotations from the Old Man:  “Politics is battle, and the best way to fire up your troops is to rally them against a visible opponent on the other side of the field.  If a loyal supporter will fight hard for you, he will fight twice as hard against your enemies.”
Sarah Palin gets it.  During the debate, she did two important things.  First and most obviously, she showed the poise and skill that we saw in her convention speech, not the hesitation that we’ve seen in her network television interviews.  Second and less obviously, she rallied the Republican troops against Obama.  Some examples:

I  know that the other ticket opposed this surge, in fact, even opposed funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so. And Sen. Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives. And Barack Obama at first said he would not do that. He turned around under political pressure and he voted against funding the troops.

Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, the Castro brothers, others who are dangerous dictators are one that Barack Obama has said he would be willing to meet with without preconditions being met first. And an issue like that taken up by a presidential candidate goes beyond naivete and goes beyond poor judgment. A statement that he made like that is downright dangerous because leaders like Ahmadinejad who would seek to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe off the face of the earth an ally like we have in Israel should not be met with without preconditions and diplomatic efforts being undertaken first.

Now, Barack Obama had said that all we’re doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.

Sarah Palin can take a punch, and throw one, too.  Circumstances make the election very difficult for Republicans, but she gives them a reason to rally.