David Frum

07.31.12

Palin's Star Gets Dimmer

Former Vice President Dick Cheney recently said something that was obvious to many Americans: that selecting Sarah Palin to be the Vice Presidential nominee was a mistake. As John Avlon writes in The Daily Beast, it wasn't always so popular to state the obvious problems with Palin:

The polarization has faded in favor of a general understanding that for all her talents, Palin was not ready for presidential prime time.

This new consensus is a vindication for her critics, especially Republican skeptics like Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, who described Palin as an “attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.” In the hothouse atmosphere of 2008, Parker’s statement earned her some 20,000 emails, many of this vintage: “You’re not one of us, you’re one of THEM, the liberal lovers, the flag-burners, country haters, the ones who want to kill god and put Stalin in his place and see this nation destroyed by a sea of brown people and gays.”

Now even such inspired bile seems like a museum piece. Absent the chance that she could be a heartbeat away from the presidency (or a candidate herself), Palin no longer stirs the kind of passion that sold magazines and divided families. The fascination has faded. Instead, there is an aura of embarrassment bordering on amnesia, even from some one-time supporters. This dynamic will ultimately affect Michele Bachmann fans as well.

Palin still wields influence within the party, her endorsements seem to affect some election outcomes and she is not yet regarded by everyone as a complete embarrassment (she was the keynote speaker at the most recent CPAC) but on the whole, even her die-hard fans concede that she should not be given actual power.