There were always some within the Republican party that were always uncomfortable with Palin. These folks agree to some extent with the caricature of Palin created by her opponents. Intellectuals like Noonan see Palin as unprepared, unintellectual, and bad for the party and America.
Sarah Palin's resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain—to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits, and let go of her drama. It is an opportunity they should take. They mean to rebuild a great party. They need to do it on solid ground.
Her history does not need to be rehearsed at any length. Ten months ago she was embraced with friendliness by her party. The left and the media immediately overplayed their hand, with attacks on her children. The party rallied round, as a party should. She went on the trail a sensation but demonstrated in the ensuing months that she was not ready to go national and in fact never would be. She was hungry, loved politics, had charm and energy, loved walking onto the stage, waving and doing the stump speech. All good. But she was not thoughtful. She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.
The other side mostly includes regular citizens that have fallen in love with Palin.
Supporting other conservative candidates and taking on the policies of the Obama administration. That didn't quite sound like Nixon 1962. More like Reagan 1976 perhaps. But surely she couldn't seriously be considering stepping down as a move toward stepping up? Sure, the polls suggested that her decision had, if anything, made her more popular among the party's base (and the wider electorate). But Republican consultants said she could forget about the 2012 nomination, and aren't they supposed to be the experts? If she even wants to run as a GOP candidate, that is. Because what is all this talk about supporting conservatives of any party or no party at all? Is she going rogue again? Is she planning a third party run?
And while they were still pondering these 'will she/won't she', 'Third Party/GOP' questions, out of right field came yet another bombshell, namely an op-ed in Obama's own Washington Post in which she launched a full frontal assault on his position on cap and trade - or 'cap and tax', as she called it. It's left the Democrats - and their (many) friends in the media - in a state of confusion similar to the one they were in immediately after her introduction as vicepresidential candidate on August 29th. They're throwing everything at her in a desperate attempt to find a line of attack that will work:
When you have two extremes, both are more wrong than right. Palin is NOT infallable. She bombed on two interviews and her announcement in resigning the governorship was a rambling and incomprehensible monologue. On the other hand, she is a lot more accomplished, savvy, and intelligent than any of her critics realize. Her critics also put an awful lot of stock in interviews and a speech.
Much like most political civil wars, this one has a pre determined outcome. The Republican party can't make it without its base. Its base loves Palin. Charles Krauthammer is brilliant and he makes a lot of money simply to give his opinion. That said he only gets one vote, and his opinion on this matter will not be followed by the masses. The conservative masses WILL follow Palin.
Folks like Krauthammer and Noonan want someone polished, intelligent, and with inside the beltway savvy. In fact, what they consider intelligence and savvy is their own interpretation of it. Regular voters of the conservative variety aren't bothered by her folksy style. They don't think that her term as Governor and Mayor offer little in the way of experience and accomplishment.
The main reason that she has now been mentioned for a potential third party run has everything to do with this split. The regular voters outside the beltway feel as though the so called insiders have lost touch with their beliefs. Over the last eight years, the Republican party has moved toward big government and incompetence. The voters outside the beltway wanted small fiscally conservative government. They see Palin as the individual that will lead them away from the inside the beltway attitude that caused the Republicans to lose their way. In that respect, the sort of criticism she has received after resigning from Governor has only hardened their belief that she's the one.
The folks outside the beltway view these so called conservative intellectuals as indicative of the sort of inside the beltway thinking that lead to massive government expansion and incompetent governance that occurred over the last eight years. Regular voters point out that it was these very elitists that were in charge for eight years.
One of the most appealing things about Palin is that she has always practiced what she preached. She governed as a fiscal conservative, corruption fighter. Obviously, she lived her life as a pro life individual. I don't know what the future holds for Sarah Palin. I don't even know if she wants a political future, but I do know that all her opponents, conservative intellectuals included, would be wise not to underestimate her.
She has, whether by chance or design, carved out a very powerful nitch as a conservative populist. Her message of smaller government, lower taxes, freedom and liberty can and will resonate with major portions of the populations. More beautifully from her perspective, most of the criticism continues to come strictly from those parts of the political spectrum that Palin can effectively point out have contributed to higher taxes, more government, less freedom and liberty.
There is a political civil war that Palin is in the middle of, unwittingly, but one thing I know is that in this political civil war, Sarah Palin will be a winner.