Palin didn't have the chops - at least not in 2008 - although she was hardly the moron she was portrayed to be. She did poorly in interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric. She delivered a killer convention speech and bested Joe Biden (who has said at least three stupid things for every one from her)in their debate. She was insufficiently informed and did not have a clear economic message. She often drowned questions in evasions (as does Obama and most other politicians) but wasn't as good at making it sound like she had really said something. Whether or not she could change that for a run in 2012 or 2016 is unclear.
But quite apart from the merits of Palin, the vitriol heaped upon her was extraordinary. David Kahane, in a piece today on National Review, put it this way:
And so the word went out, from that time and place: Eviscerate Sarah Palin like one of her field-dressed moose. Turn her life upside down. Attack her politics, her background, her educational history. Attack her family. Make fun of her husband, her children. Unleash the noted gynecologist Andrew Sullivan to prove that Palin’s fifth child was really her grandchild. Hit her with everything we have: Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, taking a beer-run break from her quixotic search for Mr. Right to drip venom on Sister Sarah; post-funny comic David Letterman, to joke about her and her daughters on national television; Katie Couric, the anchor nobody watches, to give this Alaskan interloper a taste of life in the big leagues; former New York Times hack Todd “Mr. Dee Dee Myers” Purdum, to act as an instrument of Graydon Carter’s wrath at Vanity Fair. Heck, we even burned her church down. Even after the teleological triumph of The One, the assault had to continue, each blow delivered with our Lefty SneerTM (viz.: Donny Deutsch yesterday on Morning Joe), until Sarah was finished.
My point was not about Sarah Palin as much as it was about the reaction to her and what it tells us. Much the same lesson can be learned from the unreasoned hatred of Clarence Thomas and the smear job on Miguel Estrada. Let's design a different Sarah - same women, same history but a degree from Harvard and better prepared for a national run. Such a woman would threaten to be, like Obama, the much-vaunted "transitional figure" (which really means nothing more than she'd tilt the electoral calculus).
As I said, Sarah Palin was not that woman in 2008. As I said, she may never be. But the comments largely consisted of more Sarah bashing. Part of that is joy through snarkery but part of it reflects the notion that, if she's down, she must stay down.