The Curious Case of Sarah Palin

Nate Silvers on Palin’s media problem:

People weren’t turned off by Palin because of the questions about her wardrobe or baby Trig. They were turned off because — fairly or not — they couldn’t become comfortable with the idea of her sitting in the White House. Giving interviews to the likes of John Ziegler or exchanging nastygrams with the Anchorage Daily News isn’t going to get her to be taken more seriously.

I think that’s largely right, but I think a lot goes unsaid in this as well. Namely, Palin’s problem wasn’t Wardrobegate, or Tina Fey, or the sight lies of her back porch, ultimately Sarah Palin’s problem was that she was totally ignorant about the national issues that defined the 2008 election. Yes her statements in interviews were largely incoherent. Does anyone else remember when the bailout was good for those people who were concerned about the healthcare reform we need for the economic recovery? Good times. But the reason she was incoherent was because she really had no clue about the background information or the relevant facts to the discussion, and so she came off sounding like any college student who’s ever tried to bullshit their way through an essay exam.

And this is where Palin’s political path gets rather difficult to navigate. On the one hand, she needs to find ways to stay visible and relevant to the political world. Going back to Alaska and handling the work of the state is probably not going to get her much ink, and the last thing she wants is to cede the visibility war to Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. But at the same time, if Palin’s bitching about the media to John Ziegler, she’s not learning about foreign policy or healthcare, or even boning up on the right-wing catechisms. And one thing the general election really obscured was how unfamiliar with conservative orthodoxy Palin was, which was sort of shocking. And while right-wing activists may have rallied around her in opposition to Barack Obama, you had better believe they’re going to care if Palin can’t name a Supreme Court decision she disagrees with in 2011.

All of which is a long way of saying that, while she’ll undoubtedly prove an amusing sideshow for quite a bit longer, the odds of Sarah Palin actually enjoying any electoral success in a respectable field of contenders are quite slim.