The New Yorker is usually a wee bit too Uptown New York for my taste, culturally speaking, but I was interested today by Jane Mayer's piece on the back-story of the rise of Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket. Mayer proposes that Palin had plenty ambition from the get-go of her political career and never shrank from thinking big, to the point that once she had engineered local meets with a string of conservative pundits who liked the click of her heels and the cut of her jib, she encouraged them and accepted and capitalised on the momentum they offered her, not least the smitten William Kristol.
So much for the rise. Mayer inevitably also predicts the fall:
"The selection of Palin thrilled the Republican base, and the pundits who met with her in Juneau have remained unflagging in their support. But a surprising number of conservative thinkers have declared her unfit for the Vice-Presidency. Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist, recently wrote, “The Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It’s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain.” David Brooks, the Times columnist, has called Palin “a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.” Christopher Buckley, the son of National Review’s late founder, defected to the Obama camp two weeks ago, in part because of his dismay over Palin. Matthew Dowd, the former Bush campaign strategist turned critic of the President, said recently that McCain “knows in his gut” that Palin isn’t qualified for the job, “and when this race is over, that is something he will have to live with... He put the country at risk.”"
This is the kind of early obituary note one has seen quite a bit of this week, but as long as Obama's key-state poll leads skulk around in the margin of error I would say the retrospective tone is premature.