Ian Lazaran at Conservatives for Palin, the go-to site for anyone interested in the Palin supporter’s side, raises some serious questions about Quin Hillyer’s “The Problem with Palin” – a piece whose title somewhat defeats the author’s numerous compliments to Sarah Palin. Lazaran introduces reasonably well-evidenced arguments on Palin’s behalf – that she was a budget-cutter, that her rise to the governorship was an underdog triumph against corruption, and so on – that would serve Palin-supporters well in conventional politics, but no one much is engaging in conventional political warfare with Sarah Palin at the moment.
Lazaran is much less successful defending against Hillyer’s “quitter” attack, I think because the charge and the bare facts of the matter encapsulate and reinforce all of the discomfort that the unpersuaded feel about Palin, in a way that may be effectively beyond argument. We had a long and informative discussion at the HA headlines and elsewhere on Hillyer’s article and in particular on the resignation- what it meant, what it still means, and what it may end up meaning for Palin. Rather than recapitulate the exchanges, I’ll just maintain for now, in as neutral terms as I can come up with, that the resignation was the moment that she fully detached from “conventional,” and people who are made uncomfortable by too much unconventionality in a political figure may never learn to like it – or look past it.
On the other hand, as was largely predictable last July, “Palin, Inc.” has been served famously well by Palin’s resignation, to the tune of 8-digits, but the end of the initial growth phase is over, and a familiar diminishing returns plateau appears to have been reached. I’ll concede that Palin gone stale would still be a lot more interesting, and influential, than the vast majority of politicians on their best days, but for her star to start ascending again, rather than just settle in the firmament at approximately its current coordinates, or perhaps begin an accelerating decline, she would need to renew her message. I’m not sure she can or will, or even if she should.
Until then, I think the real Palin problem – the problem for Palin – may be that the chemical reaction that makes it happen, her particular format for the meeting of conventional and unconventional, is going flat: It’s not a perpetual motion machine, but depends on a continual supply of popular interest, and… people get bored – gradually, unevenly, at first invisibly, but inexorably.