The Fall of Sarah Palin

Remember just a few months ago when everyone in the Republican Party was terrified of Sarah Palin? And Democrats spent time debating whether they'd prefer her to get the 2012 GOP nomination, so she could lose spectacularly, or whether even a remote possibility of her becoming president was too horrifying to contemplate? Funny how quickly things change:

Palin's flamboyant rhetoric always has thrilled supporters but lately it is coming at a new cost: A backlash, not from liberals, but from some of the country's most influential conservative commentators and intellectuals.

Palin's politics of grievance and group identity, according to these critics, is a betrayal of conservative principles. For decades, it was a standard line of the right that liberals cynically promoted victimhood to achieve their goals, and that they practiced the politics of identity—race, sex and class—over ideas.

Among those taking aim at Palin in recent interviews with POLITICO are George F. Will, the elder statesman of conservative columnists; Peter Wehner, a top strategist in George W. Bush's White House, and Heather Mac Donald, a leading voice with the right-leaning Manhattan Institute.

Matt Labash, a longtime writer for the Weekly Standard, said that because of Palin's frequent appeals to victimhood and group grievance, "She's becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition."

We've also learned that before her disastrous "blood libel" video in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, Palin asked Roger Ailes what she should do, and he sensibly told her to keep her mouth shut. But of course she didn't, 'cause that's just how she rolls.

I think we can safely declare the era of the potential Sarah Palin presidency officially over. Not that she'll disappear, but she has become a factional leader within the Republican Party, nothing more. She'll be something like what Jerry Falwell was in earlier years: a figure whom Republican politicians find it necessary to woo during primary season but whom they'll want to get far away from during the general election. Someone who can get attention, but not someone anyone outside her faction thinks should be running things. An important person, yes, but not someone anyone thinks is going to be president.