Sarah Palin then and now

George Will’s latest column is, I think, almost spot-on in its discussion of Sarah Palin. My only quibble is with Will’s perhaps playful comparison of Palin to William Miller, Barry Goldwater’s nominee for vice president in 1964. Miller realized that Goldwater would be trounced and, according to some reports, went through the motions of campaigning, while focusing on taking reporters’ money in poker games (God’s work, to be sure). Palin, by contrast, was a warrior who galvanized conservatives and thus, unlike Miller, earned the right to be mentioned as a contender in 2012.
For me, Palin’s problem as a candidate for national office in 2008 was that she had not been sufficiently tested. Her problem as a candidate for national office in 2012 is that she has been tested and failed. She failed, that is, to complete her one term as governor of Alaska. It’s not clear why, but the failure seems to have been due to some combination of insufficient commitment to the job she had sought and inability to deal with attacks that likely pale in comparison to those she would face as president.
However, as Will suggests, Palin has passed other tests since she came, so unexpectedly, to national prominence. She’s a formidable speaker and fundraiser, for example. And her Reaganite conservative instincts thus far seem unerring.
Therefore, we are fortunate that Palin, unlike William Miller, will not return to “dignified anonymity.” Though in my view she remains unqualified for national office, Palin has now earned the prominence that John McCain conferred on her in 2008.

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