Pete, about your point, the inimitable Jennifer Rubin has a theory about what kind of conservatives are more likely to attack Palin. She calls it Players vs. Kibbitzers. Players are political ops, office holders, commentators and radio/tv hosts who have an audience that determines their income, who see their jobs as rallying the troops, persuading people and defending them. They care about outcomes. That type can’t afford to smack readers/listeners or assert that they have come to a judgement superior to that listeners — unless they are so persuasive that they can get away with it.
The kibbitzers, on the other hand, are people with columns or who write books, who feel that their personal search for truth, a clever new analysis – or popularity — is the point of the exercise. “They write books, tell us what is wrong with conservatism, and scold the poor slobs who run campaigns. They lack any visceral sense of actual conservative voters.” They are attached to no grass roots, and their goal is to appear smart, or thoughtful in their moments on, say, Charlie Rose. Rubin goes on to say, “”Now, some of the Kibitzers, truth be told, don’t care much about ideas: it is sentiment and word pictures that catch their attention. They’d rather toss around elegant phrases unmoored to any reasoned argument — slip the surly bonds of analysis, as it were — than mix it up in the hurly-burly of real electoral politics. And Palin’s not very poetic, after all.”