Peter Beinart: “Why has America turned on Sarah Palin? Obviously, her wobbly television interviews haven’t helped. Nor have the drip, drip of scandals from Alaska, which have tarnished her reformist image. But Palin’s problems run deeper, and they say something fundamental about the political age being born. Palin’s brand is culture war, and in America today culture war no longer sells.”
The larger thesis is interesting, but that bit about Palin’s brand is, I think, incorrect. It’s not culture-war crusading that made Palin the most popular governor in America. And while it’s clear that her being pro-life was a prerequisite for her getting on the ticket this year, I doubt McCain put her on it in order to fight the culture wars: He probably saw her pluses as 1) she’s a fresh female face, 2) she’s a popular governor, 3) she has a record of fighting corruption, including Republican corruption, and 4) she’s acceptable to the party base. The resulting ticket has not done much to elevate the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion.
Palin became a culture-war flashpoint, first, because of the reaction to her by liberals and the counter-reaction by conservatives and, second, because of her adoption of the traditional attack-dog (with lipstick!) role of a vice-presidential candidate.