The End of the Con

David Frum sketches the coming decline of Sarah Palin:


Palin will never become a party elder stateswoman. Over the past three years, it became apparent to all but a handful of cultists that her only interests were money and celebrity. She had no concept of public service, and no capacity to serve even if she had wished to do so. Soon even those last cultists will quietly abandon the argument. We talk often these days about makers and takers. Sarah Palin was the ultimate taker. She abandoned her post as governor of Alaska to cash in on lectures and TV. She squeezed her supporters for political donations and spent the money on herself. To adapt an old phrase, she seen her opportunities and she took 'em. 

In the end, she exploited, abused, or embarrassed almost everyone who had believed in her. Most embarrassing of all: she was never even a very good con artist. Everything that was false and petty and unqualified in her was visible within the first minutes of encountering her. The people she fooled were people who passionately wished to be fooled. To that extent, what was important in her story was not the faults and failings of Sarah Palin. There have always been grifters in politics. What was important in her story was the revelation of conservatism's lack of antibodies against somebody with the faults and failings of Sarah Palin. That's the story that should trouble us still.

I was thinking this morning about how she'll likely have a long a career in media somewhere. Maybe so. But people don't seem to like Sarah Palin, very much -- and I don't mean "people like me." A few years ago it was pretty common to hear folks like Fred Barnes gleefully noting how much Palin annoys liberals. Now you have people like Ann Coulter saying, "no conservative on TV will criticize her because they don't want to deal with the hate mail." 

Perhaps she'll do the work to reinvent herself into a Rush Limbaugh, or some such. More likely, I think she'll hit the speaking circuit, working the marks who so "passionately want to be fooled," and then make another reality show. It will be a perfectly fine life. Meanwhile, I'm left to wonder how in the world people ever saw in Sarah Palin, who showed no willingness to work, the makings of a gifted politician. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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