My Sunday column:

Could this person become president? The odds remain against it. A poll last week revealed that Palin’s favourability ratings have dropped to a new low of 37%; 70% of Americans believe she is unqualified to be president, up from 60% last November. Even among conservative Republicans her ratings have slid: 45% now view her as qualified for the presidency 66% said so last autumn... Even Michael Savage, the far-right radio host banned from Britain because of his hate speech, said last week: “If you want Obama for a second term, just make sure Sarah Palin is the Republican nominee ... She is not electable as president.”

But there are two unknowns, it seems to me.

The first is: who else have the Republicans got? No one out there equals her grip on the base or her charisma. In the primaries she has a solid phalanx of devoted supporters who are exactly the kind of voters who show up come rain or shine. If the Republican establishment tries to counter her with a blander candidate, she could easily run as a Tea party candidate a George Wallace-style option and one that might well guarantee Obama a landslide.

The second unknown is the economy and the war. Both could get worse. A slide back into recession or a terror attack could give the sub-rational forces that Palin channels so well a real chance to break through. This is a country of deep and dark populist moments and she is seeking hers.

I have to say I fear her. Or, rather, I fear a country that has allowed such a person to come so close to power and to dominate its discourse quite so powerfully. It is a sign that all is not well. And the world needs an America which is more stable and more calm than the one Palin represents.

The whole thing here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.