No I haven't gone soft. It's just very hard to remain serious in the face of this farce of a politician/celebrity. Here's her analysis of the president's and Bob Gates' marginal recalibration of US nuclear policy:

"It's unbelievable. Unbelievable. No administration in America's history would, I think, ever have considered such a step that we just found out President Obama is supporting today. It's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.'

Seriously. We're supposed to take this seriously? Then we get this far-right conspiracy theory:

"Steps towards insolvency. Steps towards socialism with some of their programs."

The insolvency reference is clearly designed to echo the far right theory that for some reason Obama wants to bankrupt the US in order to take over the entire economy and run it like the Soviet Union's. Obama was trapped into responding. But there is no response to this kind of, well, playground taunts. Which, of course, is why they're effective.

And so you return to the Palin conundrum. The sheer crudeness of her rhetoric, the vast ignorance it champions, and the charisma of a beautiful white woman rallying heartland male voters against commie evil is a combination it's simply impossible to grapple with effectively.

She can plagiarize Slate writers in a stream of consciousness at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Convention, and chirpily host a clip show, and headline Tea Party events with writing on her hand ... and somehow remain a credible figure, getting world-weary, post-everything encomiums from the likes of David Carr. And the sane WTF response - how does one do otherwise? - simply feeds the Palin media machine.

That's why I remain so concerned about her and what her future candidacy for president could do to this country and the world.

That's why she really is to be feared.