Mark Halperin issues a warning memo, in TIME:
FROM: Mark Halperin
TO: Coastal Elites, the Media and Establishment Politicians of Both Parties
RE: Sarah Heath Palin
Don’t underestimate Sarah Palin. Yes, she is hyper-polarizing: she sends her fans into rapture and drives her detractors stark raving mad. But she can dominate the news cycle with a single tweet and generate three days of coverage with a single speech (as she did this past Friday in Iowa). Her name recognition is universal.
You are right to complain that she is not offering specific policy proposals and that her inaccessibility to media outlets other than the one that pays her — Fox News — puts her beyond the kind of scrutiny and accountability we have come to expect for our leaders.
But the mistake you are making is to assume that Palin needs or wants to play by the standard rules of American politics. Or that it even occurs to her to do so. Trash her all you want (even you Republicans who are doing it all the time behind her back) for being uninformed, demagogic and incoherent, and brandish the poll numbers that show fewer and fewer Americans think she is qualified to be President. Strain to apply political and practical norms to Alaska’s former governor. You are missing the point.
Surely you’ve come to accept the reality that as a businessperson, Palin is a genius. The gusher of revenue from her speeches, books and television deals sweeps away any doubt that she can brilliantly harness her energy, charisma and popularity into a moneymaking bonanza.
But what you need to appreciate is that the same dynamics of supply and demand that Palin has cleverly exploited for financial gain also make her inimitably formidable as a political force…
[continues in in TIME]