“Some conservatives who are gluttons for punishment are getting a head start on ensuring a 2012 drubbing by prescribing peculiar medication for a misdiagnosed illness. They are monomaniacal about media bias, which is real but rarely decisive, and unhinged by their anger about the loathing of Sarah Palin by similarly deranged liberals. These conservatives, confusing pugnacity with a political philosophy, are hot to anoint Palin, an emblem of rural and small-town sensibilities, as the party’s presumptive 2012 nominee.

These conservatives preen as especially respectful of regular — or as Palin says, ‘real’ — Americans, whose tribune Palin purports to be. But note the argument that the manipulation of Americans by ‘the mainstream media’ explains the fact that the more Palin campaigned, the less Americans thought of her qualifications. This argument portrays Americans as a bovine herd — or as inert clay in the hands of wily media, which only Palin’s conservative celebrators can decipher and resist.

These conservatives, smitten by a vice presidential choice based on chromosomes, seem eager to compete on the Democrats’ terrain of identity politics, entering the ‘diversity’ sweepstakes they have hitherto rightly deplored. We have seen this movie before. Immediately after the 1972 election, some conservatives laid down the law — the 1976 Republican nominee must be Vice President Spiro Agnew.”

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“Harris … said that the party is now divided into two wings: the ‘hell, no’ wing and a ‘yes, but’ wing. ‘The ‘hell, no’ is going to fight [Obama] every step of the way’ on ideological grounds.

‘The other will say, ‘Yes, we agree with a lot of his objectives; we want to do it in a somewhat different way.’ It really, I think, goes right to a tactical and philosophical fault line in the Republican Party.’

[David] Brooks was not convinced that Sarah Palin could be taken seriously as the GOP’s next Ronald Reagan.

‘Well, the ‘hell, no’ group is rallying around her,’ he said. ‘And this past week, I don’t think, has been particularly flattering to her, the McCain people – and the whole thing has been a complete disaster. They’ve attacked her for her lack of human capital and for being a diva.

‘I’m not sure it’s all fair, but one would not say she has spent her life preparing for an intellectual revolution to lead the party out of the wilderness. Let’s put it that way.'”