I have sympathy with Palin as a woman and a mother. She wanted her life back. I get that. But I don’t think that walking away from the governor’s office is compatible with attaining the presidency, and her excuse, that she was sparing the state of Alaska the expense of a lame-duck governorship, was laughable. The detail that jumped out at me from a front-page piece in The New York Times was how Palin’s hair was thinning at such an alarming rate due to stress that her beautician staged an intervention. The governor was clearly having trouble coping and instead of backing away and deflecting the criticism, she engaged with every attack, however petty.

Much of the criticism leveled against Palin is justified. She has the makings of a dangerous political figure, a populist in the tradition of Pat Buchanan, whipping up resentment among “real Americans,” the term she used in the campaign and which applies mostly to white, rural pockets of the country. Now that Buchanan has mellowed into the role of television pundit, we forget that he prosecuted the culture wars of the 1990s with his opposition to affirmative action, immigration, gay rights, and abortion, and that he won the New Hampshire primary in 1996, vowing, “The peasants are coming with pitchforks.”…

Palin may not care much for governing, but she’s competitive. Running with the Secret Service, she tried hard not to hyperventilate or show too much pain. Once, coming down a hill, she fell, tearing up her hands. She refused to get her wound stitched and refers with evident pride to the scar on her right palm as her war wound. It’s tempting to dismiss Palin as a quitter, but anybody who has put in the miles she has in Alaska’s arctic weather knows something about endurance. How she applies it is another matter.