There is also nothing in Reagan’s biography that compares to Palin’s resignation of the Alaska governorship, a move that I for one supported, but which I believe must tend to heighten insecurity about her among many voters. I further have to wonder whether it’s a factor that will loom larger under the very conditions – a failed Obama presidency – that would make a successful run by Palin as early as 2012 thinkable. Even assuming that Palin can politically overcome questions raised by her resignation, or under an outsider’s banner even turn it into a net positive (conceivable, not necessarily likely), it may further reinforce an even more important question: What are the chances that a Palin presidency would be successful? If she couldn’t gain sufficient support from the Alaskan legislature to revise the flawed ethics reforms that she had originally sponsored, but were being used to destroy her governorship and inhibit her rise to national prominence, what would her chances be with the US Congress and the national political and media establishment?

It’s a contingency worth anticipating for anyone considering an outsider run for the presidency, for Palin’s relative political isolation, made evident in her ethics law problems, is a familiar end state for outsider executives, at all levels of government and in other realms of life, too. It’s one of the oldest political, social, and religious stories. There’s a rightwing populist notion that the political equivalent of a neutron bomb, neutralizing the inhabitants but leaving the physical structures intact, would be better than liberal government, but a president with few political allies might very likely be overwhelmed by the permanent government whose customary practices and perquisites are deeply entrenched and well-defended.