The return of the “what about Biden?” trope was a good clue that Palin was not really Over, as was the Washington Post’s reliance on Charles C. Cooke in the story about Palin losing “one-time fans on the right.” Cooke, a writer for National Review, definitely presented a contrast with the magazine’s old Palinphilia. She had collapsed into an “ignominious pasquinade,” he wrote.
Yet Cooke didn’t actually write any of NR’s 2008 praise of Palin. “I was never a supporter,” Cooke wrote in an e-mail. “I’ve always disliked her—right from the start (her acceptance speech aside). I’ve occasionally defended her when I thought the charges were unfair…but more criticism than defense, on balance.”
Did Palin lose some fans and defenders with her Iowa speech? Yes. Did she end her relevance in the GOP? Not at all. As Palin spoke, Public Policy Polling tweeted to remind people that she had higher favorable ratings among Iowa Republicans than any possible 2016 candidate save Mike Huckabee. Would any Republican candidate turn down a Palin endorsement? Hard to imagine, and when Palin’s at home in Alaska, she’s governed by an independent whom she endorsed over her former lieutenant governor. Here’s a fun one: Would any TV channel turn down a Palin interview? If not, how “over” can she be?
The question isn’t really whether a post-Iowa Freedom Summit Palin is a credible presidential candidate. She isn’t. The question’s whether she remains influential with conservative activists, and useful for conservatives in culture war fights. She is.