So, if the McCain-Palin ticket goes down to ignominous defeat, with concerns about Palin's qualifications turning up prominently in the exit polls, she will retreat back to Alaska and serve out her term as governor in well-earned obscurity, right? Wrong.
As Sarah Posner explains in this week's FundamentaList, the Christian Right has embraced Palin as its political future:
Charles Dunn, dean of the Robertson (as in Pat) School of Government at Regent University in Virginia Beach, tells the American Family Association's news service that Sarah Palin is the "heir apparent" to lead the conservative movement and the Republican Party, even if Barack Obama wins the White House. Dunn predicts we'll be saying goodnight to Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in 2012.
Catapulting the Barracuda to a leadership role is also the goal of the fawning campaign biography of Palin, Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader, just out from Zondervan, a Christian imprint owned by Rupert Murdoch. While other tentacles in Murdoch's media empire play the endless loop of smears and insinuations that Obama is subversive and un-American, the new Palin biography paints a vapid, unquestioning portrait of a salt-of-the-earth American gal whose supposed authenticity makes her the real embodiment of the change we've been waiting for.
The animating theme of the book is that Palin's political values and judgment are best understood through her personal life rather than her political resumé, and can best be summed up by Trig, Track, Bristol. Not drill, baby, drill, but baby, war, baby.
The enduring passion of the Christian Right for St. Joan of the Tundra, even as the initial excitement over her elsewhere has faded, is another sign that these folks are increasingly going back to their habitual position of inhabiting a parallel universe that only occasionally intersects with mainstream Republican politics. But I somehow don't think they realize that just yet.