Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.
This ideal has had a tough 10 months. It’s been tarnished by Palin herself, obviously. With her missteps, scandals, dreadful interviews and self-pitying monologues, she’s botched an essential democratic role — the ordinary citizen who takes on the elites, the up-by-your-bootstraps role embodied by politicians from Andrew Jackson down to Harry Truman. But it’s also been tarnished by the elites themselves, in the way that the media and political establishments have treated her. ...
Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.
It seems to me, an ordinary Canadian citizen observing the US political scene for a few decades now, that Palin exploited and did not honour that which Douthat claims was a true and essential democratic opportunity. Perhaps anyone in her position would have succumbed to the temptations on offer. Her mis/fortune is that she's not anyone or even 'everywoman', she's Sarah Palin.