Liberals have come to really, really, really, hate David Broder, and so they're all upset that he spent today's column saying that Sarah Palin should be taken seriously as a future presidential candidate. Palin, Broder thinks, does "outsider populist" well, and in Broder's view that's one of the potentially successful messages presidential candidates have used.
Against that, Matt Yglesias cites Palin's terrible poll numbers, and Steve Benen responds to Broder's claim that "the lady is good" by asking: "good at what?" Greg Sargent gets his shots in too.
I think the fuss here is about Broder, not Palin. Yes, her polling numbers stink, and that's worth noting when considering her chances for 2012. On the other hand, it's very early. We don't know who the candidates will be by fall of 2011, or the issues, or even what Palin's issues will be by then. There's more than enough time for her to "write" a book full of wonkish policy stuff on any issue she wants, or for her to give a series of serious substantive speeches on any subject or subjects (for those who don't think she could do such things, I'll remind you that such things can be purchased by anyone with the cash to do so). Republicans now disposed to like her but to believe she lacks the substance to be president could be convinced by such maneuvers.
I can answer Steve Benen's question, however. What's Palin good at? One thing: resentment. And if there's one thing we know about Republican presidential nominations, it's that resentment sells...the only real exception that I can think of would be George H.W. Bush's defeat of Bob Dole in 1988 (and perhaps Reagan's defeat of Dole in 1980, but Reagan was better at resentment than Howard Baker, Bush, Anderson, or Connolly). Sarah Palin appears, to my eyes at least, to be the best at translating personal pique into national political resentment since Richard Nixon, the all-time master of it. I have no idea whether she will wind up even running. I agree with those who can't quite see her trudging around Iowa and New Hampshire for months, and it's hard to see how she can run for president without at some point becoming a lot more competent at some of the basics of talking about public policy issues than she's bothered to do to this point. The polling, as I said, is also relevant and not a positive. But resentment is an asset. I think those who think she has no chance are kidding themselves; of course she has a chance to win the Republican nomination. David Broder is only stating the obvious when he says she has has a real chance, and she's good at what she's good at.