For many conservatives, the thrill is gone when it comes to one-time favorite Sarah Palin, who delivered a speech at last weekend's Iowa Freedom Summit that left many wondering what happened to the rising star they had once embraced.
The complaints about the speech have been sharp, but not only among the sources who usually pan the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, reports The Washington Post
And even though Palin commented when she arrived at the event that she is "seriously interested" in seeking the GOP nomination in 2016, her long speech at the summit to party loyalists was described by many as being disjointed, reports the Post, with lines such as "GOP leaders, by the way, you know, 'The Man,' can only ride ya when your back is bent. So strengthen it. Then The Man can't ride ya."
And the reviews are scathing.
Charles C.W. Cooke, of The National Review, for example, panned the speech
as the "foreordained culmination of a slow and unseemly descent into farce ... Palin should leave the field to those who are in possession of genuine political aspirations, and she should refrain from treating the Republican party as if it were a little more than a convenient vehicle for her private ambition."
His comments were far different from the glowing review that Review editor Rich Lowry gave her in 2008 after her stirring debut at the Republican National Convention, when he called her speech "so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing."
Further, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, who has backed Palin since 2007, when she was the governor in Alaska, commented that — although he'd said less than a year ago that Palin could be "formidable" in a Republican primary — she is no longer a player.
"The name Sarah Palin hasn't come up in the past three to six months," he said in an interview Wednesday, reports the Post. "Maybe the speech Saturday was just a confirmation of her no longer being a major player, at least in these circles."
And while Palin is still a draw for some conservatives, Byron York of The Washington Examiner
said there is concern that Republicans are treating her with more importance than she may still merit.
"Conservatives still empathize with her over the beating she took from the media in 2008," York said. "But if there is indeed nothing behind her 'seriously interested' talk — and it appears there is not — should she be included in events leading up to the 2016 caucuses?"
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote after the speech that Republicans were to blame for Palin's decline.
"In the end, the story of Palin's rise and fall is a tragedy," she wrote
. "And the author wasn't the media as accused but the Grand Old Party itself. Like worshipers of false gods throughout human history, Republicans handpicked the fair maiden Sarah and placed her on the altar of political expedience."
Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity on Tuesday asked Palin, a guest on his show, the reasons for the speech, including whether her teleprompter went down or if she had difficulty because "people had been so critical."
Palin, though, blamed the criticism on the media's "herd mentality," and said her "seriously interested" comment was to a "pesty reporter" while she was busy "promoting my Sportsman Channel show."
However, she told Hannity she is interested in running.
Palin had a choice after the 2008 campaign, said Kristol, to "sober up and prove the buggers wrong," but she didn't do that. "The rest of us should choose to move on."
But there is one Republican who says Palin would make a good presidential candidate in 2016: her former running mate, Sen. John McCain.
"She's very interesting. And I'm sure she'd do great," the Arizona Republican told the Post
Although Palin clashed with McCain's campaign team during the 2008 race, they have remained close. McCain praises her consistently, and she backed his 2010 re-election bid.
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