The Associated Press, as mainstream as the media gets, weighed in and won't count Palin out for 2012. The AP analysis argued that: "At a time when the distance between obscurity and celebrity is shrinking, the journey between celebrity and the White House may be growing shorter as well. That's why, no matter how unconventional she is, Palin can't be counted our as a credible 2012 competitor — even if it's difficult to see her path to the presidency."

In our newspaper, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said in his latest column that political elitists ignore the potency of Palin — as well as the Tea Party movement — at their peril. Palin spoke at the Tea Party convention in Nashville earlier this month and is now considered one of its de facto leaders.

"Political elitists don't like the former Alaska governor for the same reason they don't like the Tea Partiers: She isn't one of them. They live in a world populated by people like themselves and are deathly afraid when others threaten or seem to want to become a part of that world. Palin's appearance in Nashville simply adds to their angst," wrote Keene. "A future including Palin and the Tea Partiers is just too horrible for most political elitists to comtemplate, but like it or not, it's a future they will have to learn to accept."

But another influential conservative who just joined Keene this week in signing the "Mount Vernon Statement,” subtitled "Constitutional Conservatism: A statement for the 21st Century," chose to go on the record brushing off a Palin candidacy — long considered a no-no in conservative circles. Grover Norquist, of National Taxpayers Union, dismissed Palin for 2012 in an interview with Newsweek in which he said, "Is Palin running for president? The answer is no. She could have spoken to 10,000 people, but instead chose to speak to 600 and get paid $100,000. That's being a spokesperson and making a living, not running for president."

Most notable of all was the column George Will penned this week, which in my edition of The Washington Post was titled "The New Goldwater?" In it, Will posits that Palin is not going to be president and won't be the Republican nominee "unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states." Will notes, with polling data, that the more attention Palin receives, the fewer Americans consider her qualified for the job. He even goes on to say that Palin shows "grit is no substitute for seasoning."

More interesting than his Palin conclusion is Will's dismissal of the Tea Party movement, in so many words. The energy that now opposes President Obama is populism, which Will calls " a celebration of intellectual ordinariness." Will argues that populism "is not a stance that will strengthen the Republican Party, which recently has become ruinously weak among highly educated whites." He notes that populism hasn't won a national election in 178 years, since the reelection of Andrew Jackson in 1832.

Will is clearly in disagreement with Keene, who believes that the Tea Party is here to stay. He writes that populism's "constant ingredient is resentment, and hence whininess. Populism does not wax in tranquil times; it is a cathartic response to serious problems. But it always wanes because it never seems serious as a solution."

Even in a quiet week, when she was staying away, Palin sparked another debate. And during a triumphant and unified week for conservatives, they remain divided over Palin.

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