One by one, conservative columnists such as David Frum, David Brooks, and Kathleen Parker have come out against Palin, calling her in effect not ready for prime time. Among voters, polls show that initial enthusiasm for Palin has slipped, though the overall race remains competitive.
Still, the willingness of conservative opinion leaders to state their reservations out loud is striking, and may indicate growing doubts among Republican rank and file. “I think it does reflect thinking that is maybe said quietly,” says GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who remains a fan of Palin. But all is not lost, he says. “The proof is in the pudding, and we see the pudding on Thursday night.”
Perhaps the most striking conservative defector is Ms. Parker, a syndicated columnist who was initially enthusiastic about Palin but now believes the Alaskan should bow out of the race “to save McCain, her party, and the country she loves.” Palin, she wrote last Friday, is “clearly out of her league,” a conclusion she says she came to reluctantly after watching the handful of interviews Palin has granted.
The response to Parker’s article was fierce. “I’ve gotten about 8,000 e-mails,” she told the Monitor. “They range from angry to vicious to appreciative to ‘Thank God somebody spoke up’.”