Jacob Heilbrunn

George Will and Sarah Palin

George F. Will is making waves with his comment on ABC's This Week that Sarah Palin and the Republican nominating process would be President Obama's "secret weapon" in 2012. Will sees Palin, widely viewed as the frontrunner in the Republican primaries, as unelectable. His fear is that the Republican base could put her over the top, thereby insuring Obama's reelection.

That is, by and large, the establishment view of Palin. Peggy Noonan and a host of other conservative commentators have made it clear that they violently dislike this Mama Grizzly. According to Noonan,

Conservatives talked a lot about Ronald Reagan this year, but they have to take him more to heart, because his example here is a guide. All this seemed lost last week on Sarah Palin, who called him, on Fox, "an actor." She was defending her form of political celebrity—reality show, "Dancing With the Stars," etc. This is how she did it: "Wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn't he in 'Bedtime for Bonzo,' Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor."

Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. 

She's seen as bad news for the GOP--volatile, rambunctious, nuts. The battle lines were drawn by Barbara Bush a few weeks ago when she said that Palin ought to hunker down in Alaska and not disturb her betters. Palin sniped back with words about "blue bloods" trying to fix the primary.

The truth is that Palin may well be tough to defeat. She's on to something in noting that Republicans have been able to coalesce around an anointed candidate. Sometimes it worked (George W. Bush) and then again sometimes it didn't (Bob Dole). In the age of social networking, it may be tougher to stop a populist candidate such as Palin.

The very fact that Will feels compelled to attack Palin is a sign of her enduring strength. Will may well be right. Palin has the potential to upend the GOP. It's hard to fathom her winning a presidential election. But simply becoming the GOP candidate would be a stunning victory for some who only a few years ago was a Governor of Alaska that pretty much no one had ever heard about. She remains Sen. John McCain's most important political legacy.