Reason Contributing Editor Julian Sanchez with some interesting observations that help explain Sarah Palin's strange career:
if you ask a strong political partisan—conservatives in particular, in my experience—which political figures they like or admire, and why, they'll enthusiastically cite the ability to "drive the other side crazy." Judging by online commentary, this seems to be an enormous part of Sarah Palin's appeal. Palin herself certainty seems to understand this. Her favorite schtick, the well to which she returns again and again, is: "Look how all the mean liberals are attacking me!"…. Perversely, liberals end up playing a significant role in anointing conservative leaders.
This is, I think, a bipartisan phenomenon everyone at least subconsciously recognizes: A political figure—though more often a pundit than an actual candidate or elected official—gains prominence largely as a function of being attacked or loathed with special vehemence by the other side.
Sanchez calls this the "Voldemort Effect," after the ways in which the Harry Potter book villain essentially chose Harry as his arch-enemy. Now, if only all standard right and left wingers would all ignore each other and all go away.