Sarah Palin's Flameout: $150,000, the Vice Presidency, Sinking Poll Numbers, and More

What does the vice president do? Who paid for the kids' travel?

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Years from now, Sarah Palin may be the perfect case study for a political shooting star.

First she was a rock star, someone happily capable of bringing life to a moribund McCain campaign—someone who could rev up the base and maybe pick off a few Hillary Clinton voters.

Then came the dark times—the Gibson interview, the Couric interview, Troopergate, the debate in which she breezily refused to actually answer the questions. The "Hockey Mom" charm wore off quickly as she grasped the vice presidential pit-bull role, bringing it to new levels of divisiveness with comments about "real America" that even she acknowledged were, ahem, unhelpful.

But the dark times are over. That brilliant flash you see? Sarah Palin flaming out. Or exploding. Or crashing and burning. It's been that kind of week for the Alaska governor.

Let's count the hits she's taken in the past 24 hours:

  • There's her $150,000 wardrobe. It's hard to run as Joan of Six Pack when your wardrobe alone almost qualifies for an Obama tax increase. (Even when you're a millionaire, anyway.)
    • Sarah Palin, constitutional scholar, resurfaced this week when she was asked about what her job would be as vice president. The veep, she said, is "in charge of" the U.S. Senate and "can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes." Umm. Shouldn't someone have explained to her by now what the vice president does? The vice breaks ties in the Senate. That's it. Being a Washington outsider is fine, but being a constitutional ignoramus is another matter entirely.
      • The AP reports today that Palin charged Alaska for her kids to travel with her, even when they weren't conducting official state business. Palin might have bilked the state? I'm shocked. (Hey—speaking of state rules, her new wardrobe qualifies as a gift, right? She'll have to declare it in her next ethics report per Alaska law, right?)
        • Then there's yesterday's Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, which showed that Palin's lack of qualifications to be president is voters' No. 1 concern regarding John McCain. She's an even bigger drag than is George W. Bush. Wow.
        • What will be Sarah Palin's next act? Does she have a future beyond darling of the base, assuming she and McCain lose? She can still salvage a level of plausibility, but the window is closing fast.