Sarah Palin had a few things to say in a CNN interview this week. She called the science of climate change "bogus." She said President Obama should carry "a big stick instead of a selfie stick." She demanded that immigrants "speak American." When asked if presidential candidates should know who world leaders are, she said she'd "rather have a president who is tough and puts American first than can win a game of Trivial Pursuit."
Palin also had many disconnected, nonsensical non-sequiturs to offer at Donald Trump and Ted Cruz's bizarre joint rally against the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, including references to Obama's "unicorn," "fairy dust" and "pretty pink kaleidoscope" and to Black Lives Matter protesters, whom she referred to as the president's "dogs."
Now, even Glenn Beck -- yes, Glenn Beck -- is saying that he is "embarrassed" that he once supported Palin, saying that the former GOP vice presidential nominee has "become a clown."
Let that sink in for a second. Glenn Beck, who once described himself as a "rodeo clown," is calling Palin a "clown." Beck, who frequently, tearfully warns that God is about to destroy America, is calling Palin an embarrassment to the conservative movement.
But the Republican Party can't quit Palin, and that is an important sign. She still draws crowds and enthralls conservative audiences. The Sarah Palin phenomenon wasn't just an embarrassing mistake or a moment in time. She was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became a GOP star: unpolished, offensive and proud of it, populist with little actual interest in helping people.
In 2008, Palin became the embodiment of a party that was self-destructing from within, appealing to the party's shrinking base -- a group that we would later call the Tea Party -- while terrifying everyone else. After the 2012 election, when the Tea Party had managed to turn off even more voters, the Republican Party attempted to "rebrand" itself as kinder, gentler and more welcoming. Remember that? The establishment took many steps to make sure this level of craziness would not happen again. But the Palin Republicans had made themselves heard, and they were going nowhere -- and now Republican candidates are tripping over themselves to appeal to them. They are racing to fan the flames of all the hot button issues that the establishment wanted to shove back into the closet.
Sarah Palin is no longer a candidate, but her influence lives on. Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner and Ted Cruz is eager to take his place if he falters. Both knew that if they wanted someone to rile up a crowd, Palin was their woman.
In very few groups is Glenn Beck one of the least embarrassing people.
The Republican establishment may want to forget about Palin. But Trump's success shows that they can't and they won't. This is the party they made. This is the party they get.