Jim Geraghty [theorizes] why it is that the left despises [Palin] so. He’s certainly got part of the answer — happy, successful pro-life conservative women are a grievous offense to leftist feminism — but I think he misses the element of sheer contempt they have for her intellect. To the left, I think, she embodies a sort of comfort with ignorance that they think characterizes most/all conservatives. Why they’ve come to see her that way is complicated (part of it’s probably educational pedigree, part of it’s her affinity for rural pastimes like hunting, part of it’s the Katie Couric interview and the canned answers she gave at the debate with Biden), but I think it’s a mistake to assume that their antipathy is rooted in nothing but fear and defensiveness. That’s not true of the right vis-a-vis The One, after all. Is it?Emphasis mine. And I 100 percent agree with the bolded statement. It's much simpler than other versions of this theory, relying less on creepy psychosexual dynamics, and ultimately I think more prescient. And the nice thing about it is that it sort of cuts both ways. If liberals are right that Palin really is ignorant, and moreover, completely comfortable with that ignorance, and moreover still, thought she ought to be Vice President of the United States, they have perhaps ample reason to dislike her. On the other hand, if they dismiss Palin because she looks pretty or talks funny or doesn't read the same newspapers they do, that goes to their being snobs.
But I think there is an even simpler version of this argument: George W. Bush.
Palin is the most Bushlike of all the Republicans who have emerged as contenders for the national ticket: the smirkiness, the smugness, the regional accent (although Palin's, I assume, is not feigned), the malapropisms, the contempt for media (both the people who cover it and their mediums), the express deference to religious faith, the occasionally undeniably likable moments of joviality and regular guy/gal-ness, the tendency toward self-dealing, the bulldog/barracuda mentality, the comfort in one's own skin (Palin was crippled when she lost hers late in the campaign), the (apparent) preference for isolation in [Wasilla, Crawford], and last but not least, the no-holds-barred, no-apologies conservatism.
And sure, some of this is complicated by the fact that Palin is a woman, and a very attractive woman. Would Palin be resented to the same degree by (some) liberals if she looked like Susan Boyle? Well ... maybe not. But would she have been picked for the national ticket? Well ... maybe not. But this has less to do with Palin herself and more to do with the manner in which she was elevated to the national stage. Liberals believe very deeply in the idea that life ought to be meritocratic. Palin didn't seem to have earned it, especially in comparison to John McCain and Barack Obama and even Joe Biden who had such compelling life stories. To a lot of people (not exclusively liberals; Kay Bailey Hutchison's contempt for Palin was obvious), it felt like another case of the pretty girl getting the promotion. If Palin wins the nomination on her own in 2012, this case will fade, and in turn so should some of the resentment.