THE RETURN OF THE SWOON…. There’s been a noticeable trajectory of Republican emotion over the last five weeks when it comes to Sarah Palin. After the introduction, the right swooned.

Then she started talking. After the Charlie Gibson interview, conservatives were concerned. After the Couric interviews, Republicans started to panic.

In the wake of Palin’s odd and disjointed performance in last night’s debate, I guess they’re back to swooning again. Take this embarrassing item from the National Review’s Rich Lowry:

I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.

Good God, man, show some pride. You’re a media professional, for crying out loud. You sat up when Palin winked at the camera? You saw “little starbursts”? And you published this?

I realize political analysis on the right has been in decline, but I didn’t appreciate the extent to which it mirrored school-boys with crushes.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.