THE INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION…. I frequently get emails from readers warning me not to underestimate Sarah Palin. She has a rabid fan base, I’m reminded, who care little for reason, and are outwardly hostile towards reality. The right-wing enthusiasm surrounding Palin, the argument goes, is cause for genuine concern.

Perhaps. Time will tell whether the popularity of idiocy can endure and grow, but in the meantime, I think grown-ups should at least be able to agree that the half-term governor has the intelligence of a wilted salad.

O’REILLY: Do you believe that you are smart enough, incisive enough, intellectual enough to handle the most powerful job in the world?

PALIN: I believe that I am because I have common sense and I have — I believe the values that are reflective of so many other American values. And I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the kind of a spineless — a spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite Ivy League education and a fat resume that’s based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles. Americans are — could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership. I’m not saying that that has to be me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the one national political figure that can make George W. Bush look like Socrates.

Palin thinks she’s qualified to lead, not in spite of her inexperience and ignorance, but because of her inexperience and ignorance. I can see the bumper stickers now: “Vote Palin ’12: She Won’t Bother You With A Bunch Of Highfalutin Thought And Seriousness.”

To be sure, it’s not easy to spin two years as a scandal-plagued governor of a state with a small population and socialized oil revenue into a right-wing platform for national office. I get that. But the way to overcome a background like this is to demonstrate extraordinary judgment, clarity of thought, maturity, and a capacity for innovative policy solutions.

“I believe the values that are reflective of so many other American values” doesn’t quite cut it.

Or, who knows, maybe it does. I tend to value book learnin’ and credible ideas, which no doubt puts me in the “elitism” camp.

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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.