Question: To my surprise, the liberal media was strikingly effective at pasting Palin as dumb, or at least uninformed. (For conservatives, nothing new there.) But, outside of the small committed conservative base, can Palin, or any politician, recover from such a first impression? In other words, can an inkblot change its spots?
See also Yuval Levin's The Meaning of Sarah Palin in Commentary:
[H]er views on matters of cultural and social controversy very quickly became the chief focus of media attention, liberal criticism, and pundit analysis. Palin was assigned every view and position the Left considered unenlightened, and the response to her brought into the light all manner of implicit liberal assumptions about cultural conservatives. We were told that Palin was opposed to contraception, advocated teaching creationism in schools, and was inclined to ban books she disagreed with. She was described as a religious zealot, an anti-abortion extremist, a blind champion of abstinence-only sex education. She was said to have sought to make rape victims pay for their own medical exams, to have Alaska secede from the Union, and to get Pat Buchanan elected President. She was reported to believe that the Iraq war was mandated by God, that the end-times prophesied in the Book of Revelation were nearing and only Alaska would survive, and that global warming was purely a myth. None of this was true.
Her personal life came under withering assault as well. Palin’s capacity to function as a senior elected official while raising five children was repeatedly questioned by liberal pundits who would never dare to express such views about a female candidate whose opinions were more congenial to them. Her teenage daughter’s pregnancy was splattered all over the front pages (garnering three New York Times stories in a single day on September 2). Some bloggers even suggested her youngest child had not issued from her, but from her daughter instead, and that she had participated in a bizarre cover-up. I attended a gathering in Washington at which a prominent columnist wondered aloud how Palin could pursue her career when her religious beliefs denied women the right to work outside the home.
Palin became the embodiment of every dark fantasy the Left had ever held about the views of evangelical Christians and women who do not associate themselves with contemporary feminism, and all concern for clarity and truthfulness was left at the door.