Much of America, it seemed, even a majority of Republicans, had long moved on.Still, the decision caused a momentary sensation—a flash of excitement, as if the old Sarah, market-moving Sarah—was back. But the death of Steve Jobs quickly relegated her to a media afterthought, as she had been in recent months. There was some cosmic justice in it all. The woman who had become known for upstaging the political events of her rivals had been stomped on by the biggest of Bigfoots.By the time Palin certified that she wouldn’t be running in 2012, a poll showed that three-fourths of Republicans didn’t want her in the field. It was a shocking figure, given not only Palin’s profile, but also the persistent dissatisfaction conservatives have had with the current crop of candidates. There had always been a gap between Palin’s media-driven fame and her potential political fortunes, but by the time of her low-key announcement on a conservative radio show, it had widened into a chasm.
Undeniably, a presidential bid had always carried with it its own set of challenges. Even when her political stock was at its zenith, in late 2008, she was viewed by large swaths of Americans as unqualified for high office. And when she resigned as Alaska’s governor in the midst of her first term in 2009, those doubts intensified.
From there, there were high points—her evolving persona as a vanguard of the tea party movement, the role she played in the 2010 midterm elections, the success of her books—and low points, her retreat into social media for long stretches, best exemplified by her “blood libel” response to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, an attention-grabbing and disruptive summer bus tour that seemed to lack a purpose, and the way her life (sometimes through no fault of her own) resembled a reality TV show, on screen and off.
The cumulative effect of all seemed to damage her in the eyes of all but her most fervent admirers. Where did it all go wrong and how did it unfold? Here’s a look back at some signature moments from Palin’s recent fortunes. The rise and fall of Sarah Palin: A video timeline: