Speaking of Sarah Palin (as Eli just was below), was there a more astonishingly ironic moment in politics this week than this?

Conservative author Ann Coulter on Monday night lamented that “charlatans” like Sarah Palin managed to remain prominent voices within the conservative movement…

At a Lincoln Day Dinner event in Florida, she was asked about the possibility of a brokered Republican convention.

“One of the ones promoting that is Sarah Palin, who has suggested herself as the choice,” Coulter replied….

… I think our party and particularly our movement, the conservative movement, does have more of a problem with con men and charlatans than the Democratic Party,” Coulter continued. “I mean, the incentives seem to be set up to allow people, as long as you have a band of a few million fanatical followers, you can make money….

There’s no indication, sadly, that anyone nearby was able to hold up a mirror in Coulter’s direction as she was saying this.  (Then again, a mirror might not be effective in Coulter’s vicinity, anyway…)  But it’s nice to see her essentially confirm something I’ve written about here once or twice — namely, “the essential flim-flam” at the core of the Republican effort to find someone new who can pull off the Reagan (and Bush) trick of “present[ing] the public with a bland, unthreatening face that effectively hides the party’s underlying cruel policy agenda.”

Palin’s nomination for vice president in 2008 could have been a stroke of genius for the GOP’s future, if she’d played her cards right.  But then again, so could have Rick Perry’s entry into the 2012 presidential contest: as governor of Texas, he had the perfect Republican-archetype pedigree, but was a new face on the national scene who could have taken advantage of the public’s unfamiliarity to forge a successful image… if he’d played his cards right.

The reason Palin and Perry failed is because they had no interest in working hard enough to play their parts as Potemkin mavericks convincingly.  And that’s because despite the efforts of the GOP moneymen and operatives to groom them as puppet-like fronts for the right-wing agenda, somehow it never sunk in for them that they were just flunkies who were expected to be disciplined in executing their roles.

Instead, as those behind-the-scenes kingmakers hauled them to third base, politically speaking, Perry and Palin became convinced that their innate electoral genius had hit a triple…. so all they had to do was keep being themselves, and they’d inevitably cross home plate.

It’s a delusion that we should be grateful for, I guess.