I think Ross Douthat nails it with respect to the post-2008 trajectory of Governor Sarah Palin:
Palin was caricatured viciously, but in response she decided to essentially become the caricature, giving her enemies exactly the kind of Spiro Agnew-in-heels performance they expected, and then chasing celebrity in destructive (if lucrative) ways once the initial firestorm around her subsided. The only thing that can be said in her defense is that her choices, while misguided, have been very, very human. Consider: If you were bounced from obscurity to national prominence and immediately found yourself attacked from every angle imaginable — the personal, the political, and everywhere in between — to whom would you instinctively turn to for advice and counsel? To the elite Republicans who seemed to disdain you from the beginning? To the McCain strategists who sent you out as an attack dog and then blamed you for their own missteps and misjudgments? To the establishment media mavens who never gave you a fair shake? Or would you turn instead to the various conservative commentators, activists, radio hosts and bloggers who made it their business to champion you as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, to defend you from every attack (fair and unfair alike), to spin your blunders as successes and your gaffes as wisdom, and to generally insist that you could do no wrong?
We know how Palin answered that question. She has been ill-served, to put it mildly, by her “you’re great, you’re perfect, don’t change” admirers; she would have been far better off taking advice from some of her more constructive critics instead. But listening to one’s critics is hard; listening to the people who stood by you when you were in the crucible is far more natural and understandable. And that all-too-human tendency, as much as anything else, explains why we’ve ended up with a Sarah Palin who sounds more like, well, a right-wing talk-radio host than the promising politician she once was.
Read the whole thing. There’s probably a lesson in there for all of us.
HT: Justin Taylor