Reagan may have been an actor but Palin at least did some sportscasting. She can learn her lines pretty well and I really do not think she is stupid. Ignorant and incurious, yes, but not stupid. She was thrust not only into a national scene without any previous thought or preparation about national and international issues, and held to knowing and suporting a list of positions held by the top of the ticket that she didn’t necessarily agree with. Very few would fail to burn in that crucible.
Next time up she has a chance to get more fully prepped on issues. And to call them her own.
Step one is winning a primary - having the support of the social conservatives is always a good way to start on that path. She’ll have to compete with Huckabee, and Jindal - both pretty solid with the social conservative crowd too - and Romney will likely be the poster boy for the forces who want to go more moderate and emphasize fiscal restraint.
If she gets over that hurdle then maybe she’ll be able to play culture wars effectively enough to be a threat in a general.
The odds of her success depend more on who decides to manage her, and how they decide to do it, more than on her, herself. And what happens under Obama’s turn up. As Sam points out. If the bus isn’t adequately pushed out of the ditch it has been driven into by then a new “throw the bums out” mindset may come right up. And we are in a pretty deep and muddy ditch.