So, Sarah Palin and Fox News Channel have parted ways.  That’s the end of her public career. She has little real influence in Republican circles anymore, and it seems that Roger Ailes realized that Palin’s past her sell-by date. RCP quotes a source close to Palin saying that the former Alaska governor “will be expanding her voice in the national discussion.” Er, no, she won’t. She’ll be doing the political equivalent of dinner theater and appearing on “Match Game.”

While I’m not sorry to see Palin leave public life, inasmuch as she had come to represent a shallow, emotivist sort of conservatism, I find myself not thinking “good riddance” but rather, “dang, she could have been a contender.”

As an early fan of Palin’s, I was pleased that John McCain had tapped an outsider with a proven record as a reformer, and someone whose political instincts seemed populist in a good way. We quickly learned in the fall of 2008 that Palin was not remotely ready for the national stage. I suppose she probably never would have been — she was too unstable, and not as interested in ideas and policy as a president needs to be — but it’s interesting to contemplate what she might have become had she not been elevated so far so fast by McCain. If she had worked at becoming a good governor, she might have really done something, and become an effective conservative leader.

Instead, she became a Fox News personality. And now, not even that. Too bad.