Last night, Stephen Colbert mocked Sarah Palin for writing notes on her hand for Saturday's Tea Party Q&A, but her response — also on her hand — illustrates why she's a fearsome prospect for 2012.

Colbert calls Palin out for dissing Obama's teleprompter when she uses a "handoprompter," and pokes fun at the extremely basic nature of her notes (and her ideas) by taking note of his own thumb. Others criticized her too, and as we've seen, Palin doesn't let criticism go unanswered. The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes,

When it was pointed out that Palin had scribbled some policy points on to her hand during the Tea Party Q and A, she was widely mocked. The next day, Palin wrote "Hi Mom!" on her palm. Palin doesn't like to be mocked, but she doesn't like to be beaten, either.

Palin's statement on Fox News Sunday that "It would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country," and the "infrastructure of an expanding political operation" that the Times says she's building, make it almost certain that she's planning a 2012 presidential campaign. And right now, she's running on the Palm Platform — a combination of anti-intellectualism, insults, and self-congratulation. That "Hi Mom" seems to say, "Yeah, I wrote 'tax cuts' on my hand. So what?"

Ambinder points out that Palin's base remains residents of places like Couer d'Alene, Idaho — middle American towns that are, not coincidentally, heavily white. He writes, "What's most appealing about Palin to these exurbanites, I think, is that the big Elite Crucible tore her apart — and she rose again, stood up, straightened her dress, and is now confronting her tormentors." It's not just Sarah Palin who feeds on criticism, turning it around to make it sound elitist and mean-spirited — her popularity feeds on this too. She continues to charm even those who think she's "a moron," as evinced by Michael Wolff's entire essay about "how really compelling she is," and her base loves her so much that one woman's biggest worry for a 2012 presidential bid is "I wouldn't want her to be hurt that bad."

Ambinder also notes that "resentment without a vision is a wind that's blowing at Palin's back, but it'll become a tailwind as it limits her salience to those without the mental habits of Ross Perot/Wallace-type voters," and that she "surrounds herself with a loyal and dedicated group, but one that is not ready to run a presidential campaign." And Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake says Palin alienated some libertarian Tea-Partiers with her bomb-Iran talk. But as Ambinder says, Palin combines a facility with resentment politics with "an aspirational dimension that motivates the middle class to vote." At least for now, she may not have ideas, but she has an alchemical ability to turn her critics' hate into her supporters' love. For all those who still think she can't possibly make a go of it in 2012, the writing's on the hand.

Getting Sarah Palin's Paradigm [The Atlantic Politics Blog]
Palin Puts Together A ... Campaign? [The Atlantic Politics Blog]
Palin Says 2012 Presidential Bid A Possibility [CNN]
Palin, Visible And Vocal, Is Positioned For Variety Of Roles [NYT]
Palin Drives Libertarians Out Of Tea Party [Firedoglake]
Palin Responds To ‘Run, Sarah, Run' [NYT]
For Me, Palin Scores [Newser, via Vanity Fair]