To be fair to Dowd, his argument comes with plenty of caveats—near the top of his op-ed, he says, “I agree that her success is not probable.” And it may be possible to imagine a President Palin: All the other GOP candidates are compromised in some way that’s not now apparent, or the current tensions over the future of the conservative movement break into open warfare, and she squeaks through a divided field on the strength of a small, fervent base. Then, some earth-shaking Obama-related scandal or an economy that has never recovered depresses Democrats and persuades independents to swallow their dislike of Palin. All the while, her campaign keeps it together, despite her apparent disinterest in building a sustainable political operation. Stranger things have happened, if not in modern presidential elections. At the very least, her chances are probably better than this guy’s.

But we could spin out that sort of story line about plenty of other people, if we were so inclined. And if Sarah Palin actually begins to do any of the things that people are suggesting would broaden her appeal—or if she shows signs of assembling a capable team around her—there will be plenty of time to take stock and see if she has remade herself as a viable presidential candidate. Until then, let’s put this story line to bed, once and for all.

Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.