Elaine Lafferty, pro-choice feminist Democrat and erstwhile editor in chief of Ms. magazine, thinks Sarah Palin is a brilliant woman :

Now by “smart,” I don’t refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don’t really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernible pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a “quick study”; I’d heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her “confidence” is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.

One should immediately point out that she’s a pro-choice feminist Democrat advising the McCain campaign , so she’s not exactly a disinterested party. But it’s hard to think her description is made out of whole cloth.