Ditching Sarah Palin for Newt?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Apr 01, 2009 9:22 AM
http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/famecrawler/2008/09/08-15/sarah_palin_01a.jpgI hesitate to be critical of Sarah Palin. The last time I did so here at Townhall, I was compared -- in the comments section -- to David Frum.

That, of course, is the kind of insult that makes one think twice before considering writing another critical Palin post. (For what it's worth, I was also accused of being a Romney shill and a closet Jindal backer...)

But news that Sarah Palin had been replaced as the featured speaker at the upcoming Senate-House GOP dinner by former Speaker Newt Gingrich makes the discussion of Palin relevant once again (by the way, did you notice the Politico borrowed my headline, "Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner" -- I guess it was an obvious choice.)

"Replaced" might be the polite term. FOX put it this way:

Congressional Republicans decided Tuesday to ditch the former GOP vice presidential nominee in favor of the former House speaker for the critical House-Senate fundraising dinner in June 8 in Washington. It's the marquee Republican event to raise money for GOP House and Senate candidates.

I've long been a staunch Palin booster, and frankly, I still feel like most of the attacks of Palin were shameful and unwarranted. But I also think it's fair to point out the obvious: There is a serious competency issue to deal with regarding her political operation.

So who is to blame? It would be easy to blame the DC folks at SarahPac, but the problem may well rest with Palin's Alaska folks.

I can't help but think back to an event which should have tipped me off to this ...

Way back in late 2007 -- after I had already written a couple of very favorable posts about this Alaska Governor named Sarah Palin (but long before she was considered for the Veep spot) -- I contacted Palin's Alaska office and requested an interview. I assumed they would jump at the chance to be interviewed by a conservative blogger at Townhall.com -- especially by one who had already written a couple of positive pieces about her. Instead, Palin's folks very politely told me they weren't interested in having her talk to me.

Sure, it seemed odd for a politician to pass up what would likely have been a positive piece -- but I didn't think too much of it at the time. It was, after all, a small thing. But now, this small incident keeps coming back to me as perhaps having served as a harbinger of things to come -- a political operation that never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Of course, the only reason any of this matters because Palin is a likely contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. As such, this incident should concern Republicans for two reasons:

First, you could argue that a principal is always ultimately responsible for her operation. As such, a confused or incompetent staff might speak to leadership problems at the top. Some people believe you can judge a leader by their lieutenants, and that a political operation is merely a reflection of the candidate.

Second, even if you don't believe the obvious confusion is any reflection on Palin, voters should think twice before nominating a candidate whose political team is not capable of running a credible and organized national campaign.

It is important to note that my concern with Sarah Palin has nothing to do with her political philosophy -- it has to do with the perception that her operation lacks competence.

... Don't worry -- I'm not writing-off Sarah Palin just yet. She's too talented for that. But I hope this will serve as a wake-up call to insist on building a competent organization that is, at least, capable of scheduling a dinner...