Sarah Palin's Dysfunctional Organization May Be Her Undoing

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at the Republican congressional fundraiser on Monday.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at the Republican congressional fundraiser on Monday. (By Manuel Balce Ceneta -- Associated Press)
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By Kathleen Parker
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and GOP "It" girl, can warm up the Republican base like a hot toddy in a duck blind. But further inside the party organization, the air is a little nippy.

What happened? In a word, bungling.

Everyone seems to have a Sarah Palin story of ignored calls, mishandled invitations or unanswered e-mail. Disorganized is how one might charitably describe the Palin operation.

"Basically, it's just rude," says one political operative who is a Palin fan. "They've been running the great snub machine. That's the reason the boys in the Republican Party are unhappy with her."

That unhappiness has been building gradually in the past seven months, and it was on full display this week as the party faithful gathered for a fundraising dinner at which Palin originally was invited to speak. She was later uninvited, and Newt Gingrich took her place.

Watching the dinner-speaker spectacle develop, then unravel, then redevelop (Will she or won't she speak/attend?) felt like watching a middle-school romance in which a friend tells another friend that so-and-so has a crush on you-know-who, but don't tell anybody. A little silly, in other words. And embarrassing.

The "tick-tock" of what happened is a byzantine exercise in blame-shifting. Briefly, someone in Palin's "organization" accepted the original invitation in March, whereupon the dinner hosts issued a press release announcing that Palin would be the keynote speaker.


But then, no, Palin had not accepted. In fact, the press release was the first she'd heard of it. The official story suddenly became that SarahPAC had jumped the gun and that Palin wasn't sure she could make the event. Enter Newt Gingrich. Then last week, so-and-so said she'd like to come, but you-know-who said, "We like someone else now."

There's more -- and stories vary -- but a common theme emerges: Seven months after the election, Palin still can't shoot straight. Unless something changes dramatically and soon, "Missed Opportunity" should be the title of her memoir.

By the time Palin returned to Alaska last fall, her popularity and fundraising ability were second only to Barack Obama's. Instantly, she was drowning in speaking requests. Boxes and boxes of invitations stacked up -- and went unprocessed.

Without any effort on her part, 75,000 to 80,000 fans around the country organized pro-Palin groups. Said a frustrated Palin promoter: "All she had to do for those 75,000 people was hold an electronic town hall, and she couldn't get around to it."

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