Sarah Palin is putting together a campaign team, and Washington is taking notice. Mark Leibovich of the New York Times described her bare-bones political operation. Here is what I know: she is not worried about fundraising right now. Pam Pryor, a former RNC senior adviser, leads Palin's political action committee and is orchestrating her outreach to social conservatives. Randy Scheunenmann remains her policy maestro, with informal assistance from his Orion Strategies colleague Michael Goldfarb, the former Weekly Standard writer and McCain campaign rapid responder. (Goldfarb did not return an e-mail seeking comment about his future in Palin's world.) Fred Malek is perhaps the single Washington establishment figure that Palin turns to, although Malek has insisted that he is neutral about the presidential race --- though he admits to having a soft spot in his heart for Palin.
Palin's opponents believe that her downfall will be an accelerated reiteration of 2008: when the broader public turned against her because she seemed vapid and nasty, rather than clever and clean -- and THAT was the censored version! And that was before the flaky and irresponsible (?) resignation as governor of Alaska. They note that Palin, having faced down the Elite Crucible and lost, now has to face the even tougher crucible of Iowa -- give her three or four months there and see if she survives. (If she DOES survive, how could she NOT be the nominee?)
This isn't just an ideological point, but one of substance and positioning -- she is a candidate of grievance and anger, a candidate sharpest when she is running against something, not for something. These candidates do great on the stump, rally strong supporters, and can eventually mount substantial challenges -- but they usually don't win, even the nomination. Palin is best when she is pushing off some "outrage": the Alaska establishment, the McCain handlers, David Letterman, GOP moderates -- even Obama.