Sarah Palin Needs to Ditch Beltway Style for Republican Substance

She needs to get serious like Sanford, Jindal, Barbour, and Romney.

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I don't think Sarah Palin is dumb, but I do wonder how ready to work she is. Jonathan Capehart has a good post today on Sarah Palin's weekend debut into the beltway elite, particularly in regards to where the Alaska governor ranks in terms of influence in her party.

Palin, he noted, was included in Chris Cillizza's recent roundup of the most influential GOP leaders:

Governors from South Carolina (Mark Sanford), Louisiana (Bobby Jindal) and Mississippi (Haley Barbour) made the list. As did former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has huddled with congressional Republicans to discuss the stimulus bill. Not unlike Palin, the other governors are running their states in the worst economic environment in decades. But Sanford, Jindal and Barbour are also in positions to directly affect the policy direction of the GOP. Sanford is the current head of the Republican Governors Association. Barbour, a former chairman of the party, is seen as a front-runner for the RGA top-spot in 2010. And Jindal talked candidly about the party's need to retake the mantle of ethics and good government.

Palin, Capehart notes, has become the political equivalent of being famous for being famous, but has thus far failed to actually articulate a vision (or even try) for where she wants to take the party.

When Palin spoke to the Republican Governors Association a week after the election, she reverted to the cotton-candy campaign stump speech that proved unsuccessful. When House Republicans invited the life of the Grand Old Party to give a morale-boosting speech to the faithful this past weekend, she begged off. Something about pressing business in Alaska keeping her in the state. Things must have wrapped up pretty quickly, because there she was with the Washington elite she so disdained at the Capital Hilton on Saturday night. Palin's Capitol Hill colleagues were not amused.

Which brings us back to the issue of Palin's smarts. I don't think she's an idiot, I think she was poorly prepared for high office, but might well be as bright as some say. That said, assuming that she is in fact interested in a 2012 presidential run, what she needs to do now is leave the spotlight for a while and actually do the hard work of preparation. As a start, that means visiting with House Republicans while snubbing the Alfalfa crowd, not the other way around. And it means boning up on policy and making a substantive contribution to the party's debate.

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