RSVP Regrets Only
I wasn’t surprised to read that Sarah Palin has been replaced by Newt Gingrich as the keynote speaker for the high-profile fundraising dinner to be held by House and Senate Republicans later this spring. I am not sure “replaced” is actually the appropriate word since it is not clear the Alaskan governor ever actually accepted the invitation. This latest drama from the Palin camp is indicative of the odd parallel political universe in which the governor has functioned ever since the November election. Whether due to personal missteps or bad advice from others, Palin seems to be having real difficulty navigating the political space between her newly-stoked national ambition and the local political culture from which she governs Alaska.
Newt actually seems like a reasonable choice for the speaking gig, given the Republican Party’s need to find its way out of the policy wilderness. As I wrote last month, Gingrich has gone to great lengths to recast himself as a conservative policy wonk, and as someone who can help the party regain its programmatic footing. He clearly sees this as a desirable role for himself, especially as a means of maintaining his relevance within the party.
But for whatever influence Gingrich might exert on the Republican agenda over the next four years, I think it will eventually fall to others in the party to put the electoral face on that agenda. And while Palin may currently have the star power among conservatives to bring in big bucks for the party, I am more skeptical than ever that she will be the candidate to whom this big task falls.

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