Sarah Palin Is the Wrong Replacement for Michael Steele


At the Corner, Kevin Williamson claims that

Palin would be a much better RNC chairman than presidential candidate or freelance kingmaker. She’d raise tons of money and help recruit good candidates, i.e., she’d excel at doing the things Steele should have been doing instead of appointing himself Republican pundit-at-large.

A Chairman Palin would help set the right tone for the Republican party without having to get herself entangled in the minutiae of policy-development, which has not been her forte. Sure, she’d be polarizing, but so is Barack Obama, and these are polarized times. And it’s one thing to have a polarizing party chairman, another to have a polarizing candidate.

Anybody disagree?

I disagree. Here’s why. Even if you like Palin — especially if you like Palin — it should be evident that the Power of Sarah is dampened, not amplified, by the obligations of office. Public office, party office, no matter: here is a woman whose ability to influence public opinion, command fundraising, and electrify Republican politics depends almost entirely on her ability to choose independently when, how, and indeed whether to speak and act. The speeches and deeds that are the province of party chairpersons are inimical to Palin’s style and substance.

The position of RNC Chair demands a disposition and an education that Sarah Palin does not possess and does not wish to learn. This is fine — few children will ever want to be Ken Mehlman when they grow up. There is a lot to hate about life as a party chair, and the job will go down in history as a gig that only the Macker could love. But the brute reality is clear: the next RNC Chair must perform, on command and on television, the full spectrum of on-message tricks, not just ringing platitudes but, turning on a dime, an encyclopedic host of policy details. The next RNC Chair must reek of competence the way Bill Clinton reeks of confidence.

Sarah Palin would be a much better party chair than Michael Steele, in the sense that a shot of tequila would be a better meal than a Chicken McNugget. But there is no need for that desperate calculus, and there is no time for confusion. Sarah Palin belongs exactly where she is. Installing her as Chair would be a discredit to the GOP and to Palin herself, a misbegotten attempt to solve the wrong problem with the wrong person.

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There are 9 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive

    Palin is suitable for half of the RNC Chairman’s job–advocate–but not the other half–fundraiser. The fundraiser role is best done by someone who’s more of a blank slate than Palin is. You want everyone who might donate to feel that the RNC Chairman is in their corner, or at least is sympathetic to their corner, no mater where they fit on the Republican spectrum. My choice is not likely to accept the job, but someone like Dennis Prager would be perfect. Who (right of center) doesn’t like Dennis Prager? And yet, Prager is a powerful advocate for conservatism. Best of both worlds.

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    I’ve long been embarrassed by Palin’s stature within the conservative movement. As much as I sympathized with her ill treatment in the national media and at the hands of disgruntled liberals, it is in the face of adversity we demonstrate our mettle. Palin has definitively shown she lacks the chops for leadership. There is a place for her as a pundit, but never as a leader. As frustrating as Steele’s tenure has been, Palin would be much worse. She presents a capital target, and worse yet we would deserve the criticism for her appointment.

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  3. Profile Photo Inactive

    ^That was me, sorry, still getting the hang of this^.

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  4. Profile Photo Member
    Sarah Palin would be a much better party chair than Michael Steele, in the sense that a shot of tequila would be a better meal than a Chicken McNugget

    Great line! I’m a Palin fan, but a party chair should be boring to the uninformed viewer. The GOP needs someone who is, as you said, highly informed and able to articulate stances at a moment’s notice. I would add that they should not be a “personality.”

    An important distinction: the GOP needs someone with personality, but I’d rather they not pin all their hopes on a few energetic talkers. Out of more than 300 million Americans, there’s no reason each party should be run by 2-3 celebrity politicians!

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  5. Profile Photo Inactive

    I agree that it is not the job for Sarah Palin. When I try to think of a suitable replacement, one name comes to mind….but I’m uncertain about his suitability: Newt Gingrich.

    How many comments will this post get? You used the “P” word!

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  6. Profile Photo Inactive

    bump 4 P

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  7. Profile Photo Inactive

    Scratch a Palin-for-RNC promoter, and you’d find, I suspect, a Pawlenty or Romney operative…

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  8. Profile Photo Member

    Palin is fine right where she is, a lightning rod for the left and a focus for its incontinent rage. The mundane matters of party administration, fund raising and ego management can be handled by a lesser light.

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  9. Profile Photo Member

    The names of potential replacements are being tossed up by those who are still after Steele’s head in the hopes that something, some day, will stick, and a TEA Party organizer will take over. Sort of like Taft v. Eisenhower extending for 10 years.

    This is not a productive continuous exercise, and I am not convinced that those who have perpetuated it since Steele’s election to the job have the best electoral interests of the GOP (the core task of the RNC Chair position) at heart. They may believe that it would be best long term if the party moved “right”, or spoke with one voice regarding Afghanistan, or would make the centerpiece of the platform gay marriage, whatever.

    But if you care about electing Republicans this November, you stop the constant attempted fratricide and go work on the ground game in some swing district.

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