Jacob Heilbrunn

Vanity Fair's Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is on a roll. Even negative coverage from the mainstream media can only help her cause. This week's big story appears in Vanity Fair which alleges that Palin has a bad temper (not news), relies on "prayer warriors" to protect her from the outside world (mildly interesting), and can be something of a cheapskate (stiffing bellhops, among other things). But the obsessive attention that the media is paying to Palin simply ratifies her importance. She has become a traveling road show for the GOP, its star attraction.

Palin has also put together a formidable Washington-based team, according to VF:

Palin's public voice is an instrument of great versatility. In a few moments, she can turn from kind to hateful, rational to unhinged. At her best Palin can be folksy and pungent. But she needs outside help to give her voice its national range. For messaging strategy, Palin relies on William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and Fred Malek, who was an aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush. The lawyer Robert Barnett, the most successful literary agent in Washington—his clients range from Hillary Clinton to Dick Cheney to Tony Blair—negotiated Palin’s reported $7 million advance for Going Rogue, and he helps oversee her speaking schedule, which is arranged by the Washington Speakers Bureau. The small inner circle that shapes Palin’s voice day to day includes lobbyist Randy Scheunemann, a director of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, who advises Palin on foreign affairs, and Kim Daniels, a lawyer with the Thomas More Law Center, which has been called “the Christian answer to the A.C.L.U.,” who advises her on domestic issues. 

So far, Palin, it must be said, is beefing up her credentials. The Tea Party may be heading for another big victory. In Delaware, Congressman Mike Castle, who is running for the Senate, could be toppled in a Republican primary upset by loopy Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell. O'Donnell hasn't garnered the backing of the biggest of "mama grizzlies," Sarah Palin, but she's already growling at Castle. How long can it be before Palin weighs in?

The Republican establishment in Washington has gone into overdrive to try and deny O'Donnell the nomination. But so far, the Tea Party has successfully defied the establishment. Usually grizzlies go into hibernation in the winter. But it's starting to look as though Palin could have a decisive effect on the midterm elections. If the Tea Party does well, the biggest victor will probably be Palin. She will not hesitate to mold the GOP in her image.