The most encouraging news I saw over the week end was this: “Pit Bull Turns On McMaverick.” It seems that Sarah Palin (aka The Natural) has realized that her timid GOP handlers don’t know which end is up:

“Things have gotten so tense between Palin and her traveling staff, an insider said, that she’s overruling their advice – which was evident last week when she ignored GOP aides piling into waiting cars at a Colorado event and strolled over to the press corps for an impromptu talk.”

These were the handlers who instead of letting Sarah be Sarah arranged a sit-down for a pop-quiz with Katie Couric.

It’s good that Palin is asserting herself-and it’s like her to do so, from all we know about her from people who really know. There’s a gulf between the assessments of Palin by those who have worked with her and those who just comment on her. Fred Barnes makes this point in a piece headlined “To Know Her Is to Respect Her:”

“The positive assessment of Palin by those who know her or have worked with her has come close to being drowned out by her critics, from the right and the left. Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist, wrote last week that McCain was seduced by Palin’s attractiveness into picking her as his running mate. The basis for Parker’s conclusion was a comment by her husband about Palin, seconded by a friend (‘I’m sexually attracted to her’), and a magazine article. Palin doesn’t recall ever having met Parker, much less been interviewed by her.

“Peggy Noonan, the former White House speechwriter for President Reagan who now writes for the Wall Street Journal, has run hot and cold on Palin, mostly cold. What appears to be her final judgment is that Palin’s nomination for vice president is ‘no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And, yes, it’s a mark against John McCain.’ Palin and Noonan have never conversed either.

“David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, has rendered an even harsher verdict, calling Palin ‘a fatal cancer to the Republican party.’ So far as Palin knows, she’s never met Brooks or been interviewed by him.

“And then there’s the view of Matthew Dowd, a top strategist for President Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004. He’s been quoted as saying that McCain actually knows now that Palin is unqualified to be vice president. By choosing her, McCain ‘put the country at risk.’

“The difference of opinion here, between those who know Palin and those who don’t, is unusual. The criticism of Palin is personal. Normally in politics, campaign operatives are called on to make excuses for a dull and uninspiring candidate. Invariably, they explain that in private, especially face-to-face with a small group of voters, the candidate is dazzlingly likable and enormously persuasive.”

Read Barnes’ whole piece. And, by the way, no matter what happens Nov. 4, Palin will be back. As the Pit Bull Turns story notes:

“Palin is not likely to roll over and let herself be scapegoated if things don’t go well on Nov. 4.

“‘She’s a lot savvier, politically speaking, than people give her credit for,’ said a GOP strategist.”

Actually, she’s a lot savvier than her handlers gave her credit for being.