THE SUBTEXT OF DISHING PALIN DIRT…. Former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is obviously one of the more active national players this year, making plenty of campaign appearances for her preferred far-right candidates. Jonathan Martin notes today that those who come in contact with her and her team, however, are left feeling “angered and frustrated.”

The election is two weeks away, but the campaign trail reviews of Sarah Palin already are in, and they aren’t pretty.

According to multiple Republican campaign sources, the former Alaska governor wreaks havoc on campaign logistics and planning. She offers little notice about her availability, refuses to do certain events, is obsessive about press coverage and sometimes backs out with as little lead time as she gave in the first place.

In short, her seat-of-the-pants operation can be a nightmare to deal with.

Martin added that Palin has “trust issues,” which means she won’t expand her inner circle and can’t “establish the sort of infrastructure necessary to coordinate basic matters such as surrogacy and travel.” The result is a sizable group of GOP officials, who characterize Palin’s “disorganization and restrictions … as rude.”

Martin wasn’t lacking in anecdotes for the piece — candidates, state parties, conservative media outlets, and party operatives all seemed anxious to let Politico know how truly awful it is to even try to deal with the chaos, incompetence, and excessive demands surrounding Team Palin.

But what I found especially interesting about this was the subtext: the Republican Party may love Palin’s ability to whip the base into a frenzy, but it doesn’t mind dishing to the media about how ill prepared she is to lead or have real responsibilities.

Jonathan Bernstein had a good piece on this, noting the importance of the underlying politics behind stories like these: “always think about why people talk to reporters, and why these particular sources talked to this reporter about this particular topic.”

Why are Republican operatives feeding negative stories about Palin to Politico two weeks before the midterm elections? I certainly don’t know, but that’s my first reaction when I read the story. Are they trying to deflate her as a 2012 contender? If so, is it because other candidates have friends around the country? Could be. Is it because many GOP insiders read the polls, and think she’s poison for the party? Could be. Is it because Republicans are at heart hierarchical and traditional, and just really can’t stomach this crazy person…ahem, this crazy woman, from nowheresville, who just doesn’t look like what they think a President of the United States should look? I don’t know.

I thought it was certainly very interesting that Chuck Grassley’s campaign was identified by name; Grassley has an easy reelection bid right now and doesn’t have to face a primary for six years, so he’s pretty safe from retribution, and he may be reminding not just Palin but all prospective candidates to pay proper fealty to him as the caucuses approach. Don’t forget the obvious possibility that perhaps it’s just straightforward: she really does have an incompetent operation, which has repeatedly burned and angered so many people that it’s produced a subset willing to talk to a good, aggressive, reporter. Again, could be.

Something to keep an eye on as Palin gears up for 2012.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.