Palin Has Become The Very Thing She Sneered at in ’08: A Celebrity


One of the McCain-Palin campaign’s strangest moves in the 2008 campaign was the release of an attack ad against Barack Obama that attempted to marginalize him by casting him as a celebrity. It even made visual references to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Since then Sarah Palin has been on a long strange trip — from losing the United States vice presidency to quitting halfway through her term as governor of Alaska, from landing a phone-it-in gig as a propagandist on Fox News to publishing a best-selling ghost-written memoir, and from making $125,000 per year as governor to charging $100,000 per gig on the rubber chicken circuit.

Now ABC News is reporting that since she walked away from her job as governor in July 2009, Palin has raked in $12 million.

Sarah Palin is not the only failed politician out there cashing in on political stardom, of course. She has largely co-opted Newt Gingrich’s playbook. After being forced out as House Speaker because he was having an extramarital affair with a staffer at the same time he was leading the charge to impeach Pres. Clinton for having an affair with a staffer, Gingrich has built a lucrative career writing books, giving speeches and as a Fox on-air propagandist based entirely on a perpetual tease that he might run for president — despite the fact he has a less than zero chance of winning.

Like Gingrich, Palin is unelectable, and like Gingrich, she is manipulating the media by dangling the possibility out there that one day she might just give it a go, and run for the big chair. What the heck.

But she is no longer a politician. She’s too dense, incurious and inarticulate to be a real pundit. To call her an author defiles the word. So, besides “half-term governor,” what should we call her?

Simple. Sarah Palin is a celebrity.

For example, a copy of the celebrity rider to Palin’s speaking contract that ennumerates her demands and requirements from event hosts was found in a trash can and released to the media. According to the rider (PDF), Palin requires:

  • First-class airfare or a “private aircraft [that] MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger (as defined by interior cabin space) for West Coast Events; or, a Hawker 800 or larger (as defined by interior cabin space) for East Coast Events and both are subject to the [Sarah Palin’s] approval. [Palin] reserves the right to change the flight plans at any time.
  • Ground transportation must be “SUV(s) from a professionally licensed and insured car service. lf SUV(s) are not available, black town cars may be substituted. WSB [Washington Speakers Bureau] will arrange all of [Palin’s] ground transportation. Only representatives of [Sarah Palin] or WSB are to meet [her] at the arriving/departing airport.
  • [Palin] reserves the right to participate in private business including but not limited to book or political events during their visit. For any other event which is subject to media coverage, the [event host] will be advised of such event. For international events, [Palin] also reserves the right to visit privately with the host government’s Head of State, Head of Government, Ministerial-level officials, the U.S. Embassy and others as necessary. [Sarah Palin] reserves the right to accept the invitation of host government to overnight at an official residence.”
  • Unopened bottled still water (2 bottles) and bendable straws are to be placed in or near the wooden lectern. A representative of WSB or [Palin’s] party will open the water at an appropriate time prior to [Palin’s] participation in the program. No Plexiglas or thin lecterns please. If [Palin] is seated on-stage at a table customer to ensure that the table is skirted
  • Questions from the audience must be pre-screened.
  • No autographs.

One possible omission: Palin also requires a teleprompter, which she likely requires to be hidden from view — unlike the 20 or so photos of Palin with teleprompters we dug up.

Tina Fey caught the spirit of Palin’s new status in a parody on Saturnight Live last week, in which she, as Palin, announced that she was starting her own broadcast channel, similar to Oprah’s.

“Ever since I won the Silver Medal in last year’s vice presidential election,” says Tina Fey in another portrayal of Sarah Palin, she has done her best to connect with everyday Americans.

“It just seemed like the next logical step was to launch my own network,” Fey said on Saturday Night Live — with a premier “network” report about the “Obama death panel” declaring that her daughter’s ankle injury was too costly and that they would have to put her down.

Given she’ll never be president of the United States, maybe Palin’s strategy is go for something bigger: Maybe she wants to become an Oprah Winfrey-style celebrity empath and impresario for the tea-bagger set.