Sarah Palin speaks, but are Americans heeding her anymore?(Read article summary)
Sarah Palin is speaking out about alleged insider trading by members of Congress and is shopping a new reality TV series. But networks aren't biting, and some analysts doubt her star can rise again.
Long live Sarah Palin?
The former GOP vice-presidential candidate is back in the news, tangling with Washington insiders such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut over alleged insider trading and "sweetheart land deals" by members of Congress (see also Tuesday's op-ed in USA Today) and shopping a new reality TV series featuring her husband, Todd.
The one-time GOP kingmaker â€“ who said Oct. 5 she would not run for the party's presidential nomination but who has yet to endorse a candidate â€“ proved to be a force to be reckoned with during the 2010 midterm elections. But analysts now are divided over Ms. Palin'sÂ political influence on the election cycle ahead, with some saying her star has waned so far it's about to drop into the ocean and others noting that she remains popular with her base and is even "electable."
â€śPalin is trying to reposition herself to have influence in the upcoming political season,â€ťÂ says Atlanta-based Republican strategist David Johnson, an adviser to Sen. Robert Dole during his 1988 presidential campaign. This is a tough path, because she has lost so much credibility with even her committed followers. â€śMany expected her to carry their values forward, and instead she seemed more interested in pursuing her own celebrity," he says.
Others see that path as all but impossible.Â Palin has become nearly irrelevant, says Tom Fiedler, former executive editor of the Miami Herald andÂ now dean of Boston Universityâ€™s College of Communication. â€śAmericaâ€™s fascination with Sarah Palin is like everyoneâ€™s fascination with a shiny and sleek new car that hints of fun and adventure,â€ť he says. But if it quits early, or if it refuses to run at all, â€śpreferring to sit at the curb and look nice, our fascination will quickly die."
Palin quit as Alaskaâ€™s governor midway through her first term, he notes, and she refused to answer supportersâ€™ pleas to enter the GOP presidential race. â€śSheâ€™s become the Kim Kardashian of politics,â€ť he adds, â€śfamous only for being famous.â€ť
As if to drive home that point, the TLC and A&E cable networks are both reported to be passing on a pitch for a second Palin-based reality TV series. The first, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," sold for roughly $1 million per episode and racked up 5 million viewers. But the latest idea â€“ which would feature Todd Palin's snowmobiling adventures â€“ is going begging, reports the trade publication The Hollywood Reporter. Â
Palin's "sell by" date is past, agrees Dorothy James, a government professor at Connecticut College in New London. â€śThere are newer Republican hopefuls who are sucking the oxygen out of any hopes she may have,â€ť she says via e-mail. â€śShe lacks the discipline to do the hard slog of running for national office on her own or actually governing.â€ťÂ
But Palin retains a strong base of political support, note others who are not so quick to write her off.
â€śIs Palin electable? Absolutely,â€ť says Mark Tatge, visiting professor of journalism at DePauw Universityâ€™s Center for Contemporary Media.
Palin could deliver a certain base of people a presidential ticket with, say, Newt Gingrich at the top, he says. â€śSuch a partnership is not out of the question,â€ť he says, although Palin will have to find a way to â€śatone for quitting the job of governor.â€ť
Less-likely candidates, he says, have made it to the top spot. â€śConsider the former B-movie actor who was seen as a bit of a lightweight with a messy divorce in his past,â€ť says Professor Tatge, â€śand Ronald Reagan not only got elected but went on to become a two-term president.â€ť