The Campaign Spot

Forget the Presidency & Its Burdens, Who Wouldn’t Want Sarah Palin’s Deal?

From this morning’s Jolt:

There They Go Again, Obsessing over Attractive Politicians’ Figures

New York magazine discovers that Sarah Palin is making a lot of money, and dutifully quotes Kathy Griffin date/nude model/ne’er-do-well Levi Johnson.

The figures: “The numbers are staggering. Over the past year, Palin has amassed a $12 million fortune and shows no sign of slowing down. Her memoir has so far sold more than 2.2 million copies, and Palin is planning a second book with HarperCollins. This January, she signed a three-year contributor deal with Fox News worth $1 million a year, according to people familiar with the deal. In March, Palin and Burnett sold her cable show to TLC for a reported $1 million per episode, of which Palin is said to take in about $250,000 for each of the eight installments.”

Noel Sheppard, writing at NewsBusters, notes that the article probably shocks some New York Times readers by saying some nice things about Palin: “Sherman had some remarkably positive things to say about Palin likely to the dismay of his largely New York City-based readership:  “Though Palin may not like it, she makes money for Democrats and Republicans alike. Across the political spectrum, Palin is a ratings magnet. Whenever she appears on Fox News, ratings tick up by 10 to 15 percent. At MSNBC, she’s also a ratings phenomenon, albeit with opposite adjectives. Tina Fey’s reprisal of her Palin character in early April juiced Saturday Night Live’s ratings, beating prime-time programming, a rare feat. Online, right-wing sites like the Drudge Report frequently plug Palin headlines, while Palin’s presence at liberal outlets like the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo routinely sparks hundreds of reader comments. During the campaign, people said she could be another Oprah, but now, in many ways, she’s bigger than Oprah, an empath for people who feel, rightly or wrongly, that America has forgotten them. “People are drawn to her,” says Fox News programming chief Bill Shine. “People look at her and say, ‘She has a bunch of the same troubles I do, there’s a mom who’s there changing diapers.’ Bigger than Oprah? Not what you would expect from New York Magazine, is it?”

Ian Lazaran, writing at Conservatives 4Palin, tries to lay out how Palin can make  a lot of money and have folks still applaud when she jabs at ‘elites’:  “That the left believes in this narrative shows how poorly they understand how conservatives/Republicans view wealth/money as opposed to elitism. The left is conflating wealth/money with elitism. No populist-leaning conservative/Republicans has any issue with wealth or money that is earned through the free market. Governor Palin has never criticized anyone for making too much money through the free market. In fact, one reason why conservatives and Republicans so aggressively support tax cuts for even the wealthiest Americans is that those who have excelled through the free market should not be punished for their success. What conservatives and Republicans like Governor Palin don’t support is elitism, which is the idea that someone with a particular educational background or a person who comes from a high social class is inherently graced with superior ideas and qualifications. Liberals like Sherman fail to understand the distinction between money/wealth and elitism. The former is something that conservatives and Republicans like Palin applaud. The latter is something that we denounce.”

Something I would note – the very top of the heap in the punditry/talking head world has become amazingly lucrative. (Speaking from the lower rungs, I can tell you, when it trickles down, it’s almost an actual trickle.) According to Forbes, Glenn Beck Inc. made $31 million last year, and only $2 million of that was from his Fox News television show. In some ways, this is good; if these folks can get network executives, publishers, and other media leaders with money to sign the big paychecks, they’ve earned them, and they ensure that no one who enthralls the conservative base will have to worry about money.

But perhaps the Palin precedent is a little worrisome in that private life is now so much more appealing and exponentially more lucrative than working in government and trying to change policies. When the next conservative rising star appears in a governorship, or in the Senate – hey look, Scott Brown has a book deal! – or in a state legislature or some other part of public life, the option of television punditry and paid-speech tours will look much, much more attractive than the hard slog of staying in public office and actually achieving things. Even the job of POTUS “only” pays $400,000 per year, but the perks are pretty good, considering you live in public housing.

The political world is already a playground for millionaires, and those few politicians earning “only” the modest six figures probably look on in envy at the millionaires and billionaires who surround them. When you look at the life of a person outside the system, but who retains enormous political influence – i.e. Palin – why would you want the grief that comes from being president or governor?

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