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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dancing to the Iowa Caucuses?

It’s become fairly commonplace to observe that Sarah Palin’s political influence is based on a mastery of contemporary media, from Fox to Facebook, or that her celebrity is more akin to that of a television star than a garden-variety pol. But who knew we’d see such a literal validation of these judgements so soon?
Sarah Palin’s new reality show on TLC is a ratings phenomenon for the basic cable channel. Meanwhile, her daughter Bristol has made the finals of the major network favorite, Dancing With the Stars, despite relatively poor marks from the professional judges on the show. Bristol has not only learned to dance this year; she’s also picked up some of her mother’s talent for turning criticism into populist resentment, viz. her bitter complaints about suggestions that her mother’s fans are stuffing the ballot box to keep her on the show.
Meanwhile, we hear the first credible report that Palin (mother, not daughter) is seriously considering a presidential run for 2012.
Well, why wouldn’t she? She’s already broken all the rules for advancement in politics by resigning her one major office in order to focus on her television and personal appearances career, without consequences. A significant minority of Americans (including perhaps a majority of very active conservative Republicans) appear to identify with her so viscerally that every mistep she makes becomes just another opportunity to shake a fist at her detractors. A presidential run, if it failed, would provide material for books, movies and testimonials lasting for decades (tales of the disrespect she had to put up with in 2008 are getting a little stale, after all).
I can’t imagine what it’s like in the media celebrity bubble where Palin now resides, but it doesn’t strike me as a place where a decent sense of proportion or gritty political realism is very prevelant. So yes, she’ll probably run, and those who can’t bear the sight and sound of her had better settle down for a long and painful ride.

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