Opinion: Palin stars in reality TV. Lights, camera, White House?


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It would be tempting to write off Sarah Palin‘s latest money-making adventure as the end of an inglorious political career.

Word is the former Alaska governor and onetime Republican vice presidential candidate will star in her own reality TV show -- ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska.’ Discovery Channel is reportedly paying Palin more than $1 million per episode. As Washington Post TV critic Lisa de Moraes put it, Palin -- a bestselling author and Fox News contributor -- will serve as a ‘sort of modern-day Sacagawea’ who will guide viewers toward the ‘characters, tradition and attractions in the 49th state.’


But before Palin detractors get too excited, consider, as Al Gore might put it, a few inconvenient facts.

First, Palin astutely avoided a reality TV show about her family. Imagine how much she could have gotten pitching ‘The Palins,’ featuring her teenage-mom daughter Bristol, her Playgirl-posing almost son-in-law Levi, her First Dude husband Todd. ‘If it was ‘The Osbournes,’ and they were going to follow the family, then it would be interesting,’ one broadcast exec said in explaining why his network passed. ‘It’s a travelogue about the state of Alaska.’

Second, she is still planning to be a major force -- if no longer an officeholder -- in politics. In fact, Tuesday night she posted on her Facebook page a list of 20 Democrats she plans to target in the 2010 elections. ‘Come November, we’re going to print pink slips for members of Congress as fast as they’ve been printing money,’ she wrote.

Planning to endorse and stump for Republican candidates, Palin can, with a simple e-mail, unleash a powerful lobby of supporters. Wisconsin Republican Sean Duffy says Palin’s endorsement of his campaign for Congress was ‘like a ‘Game On!’ moment.’

Finally, there have been stranger routes to the White House. Ronald Reagan hosted General Electric Theater back in the 1950s and ‘60s, and traveled the country as a goodwill ambassador for the company, touring GE plants, which former First Lady Nancy Reagan credits with launching his public career. Woodrow Wilson was a college professor. And then there is this guy named Barack Obama, who started as a community organizer.

That said, no one has ever reached the White House after quitting their job as an elected official.


-- Johanna Neuman

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