By Myra Adams
According to the latest polls, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s political popularity trajectory is heading south. It was inevitable given our 24/7 fame-obsessed culture which feeds on new personalities and controversy to fuel the celebrity media machine.
Once Sarah Palin resigned from her office as Alaska governor, she left that respected “higher platform” reserved for our elected leaders and crossed over into celebrity jungle.
There, she willingly subjected herself to the unforgiving forces of media pop culture, where the masses are easily bored. And now, without a new hit show, movie, book, clothing line, charity cause, or fragrance, Palin is vying for the same celebrity space as Lady Gaga and Charlie Sheen. And worse for her, according to the Washington Post, Palin “rarely seems to break through into the national dialogue.”
Since her successful 2009 launch into the media pop culture, Palin’s “brand” has remained essentially the same and her fan base has not widened. Now after two years in the celebrity maelstrom, as her star is starting to flicker, she must do what all celebrities need do to stay on top: re-invent herself. Otherwise, Sarah Palin appears destined for a twirl on Dancing with the Stars during the 2013 season.
There is no doubt that in these past two years former Palin has had a good run. Consider her list of accomplishments: Fox News contributor, best-selling author, a reality TV show, success as a political fundraiser, champion of conservative causes, Tea Party leader, a bold critic of President Obama, a master of social media, and a “kingmaker” in the 2010 midterm elections — while the question of will she or won’t she run for president swirled around her like an Iowa tornado.
Certainly Palin’s bank account is the ultimate beneficiary, with a ripple effect reaching daughter Bristol’s account as well.
But the question remains: is Sarah Palin’s expiration date about up?
Surely there is that potential, not only from a read of the latest polls but because the media has now glommed onto Sarah Palin 2.0 — otherwise known as Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Unlike Palin, Bachmann is actively running for president, not just hinting, flirting, and teasing. She says she will decide officially in June.
But even more than Bachmann, Palin is being pushed aside by “The Donald,” who has earned a PhD in fame and self-promotion.
Donald Trump is a case study for celebrity staying power as he enters his fourth decade in the public eye. Trump is a master of the art of re-invention — and Sarah Palin should take notes.
Now that Trump is full throttle into “thinking about running for president,” the press is going along for the ride with all Donald, all the time coverage.
This issue has the capacity to drive the mainstream media over the edge and potentially set up the celebrity smackdown of the 21st century: Obama vs. Trump.
Donald Trump, unlike Sarah Palin, is an established American brand on par with Coke or Goodyear. So there is only so much the press can do to denigrate him without looking foolish themselves. But Trump knows how to use the media; he barks, they bite, he bites back, then barks louder and makes more headlines.
All the recent coverage he has generated about Obama’s birth certificate is a perfect example of Trump’s media savvy, demonstrating just how well he plays the press.
Trump also has the advantage of not giving a hoot what the media says about him. He has an almost uncanny ability to rise above the media. He’s got the power. He knows it and so does the media.
Palin, on the other hand, is more sensitive about her media image since she is still trying to shore up her brand, being relatively new to the pop culture scene.
Like Palin, Trump has many critics in and outside of the media, but the difference between them is Trump will not fade away. He is a master of the game.
Staying power is part of the personal power he wields as a billionaire businessman, A-list celebrity, and overall American idol.
America loves watching Trump because we all know, win or lose, “The Donald” will find a way to always come out on top. He has the will to succeed at all costs with the muscle to back it up.
One could say he represents all of us (or at least what some of us wish we could be). And we are confident that if Trump decides not to run for president he will carve out a new role, or create a new show, or find a new issue to keep him front and center.
Meanwhile, Palin had been relegated to the sidelines by Trump-mania. Exhibit A was Palin’s response to all of Trump’s birther publicity.
Palin only managed to gain press attention by saying she “appreciates” Trump weighing in on this issue, a toxic topic from which she had previously steered clear.
Then, as if she realized her influence was fading, Palin this past weekend made what looked like a comeback attempt, giving a “feisty anti-establishment speech” at a rally in Wisconsin. Will this appearance and all the subsequent media coverage be enough to thrust her back into the national dialogue?
Sarah Palin’s decline in the polls as a political figure is not due to the last two years of media over-exposure. Instead, as many political strategists believe, she has neglected to educate herself and become a leading expert on the boring issues of the day (à la Hillary).
Because Palin has failed to do so, Palin herself has become the issue.Moving forward, the most important career decision Sarah Palin needs to make is to decide whether she is going to be a political figure or a media celebrity.
If Palin is to have a long career in the public eye, she needs to take a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook: re-invent herself now and decide who she wants to be in the future.
Perhaps she should work with Trump and develop a hit TV talk/game show, or go back to Alaska and run for the U.S. Senate. Now is the time to choose because she cannot be both political leader and media celebrity much longer.
Taking either of these paths ensures that Palin will have a safe platform as an elected office holder or in a reliable 4:00pm daily time slot.
Then she could leave the pop culture jungle to masters like Donald Trump.
Myra Adams is a media producer, writer and political observer, who served on the McCain Ad Council during the 2008 McCain campaign, and on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team. Her columns have appeared on The Daily Caller and as a co-writer on The Daily Beast. Myra’s web site TheJesusStore.com contributes all profits to Christian charity. Follow@MyraKAdams on Twitter.