New York magazine’s cover story on Sarah Palin is dispiriting for a different reason than most of the stories about her. Gabriel Sherman makes a pretty convincing case that Sarah has morphed into Brand Sarah and made herself very rich. She now charges $100,000 a speech (although she sometimes cuts special deals with Christian groups, the saint). She just signed a second book deal, after the first one was a smashing success, and she and her daughter Bristol both have new cars. She is building herself an office with a panoramic view and has officially left the middle class.
Of course, presidents have made themselves rich off of book deals and speeches (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush). But Sarah Palin was not president, except, as Sherman says, of Right-Wing America. She is getting rich and famous on her way to becoming president. This is very different from what, say, Ronald Reagan did-turn an acting career into a successful political one. This is a whole different order of breakdown between celebrity and politics that will make it truly impossible to know what about her is real and what is play-acting. Watching her campaign will now be like watching a third season of the Real Housewives or Snookie after Jersey Shore aired, where the beast created by the cameras has mated with the actual person and become a third order of indecipherable beast. The most depressing detail in the story: She and the Johnstons (Levi Johnston is the father of Bristol’s child), who are always warring through the tabloids, are actually friends! They realize, writes Sherman, that they are both “actors on the same stage.”
Photograph of Sarah Palin by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.