How Does Sarah Palin Make Millions While Saying Some of the Dumbest Things Imaginable?
You've got to hand it to Sarah Palin. She is nothing if not devoted to spouting her tired, nutty talking points. Indeed, it doesn't matter what's happening in the world, Palin will deliver what the right-wing masses want to hear, especially if they're paying big bucks for it -- which they usually are.
In her latest gig, the Tea Party darling has truly outdone herself. On Saturday, in a speech to a Republican crowd gathered in Kansas City, Palin declared that off-shore drilling will be the linchpin in the United States' efforts to achieve energy security and overall prosperity.
Talk about bad timing.
Since April 20, British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil rig has been spilling oil into the Gulf Coast at a rate of 5,000 barrels a day. Already, the spill is about the size of Puerto Rico. This environmental disaster is expected to ultimately be much worse than the last big oil spill, caused by Exxon Valdez in 1989 off the coast of Alaska, Palin's very own home state.
You almost want to hope against hope that Palin hadn't heard of Deepwater Horizon yet before she started harping about off-shore drilling as the solution to our nation's problems this weekend, but she actually referred to it -- calling it "very tragic" before adding: "I want our country to be able to trust the oil industry." Fantastic.
Ladies and gentlemen, is Sarah Palin a performance artist, an incredibly shrewd businesswoman or just very dense and lucky? Signs points to all of the above.
Her commitment to saying exactly what right-wingers want to hear -- reality is always extraneous -- has made her a very wealthy woman. Palin has become a business and brand unto herself, even as what she says almost always defies logic or is merely a less-elegant regurgitation of the talking points available nightly on Fox News or on the crazy end of the AM radio dial.
Ever since she appeared on the national stage as John McCain's disastrous but highly-entertaining running mate, Palin's special ilk of folksiness and unlearnedness has resonated deeply with many Americans. And when she saw the White House slip away, going back to her lame job as governor of Alaska didn't seem good enough. Moreover, when she got back to Wasilla, she faced $500,000 in bills from the "Troopergate" scandal, something her $125,000 job wasn't going to cover.
According to Palin observers, since quitting her job in Juneau she has gone on to amass a $12 million fortune. And then you have to add in the stupefying success of her auto-biographical book, which sold 2.2 million copies and has earned her a second book deal with HarperCollins. Palin also made $1 million when she signed a three-year contributor deal with Fox News this January, and she'll be making another $250,000 for each of the eight episodes of her TLC show, which to environmentalists' chagrin will focus on Alaska's unrivaled wilderness.
Although her first foray into television, "Real American Stories" on Fox News, was universally panned and didn't attract all that many viewers, Palin hasn't painted herself into the television corner. In fact, she's one of the highest-paid speakers on the lecture circuit. Earlier this year, she made headlines when it was revealed that the Tea Party had paid her $100,000 to speak at their first convention in Nashville. That's only $50,000 less than George W. Bush commands for "motivational" seminars these days -- and he actually got to the White House.
While Palin has not outright declared an intent to run for president in 2012, she has flirted with the idea, joking with Sean Hannity that a Sarah Palin-Michelle Bachmann ticket "sounds kind of cool." But her career choices don't seem to be aimed at running for office likely because that's not the way to get rich. And so while other Republican hopefuls like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are seriously gearing up to challenge Obama in a couple years, Palin is going after stardom, having learned that politics -- particularly right-wing politics -- can be monetized.
After all, being President of the United States can be kind of lame, what with all that work. Plus, it pays only $400,000 a year.