Monday, April 26, 2010

Palin's Shelf-life

Just some follow up on the Palin story from last night:

Palin's celebrity is largely based on her potential to one day be President. Her celebrity and earning power declines as this potential diminishes. Under these circumstances, Palin was at her most powerful (and potentially lucrative) the day John McCain introduced her as his running mate. Since then, however, her approval numbers have steadily declined. Given that her entire shtick is to stay true to core values and principles, it's highly unlikely that she will in any way evolve beyond her current pithy provocations and rote conservative talking points.

Basically, Sarah Palin as a consumer product has a shelf-life.

Our guess is that the upper end of her expiration date is between six and eight years. Why that long? Because her fans will forgive her for not getting into the 2012 race for the White House for any number of reasons -- bad electoral year, liberal media blah blah blah, family issues, etc. -- but when she doesn't show up to run in 2016, even her biggest supporters will notice her window has closed.

Every year between now and then her song and dance will get a little older, more predictable and will mean a little less. She may cater to a consumer that values brand loyalty above all else, but she can't play herself off as an anti-establishment figure from inside the establishment year after year before folks start to look for another "rogue."

Of course, if she does run in either 2012 or 2016 and loses, then it's game over.

Sarah Palin will never be President -- no matter how worried Andrew Sullivan might be of the possibility . The more people get to know her, the more they come to realize that. This means that she has a short amount of time to make as much money as possible as quickly as she can. That means as many $100,000 a pop speeches as she can schedule, as many TV opportunities as come her way, book deals, etc.

It's a good place to be in a lot of ways, and there's definitely a possibility that as the media environment continues to segregate into thinner niches that she'll find an audience that won't tire of her. But there's very little inclination she's willing to play by anyone's rules but her own and at some point in time her value as a commodity won't be worth the trouble in catering to the wishes of others. When that happens she'll finally recede into the background like so many other VP runners-up before her.

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