The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  This Just In

Sarah Palin, Inc.

The biggest brand name in conservative politics is about to enter the burgeoning right-wing marketplace — and she's perfect for it. Ka-ching!
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  July 17, 2009


From Jester to Esther: Sarah Palin sees self as a religious legend, not a political football. By David S. Bernstein.
When earlier this month Sarah Palin abruptly announced her intention to resign as governor of Alaska — barely midway through her four-year term — the political punditry was left puzzling over what she could possibly do next. If Palin was not in office, nor actively campaigning for election, how could she remain relevant, influential, and, of course, paid?

Those confused commenters have no clue as to the opportunities that await Palin — because few understand the extraordinary, multi-billion-dollar marketplace that has developed for movement conservatives.

The Phoenix reviewed the most recently available financial reports of some 250 conservative-advocacy groups and political-action committees; their combined gross revenues totaled more than $2 billion. And that's only the major players, in just the nonprofit portion of the industry.

No wonder the father of Palin's grandchild, Levi Johnston, told reporters that the governor is quitting "to take some of this money people had been offering."

Palin is poised to be the hottest brand to ever hit that market. And her entry is beautifully timed.

Thanks to the election of Barack Obama and a heavily Democratic Congress, the conservative industry is, despite the recession, experiencing boom times. Books declaring that Democrats are unleashing "statism" and "socialism" — by Mark R. Levin and Dick Morris, respectively — have dominated the bestseller lists. Rush Limbaugh is enjoying record listenership. Over the past three months, every one of the 10 most-watched daily programs on cable news belonged to the right-wing Fox News Channel (FNC). Political interest usually peaks during a presidential campaign year, but FNC has actually improved its ratings this year — in part by playing more directly to the right wing, by ditching Sean Hannity's liberal co-anchor, and by adding froth-mouthed Glenn Beck to its daily line-up.

"The idea that politics or the presidency is [Palin's] only aim is wrong," says Julian Zelizer, a professor at Princeton University who studies the conservative movement. "Rush Limbaugh doesn't run for office."

There are at least 10 million people who could be called true "movement conservatives" in America today — perhaps twice that number, including conservative and libertarian independents, along with "base" Republicans. They are not only reading and tuning in — they are contributing to conservative nonprofit organizations and political-action committees; they are attending conferences; they are buying paraphernalia; and they are signing up for e-mail newsletters and online publications.

But the analysts, thinking only of Palin's presidential prospects, are missing all of this. They are accustomed to paying attention to how people vote, not how they spend.

"We tend to think of the Republican conservative electorate," says Zelizer. "There's also this vibrant marketplace that's been built up over the past 30 years, and it can be quite lucrative."

Put another way, "There are people on the right who have learned how to milk the right wing for all it's worth," says Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at the liberal People for the American Way. "They have yet to find the bottom of this well of right-wing money that drives the creation of all these right-wing organizations."

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |   next >
Related: Rise of the political bogeyman, Night of the living dead, Travels with Sarah, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Rush Limbaugh,  More more >
| More
Add Comment
HTML Prohibited

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 02/07 ]   Gang of Four + Hollerado  @ Paradise Rock Club
[ 02/07 ]   "New England Poetry Club: Love Poems Reading"  @ Harvard Yenching Library
[ 02/07 ]   Robb Waters: "Strange Faces"  @ Zuzu
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE GOP'S TOP DOG? IT'S T-PAW, NOT MITT.  |  February 05, 2011
    Whatever the reason, the field of Republican presidential candidates is failing to form, just a year away now Iowa and New Hampshire voting in the nation's first presidential caucus and primary.
    The practical result of the new spirit of political civility is still an open question, but there is one area where small-government conservatives and do-gooder liberals might really be moving toward significant policy agreement, compromise, and action: criminal-justice reform.
    Two days before Saturday's horrific shooting in Tucson, Arizona, which gravely wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and left six people dead, a woman disrupted the reading of the US Constitution on the floor of the US House of Representatives by loudly appealing to Jesus to intercede against the foreign-born usurper of the presidency, Barack Obama.
  •   BERNSTEIN BROTHERS HANDICAP GOP 2012  |  January 07, 2011
    Bernstein & Bernstein on Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, and the rest of the 2012 gang.
  •   THE ROAD TO 2012: THE NEW NEW HAMPSHIRE  |  December 29, 2010
    For Mitt Romney and other likely presidential contenders, 2011 will be a busy year of campaigning and preparation for the first caucuses and primaries of the nominating process in early 2012.

 See all articles by: DAVID S. BERNSTEIN

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group