Sarah Palin may be the most scrutinized governor in the history of Alaska – a state that many Americans probably didn’t actually know was a real place up until last August. Her resignation has only stoked that attention – and as Stanley Fish wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, media coverage refuses to take her words at face value that she feels the political system is broken despite the era “hope” and “change” that was supposed to be ushered in last January.
Here are some economic facts worth considering: Ben Stein, the former Nixon speechwriter who gained fame as a bit player in John Hughes movies in the 80s, commanded $30,000 per speech when he hit the college speaking circuit for Young America’s Foundation a few years back. Palin could likely pull down $35,000-$40,000 a night speaking to packed college auditoriums. In other words, she could probably pull down the annual $125,000 salary of an Alaskan governor inside of a week. Not to mention that a wise PR director would make sure she had local TV and radio appearances. And this doesn’t even take into account corporate speaking engagements, which she could probably charge double or triple for.
It all adds up to a lot more than most 45-year-olds earn on a yearly basis – especially 45-year-olds with five kids and a grandchild. But there’s as many political reasons why her choice may be right for her as there are economic reasons. If you were Sarah Palin and had something to say about the state of the country, which would be a better platform for you – Governor of Alaska, a political office where you have constant legal challenges and criticisms, or giving speeches from coast to coast for a week or two a month, commenting on radio shows here and there, and writing books and opinion pieces? And if she wanted to start her own think tank or 527, there are plenty of people who would line up to give her money – her already well-supported PAC reported a spike in fundraising after her resignation.
Given that her first exposure to national politics resulted in a steady drumbeat of opposing voices calling her a dolt at best and an unfit mother at worst, this may be the avenue to engage in the national debate on her own terms – and to reposition herself if she wants to make a future run for the Presidency (which, incidentally, only pays about $400,000).
“Politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it,” said Palin on Good Morning America – reflecting the candor which attracts her most dedicated followers. She may not want to get back into the fray of electoral politics, but Palin is far from politically dead.