Tag Archives: sarah Palin

Celebrity Issue Advocacy is Politics

There is a great Politico article out that discusses the intertwined nature of celebrity and public office.  It is a rather complex article with some insightful analysis about how celebrities engage in the political realm and politicians who embrace celebrity endorsements.  One main point from the piece is about how celebrities are now taking up issue advocacy instead of running for public office.  This quote sums it up:

“To their credit, the lives they lead today is very different from their predecessors in the studio system [who had] managed lives, their images protected. … Very few people were aware of how tough it is and how incredibly hard and difficult it is to go through the day-to-day ardors of a campaign. … Maybe that’s why so many [politically active celebrities] come up to the water’s edge and decide not [to] jump in.”

Later, the piece quotes George Clooney about his decision not to run for office (which I thought was hilarious):

“I didn’t live my life in the right way for politics, you know,” he told Newsweek in 2011. “I f—-ked too many chicks and did too many drugs, and that’s the truth.”

While I agree with most of the points addressed in the article, I think it has a very narrow definition of “politics.”  The political science definition is “who gets what and how.”  Meaning, the entire process to move an issue forward is by definition a political action.  So, anytime a celebrity advocates for an issue, they are engaging in politics.  Issue advocacy by celebrities is not a new trend by any means.  During World War II, celebrities put forth propaganda to support the war effort for the U.S. government.  The U.N. has a vast library of celebrities endorsing numerous causes in the 1940-50s  The article mentions Ronald Reagan making a career of going after communists, but he also advocated against socialized medicine too.  Who can forget Jane Fonda going to North Vietnam  or the many writers and celebrities who visited the USSR?  Not to mention benefit concerts for HIV/AIDS, natural disaster relief, and cancer research.  These issues rose to prominence because of celebrity endorsements and can actually advance issues much faster culturally than any congressmen.

I would also add the rise of celebrity politician who leave office and become political stars of their own.  Sarah Palin is great example of this.  She left her post as governor after half a term and receiving notoriety from being John McCain’s running-mate in 2008.  Her personality and charisma have brought her numerous adoring fans and a very loyal following that has translated into a SuperPac that endorses candidates, two reality shows, and, until recently, a contract with Fox News.  Not to mention millions of Twitter and Facebook followers.   Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former House Majority Leader Dick Army have received large followings for books and political action groups.  Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have moved onto issue advocacy with their respective foundations.  I can go on.  While in office, these politicians certainly accomplished quite a bit, but I would argue their political capital has gone up even more since they left and their power has increased because of their supporters.

Celebrity is a very strong political force because there is very little accountability to constituents and mainly requires photo-ops and monetary donations to causes.  It’s a unilateral form of political action, except without all the bureaucracy.  It makes a lot of sense that celebrities and former politicians would embrace fame to advance causes for the common good.

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An Unflattering Portrayal of Palin

By John Stang

Conservative contrarian Andrew Sullivan lays the criticism of the former Governor of Alaska pretty thick:

Anyone with even the faintest grasp of Palin’s reality – including former close aides like Frank Bailey – understands that she is emotionally unstable, paranoid, vindictive, self-destructive, religiously fanatical and clinically deluded. Her “wonderful mothering” led her to take a tiny child with Down Syndrome and parade him in front of the cameras as a political prop, and later hauling him out half-naked at night to show off to fans on her book tour. None of her children has made it to college; one was a teenage vandal, another a teen mom. A man who lived in her house, says her children had to raise themselves. She quit office in mid-term because her vanity and rapacity were more important to her than public service. The victims of her vicious career lie strewn all over Alaska. Anyone faintly aware of reality also knows that John McCain was as cynical, brutal and expedient a figure as anyone to run for president – and that Palin’s selection was an act of such grotesque vanity and cynicism that it instantly disqualified him from the presidency.

I suspect the real truth about how this deranged, comic, vicious ignoramus nearly became a heartbeat away from the presidency will only be absorbed in the future, when we are not so close to the embarrassment.

Remember, this is just one interpretation of the story.  Depending on your ideological colors, the narrative could look very different.

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Filed under sarah palin

The Shame Game with Unborn Children

By John Stang

Most people would not touch this topic with a ten foot pole.  But this morning,  I saw Eugene Robinson on “Morning Joe” apologize for these comments he made about Rick Santorum’s child who died after having a fatal disease and a severe form of autism on the Rachel Maddow show:

“He’s not a little weird, he’s really weird,” Robinson said of Santorum. “And some of his positions that he has taken are just so weird that I think that some Republicans are off-put. Not everybody is not going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child. It was a body that they took home to kind of sleep with it, introduce it to the rest of the family. It’s a very weird story.”

No decision could be as difficult as taking home a child you know is about to die.  As someone who has never gone through that, I can never fully comprehend the weight one carries with that monumental decision.  In a similar situation, others would probably react the same way.  So, I would take objection to Robinson’s comment that it is not as weird as he thinks.

What is weird, however, is using your autistic child and saddenness of your child’s death to score some politic points and shame others who may not make the same decision that you do.  “If we could do it, then you can do it,” is a bullying technique that I find despicable.  You find it in the debate over poverty.  Usually when Mr. Average Joe who rose above it all comes out to talk about welfare.  He says, “I worked 3 jobs and took the bus 10 miles to each job, so why can’t other people who are poor do the same.”  That’s just it.  Not everyone is like you and is in the same circumstance.  Maybe they have disability or don’t have the strength to work 3 jobs and raise a family.  Having a little help never hurts.

The same can be applied to the abortion debate.  Not every family is as well off as Santorum’s family or have the emotional stamina to deal with it.  Maybe they, heaven forbid, think in a different ethical framework.  That is not hard to imagine given the difficulty of the situation.   It would make more sense to argue for stronger support systems for those that are trying to make that tough decision instead of guilting them into keeping the child.  Moreover, Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum are just trotting out these tearful stories to make political point about abortion or universal healthcare all in the name of scoring political points with the base.  For shame, for shame!

Before you start writing hate mail, let me point out that I am not saying autistic or mentally retarded (for those who like political correct terms, “mental retardation” is what is used in the DSM and is the clinical term, so I will use it instead of “mentally challenged”). children should die in the womb.  One of my best friends in college has a brother with autism, who is the happiest child in the world, and my best friend in high school had a sister with a rare from of mental retardation and died of cancer at a very young age.  For them and other families, it would be difficult to imagine a world without either of their siblings in it.   I refuse make a moral judgement against others who make a decision one way or another, that’s personal. It’s even worse if that pressure is made in the name of winning votes.

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Filed under 2012 Election, abortion, Rick Santorum