Republican Governor Sarah Palin may be packing this week in order to leave the Alaska governor's mansion, but she isn't going to exit from public life. Neither are her policies disappearing, any more than is the large constituency she appeals to leaving the scene with its jingoism, Cold War symbolism, proclivity toward economic protectionism and lack of sophistication about business, banking or regulatory reform.
Sarah Palin is the Michael Jackson of politics and my prediction is that she will end up in the media. Her next gig should be as a Fox Network anchor with her own prime time slot, so that she can interview public figures, preachers and celebrities. Alternately, she should host an afternoon show and become America's rightwing Oprah. Or she could go lower down the food chain as the hostess of a show on some religious cable company.
But to me, she and Fox are made for each other.
She would be instantly bankable ratings for the network with its blowhard hosts and self-selected audience of God-fearing Republicans who have made up their minds on just about everything and everyone.
Polls show that a huge swack of American people love Sarah's policy reductionism - good versus evil, American versus un-American. They also don't want to be confused with nuances or the messy grey bits between black-and-white thinking.
Her appeal may be hard for Canadians, Europeans and others to understand, but not for pollsters. The election results revealed that her candidacy actually closed the yawning gap in support between Obama and McCain, according to a McCain insider I spoke with recently. Put another way, he said that McCain would have been even more embarrassingly trounced by Obama if she hadn't joined the team.
So why is she quitting politics, the governorship?
The Sarah Redo
She's quitting to get out from under the fact that the Republican establishment has closed ranks on her and the media has also turned against her. While she still gets more than her fair share of attention, her pursuers have deteriorated from members of the White House press corps all the way down to pay cheque journalists, or paparazzi, who work for scandal sheets.
Some speculate she's leaving public life because a major controversy involving her personal or professional life looms and she's getting out while the getting's good.
That may be true but the continuing, if negative, ability to generate or attract publicity is why Sarah isn't going anywhere. My guess is that this hugely ambitious woman is getting out, not to avert another scandal or to spend more time with her family, but to reposition her brand then swap her backwater power base for influence in the big time.
From Hickdom to Bright Lights
By landing a media gig in New York or LA, she would have a chance to catapult her brand beyond all other potential candidates. It would also make her rich because she will join the lucrative book and speaking engagement circuit south of the border that goes along with having a high media profile.
By the way, this would also mark a return to her early roots. She dropped out of several universities after high school while trying to earn a journalism degree. At some point, she worked briefly as a television reporter before becoming a mother and housewife.
Sarah is a good performer and telegenic. Of course, this is no guarantee of success in the media and there's a big chance that she could also bomb out as her loopy notions and puny worldview become obvious in the unscripted setting of a studio.
Whatever happens, she is not going to be content with her nearly 12 months' of fame. She is a professional publicity hound and in an era of TV ratings' desperation, and celebrity worship, she remains a political force at home and abroad with whom to reckon.
Diane blogs at Financial Post
Follow Diane Francis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@dianefrancis1