Shortly after Republicans swept last November to a historic victory in which Sarah Palin was credited with playing a central role, the former Alaska governor pulled aside her close aide, Rebecca Mansour, to discuss a hush-hush assignment: Reach out to conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon with a request. Ask him if he would make a series of videos extolling Palin’s governorship and laying to rest lingering questions about her controversial decision to resign from office with a year-and-a-half left in her first term. It was this abdication, Palin knew, that had made her damaged goods in the eyes of some Republicans who once were eager to get behind her potential 2012 presidential campaign.
The response was more positive than Palin could have hoped for. He’d make a feature-length movie, Bannon told Mansour, and he insisted upon taking complete control and financing it himself — to the tune of $1 million.
The fruits of that initial conversation are now complete. The result is a two-hour-long, sweeping epic, a rough cut of which Bannon screened privately for Sarah and Todd Palin last Wednesday in Arizona, where Alaska’s most famous couple has been rumored to have purchased a new home.
The film is set to premiere in, you guessed it, Iowa, which means there is a good chance she is entering the race for the GOP nomination for President. Now, we must ask a few questions about the wisdom of this move.
1) Why a movie?
If Sarah Palin has any negatives, and she has many, one of the biggest is that she shies away from tough interviews. Her appearances are largely limited to friendly rallies, Sean Hannity, Greta van Sustern, Twitter and Facebook (where people can’t answer back). Does she really think that resorting to the ultimate one-sided conversation (a movie) to get her story out is going to help dispel the image of someone who is afraid of tough interviews?
2) Why now and not, say, 2009?
Sarah Palin was treated very badly in the 2008 election (and after). Shamefully bad, actually. However misrepresented she feels by her popular image as an unserious, intellectually incurious attention seeker. However unfair she feels the narrative applied to her decision to resign her office was, she has had over two years to set the record straight and she has not done so. For the past two years she has done nothing to prove she’s not what people said she was. This is a little late in the game for people to shed their longstanding image of Sarah Palin. And we do not think they are going to want to pay $10 for the privilege.
3) Who will see this film?
Well, she has Facebook friends. There’s that. Even if you remove the thousands who only “subscribe” or “like” (or whatever it’s called) in order to read her gaffe-prone ramblings in real time I guess there are a million or two. But those people were always going to vote for her. As of March 11 of this year Palin was viewed as “unfavorable” by 60% of all adults with 38% viewing her “very unfavorably according to a Bloomberg poll. This film, which sounds like the epitome of self indulgence, is not going to help. It may do even more damage.
This may be a case where Sarah Palin has bought into her own fans’ hype. But a vanity film may only serve to reinforce the image that she’s less concerned about the United States’ best interests than she is with her own. In the end, we believe this film will not do enough to convince the electorate that Sarah Palin is a serious contender for the Presidency.