Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’
Sarah Palin talks a lot about the tea party.
On Fox News last week, she said, “I find inspiration in tea party patriots [and] those with common sense who aren’t playing a lot of games.”
She could be considered the tea party’s godmother. With her Sarah PAC and support for 2010 tea party candidates, Palin has generated a lot of good will, not to mention publicity, for a movement that began only two years ago. She also isn’t afraid to attack popular Republicans such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Further proof that Palin isn’t always a GOP team player: She is skipping the first GOP primary debate on May 2 to give a keynote address, “Tribute to the Troops with Sarah Palin,” at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. Some take this as a sure sign, along with her tanking poll numbers in key places like Iowa, that Palin will not seek the White House in 2012.
Could Palin, ever the rogue, be concocting a different plan?
What if Palin is building a grassroots army of patriots to help her undertake this mission? Palin, unlike any failed vice presidential candidate before her, has taken an opportunity and spun it into a gold mine. But to remain relevant in a crowded 2012 field of attention-seeking veteran politicians, Palin may have to make an unconventional move.
Although third-party candidates seldom win in America’s two-party system, they can certainly rain on political parades. At the same time, they can help down-ballot candidates by getting voters to the polls who might otherwise stay at home.
Palin certainly has many of the qualities of a third-party candidate – charismatic and passionate, with a status as an outsider intent on storming the barricades of the establishment.
Consider previous candidates with engaging and controversial personalities who attempted to carve their own path to the Oval Office.
Larger-than-life Theodore Roosevelt ran on his Bull Moose Party ticket in 1912. He won 27.4 percent of the popular vote and carried six states, totaling 88 electoral votes. Roosevelt’s candidacy split the Republican vote, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election.
In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat segregationist, a major draw in Southern states. Former Democratic governor George Wallace of Alabama ran in 1968 on the American Independent Party line. He remains the only third-party candidate since 1948 to win a state.
Ronald Reagan didn’t face just Jimmy Carter. He also had to run against John Anderson, who had run in the crowded Republican primary. When it looked certain that Reagan would win, Anderson jumped to an independent candidacy. He received support from Rockefeller Republicans, author Gore Vidal, television sitcom creator Norman Lear and even the editors of “The New Republic.”
One of the most prominent third-party candidates, perhaps, is Ross Perot. With his charts and nasal voice, he became a household name and the star of many “Saturday Night Live” skits, with Dana Carvey playing Perot. The billionaire Texan threw a wrench into George H.W. Bush’s re-election bid against Bill Clinton. He finished second in two states – Utah, ahead of Clinton, and Maine, ahead of Bush. Perot won 18.9 percent of the popular vote but no electoral votes.
He gave it another shot in 1996, but with lesser impact, on the Reform Party ticket. He garnered 8 percent of the popular vote.
Ralph Nader has run four times for president – twice as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000 and twice as an independent, in 2004 and 2008.
For Palin to run as a tea party candidate, it would require money and keen organization. To become a legitimate third party, as opposed to its current status as a movement, the tea party would face a series of steep obstacles it likely could not scale by 2012.
For example, each state has its own ballot-access laws. Some states simply require a filing fee, but others have complex petition-gathering requirements for a party to become established, purposely aimed at keeping third parties off the ballot and protecting the elevated status of the major parties.
And the tea party isn’t showing any effort to become established.
That’s because the Republicans have figured out, for now, how to please the tea party.
“The tea party potentially forming a third-party movement would happen if they become completely disgusted with the Republicans,” said Dr. Jim Broussard, professor of history at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.”That doesn’t seem likely now. Both in Washington and at the state level, most Republicans have figured out what people sent them to do.”
But what if the 2012 Republican nominee, maybe Mitt Romney or outgoing China ambassador Jon Huntsman, isn’t a tea party darling? Palin could emerge as the conservative populist alternative. Her best bet then would be to align with an established third party such as the Reform Party, like Pat Buchanan did in 2000, or run as an independent.
One downside of running as an independent? Absolutely no structure to rely on for support. But Palin already has a built-in voter, and fan, base. She has more than 2.7 million Facebook fans and 439,000 Twitter followers. She raises millions through her PAC, and gets massive media coverage from one tweet. She would likely have no problem covering the filing fees to get on the ballots in various states. Palin could use her social media tentacles to gather signatures on petitions in states that require such.
Politico has reported that she could set up a presidential base in Arizona. That might be the perfect spot to launch an independent bid. The tea party recently held a summit in the state, which Palin did not attend but endorsed. It’s also the state where Barry Goldwater revamped the modern-day conservative movement in the 1960s. Palin, in turn, could revolutionize the status of the independent candidate in Sen. John McCain’s back yard without playing by the Iowa and New Hampshire game.
Matthew Kerbel, professor of political science at Villanova University, said, “Her history suggests she would relish the opportunity to run without having to do the heavy lifting of campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, and she would certainly want her supporters to come to her and demand that she run.”
Then again, Kerbel says, “She may be the first candidate in history to run for president in order to preserve their place as a pop culture figure.”
[Originally published on Politics Daily, March 9, 2011]
Arizona — with its battles over immigration and its liberal gun laws – has become something of a poster child for the anti-government movement.
Which is why the Tea Party Patriots, the largest tea party group in the country, will hold their American Policy Summit at the Phoenix Convention Center Feb. 25-27.
The Tea Party Patriots, which claim more than 3,000 locally organized chapters and more than 15 million supporters nationwide, state on their summit website that they picked Phoenix because the state’s tea party invited them and also to support Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s immigration reforms, which have been challenged by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“Arizonans have been under a lot of pressure this past year in regards to their immigration reforms,” the website says. “When surveyed, you said you support the changes that Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona legislature implemented. Going to Arizona for this American Policy Summit is a way to show support to those who implemented these changes.”
Arizona’s Wild West rebellion shows no signs of letting up.
On Monday, a proposal was being heard in the Arizona Legislature that would require hospitals to confirm whether patients are in the country legally. No other state has such legislation.
Earlier this month, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce introduced a bill in the Legislature that would allow a 12-person committee to vote on when federal law applies to Arizona. It includes “federal statutes, mandates, and executive orders.”
If the panel made a recommendation, the Legislature would then take a vote. If majority voted so, then nullification of the law could occur, according to bill sponsors.
The summit will focus on “Five Pathways to Liberty” — education, politics, courts, economics and culture, which will include repealing federal legislation, reforming health care, debating Fair Tax versus Flat Tax and gun rights.
The group’s Facebook page, with over 500,000 followers, has been focused on an array of topics, including making sure “FORMER Speaker Pelosi’s ‘Green the Capitol’ initiative doesn’t destroy America’s free market!”
On the summit’s website, Sarah Palin, who isn’t confirmed as a speaker, says in a promotional blurb for the event: “This summit offers a terrific opportunity for true American Patriots to hear from experts on issues like lowering taxes, balancing the budget and repealing Obamacare.”
Coincidentally, Palin’s daughter, Bristol, recently bought a house in a Phoenix suburb.
Who’s on the agenda? CPAC straw poll winner Rep. Ron Paul, media publisher Andrew Breitbart, 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain, a host of conservative pundits such as Dick Morris, and a handful of Republican congressmen, including Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall.
Arizona Democrats say the state is a predictable locale for the convention considering the current political environment there.
“The Tea Party Summit will find plenty of camaraderie at Arizona’s state Capitol, where Senate President Russell Pearce has dubbed his own chamber the ‘Tea Party Senate,’” says Jennifer Johnson, communication director for the Arizona Democratic Party. “Unfortunately, as Arizona’s economy sinks further, the Russell Pearce Republicans are busy introducing birther bills, federal nullification bills and 14th Amendment bills that undermine the idea that any child born in America is as American as anyone else. Today in Arizona, Democrats represent Arizona’s mainstream, while the Russell Pearce Republicans represent only the extreme.”
The Arizona Republican Party could not be reached for comment, nor could organizers for the Tea Party Summit, which is not listed on the GOP calendar of events, although plenty of tea party meetings are.
The summit comes at a time when a battle rages between parties for voters, especially in light of last week’s announcement by Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl that he would not seek re-election.
No party registration is required in Arizona, and the state is essentially divided into thirds – one-third Republican, one-third Democrats and the other third independents. Democrats say the only Democrats who can survive politically in Arizona are strong centrists like Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who served as the state’s governor for six years.
With success in the 2010 midterms, the tea party now finds itself in a place other political groups, such as the Know Nothing Party of the 1800s, have in the past – charting a future that stays relevant in 2012.
“The tea party of today must do as good of a job organizing its internal rank and file as it has in organizing protest rallies,” says Dr. Ravi K. Perry, Ph.D., director of Race and Ethnic Relations Concentration at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
Perry says that the party will have to have leadership that rebukes the fringe elements of the party. “The tea party will want to frame their agenda not solely about 2012 or anti-liberal policies or anti-Obama,” Perry says. “To create a lasting purpose, one that may truly make the group earn the status of a movement, a broader agenda must be sought.”
Santorum told reporters after speaking at CPAC Thursday afternoon that it’s all good with Palin. “I’ve had exchanges with Sarah Palin not not for public record, and there is no problem between Sarah Palin and me on this issue,” CNN’s Political Ticker reported.
“We are fine. No problem,” Santorum said. “We’ve had exchanges” through an intermediary.
Just last night the former Alaska governor had her claws out on national TV.
In classic Palin fashion, she knocked down the potential presidential candidate a peg or two in speaking about her absence at this year’s CPAC, which began Thursday in Washington.
“I think the reports were much worse than what [Santorum] really said,” Palin said on the Fox News show “Hannity.” “I think some things were really taken out of context. So I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him. I’ll let his wife call him that instead.”
She continued, “I think maybe he’s uninformed as to why it is I can’t make it to another political speech in a couple of weeks. As I’ve explained, February is our busiest winter month and . . . just because I am a mom that does not mean I did not want to be there.”
Earlier this week, Santorum told conservative pundit S.E. Cupp in an interview for GlennBeck.com that he didn’t know why Palin wasn’t appearing at CPAC — but he hinted that it might have something to do with business opportunities and family. The remarks were deemed sexist by some.
“I have a feeling she has some demands on her time . . . and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them,” he said. “So I am sure she is doing what is best for her and her family.”
He continued, “I’m not the mother to all of these kids and I don’t have other responsibilities like she has.”
Immediately after Palin’s comment on “Hannity,” Santorum responded on another Fox News show, “On the Record w/Greta Van Susteren,” saying that he was not “knocking” Palin. He said that she was a great spokesperson for the causes they believe in and both have children with disabilities.
It’s not like Palin has been a regular at CPAC. She has skipped the event for the last three years. David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union (which sponsors the gathering), and Palin have an ongoing feud.
Santorum, who is scheduled to speak at the event Thursday afternoon, served as a Pennsylvania senator from 1995 to 2007. He lost his 2006 reelection bid to Bob Casey Jr. Both he and Palin are toying with a 2012 presidential run.
The Iowa Republican website has called Santorum a “rising” candidate.
“There will be a huge void created if Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin don’t run in 2012, and those votes could easily go to a candidate like Santorum,” the website reports.
Are appearances at makeup and skin-care events proper platforms for a presidential candidate?
Probably not, but these days one can’t take anything for granted.
Take Sharron Angle, for example. After making a credible attempt to unseat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada last fall, the tea party favorite could be gearing up for a White House run. She was in Iowa recently, attending the premiere of “The Genesis Code,” a film featuring former presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
And prior to that? On Jan. 21, she appeared at a makeup and skin-care event with Joni Rogers-Kante, founder and CEO of SeneGence International in Las Vegas. At that “girlfriend” gathering, Angle shared “her beauty and makeup challenges during the campaign and how she overcame them.” The flyer said that Angle “had confidence that she would look great with 14-16 hour days & numerous appearances daily . . . so can you!”
The juxtaposition might not have raised eyebrows except that she told a reporter from the Des Moines Register, who asked about her plans, “I’ll just say I have lots of options for the future, and I’m investigating all my options.”
She then added, perhaps slyly, “Please, just invite me back.”
At that Vegas skin-care event, did Angle whisper what color of lipstick she’d prefer to wear in the Hawkeye State – or the Granite State and beyond? More to the point, is she even serious about such a bid? In all likelihood, no. But she’s guaranteed media coverage when she ventures into Iowa, where any appearance by a political figure has potential portent.
Angle gained national prominence by taking on Reid. Her momentum grew thanks to the Internet and social media. Before becoming a tea party favorite, she served in the Nevada state legislature from 1998 to 2005 and in 2006 narrowly lost a congressional GOP primary.
Pundits and others — especially comedians — have scoffed at the notion of an Angle presidential campaign. On Comedy Central’s website, one post joked, “Is there room for one more clown in the clown car? Come on, clowns! You can make room! Go on, scoot over. Scoot over!”
But before everyone laughs, maybe they should pause.
Angle may not run — her chances of success are virtually nonexistent — but she might influence the primaries with money and rhetoric if the tea party movement holds strong. During her race against Reid, she raised more than $21 million (though, admittedly, conservatives viewed her as their best chance to boot a despised incumbent). And she recently announced her “Patriot Caucus PAC,” which is aimed at creating “a ground game across most battleground states for the 2012 election cycle.”
The PAC also launched a corresponding website and Facebook page, which only has about 6,000 followers so far — a small number in the online political world. The PAC’s advisory committee includes tea party organizers in New Hampshire, Florida and Iowa, where the Patriot Caucus plans to open offices. The website features “action groups,” one of which currently profiles Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, conservative host of a popular talk radio show in Georgia, and himself weighing a 2012 presidential bid.
But the website cautions: “Action groups on the Patriot Caucus do not suggest an endorsement of any kind. All GOP candidates will be given an action group once an official campaign is announced.”
According to Federal Elections Commission reports, the PAC has yet to raise any money.
Angle also doesn’t work social media sites the way a future presidential candidate might. She updated her Twitter account last week after visiting Iowa, but prior to that, the last time she updated it was at Thanksgiving. Her only active Facebook account that is public is tied to her PAC, which was last updated Jan. 20.
Nonetheless, Lara Brown, an associate political science professor at Villanova University, says women such as Angle, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann cannot be dismissed for one reason — they bring other women into the political process (even if MSNBC host Chris Matthews calls them “balloon heads” — a term he used for Bachmann — Brown says).
“While some of these women’s presidential efforts will be little more than quixotic escapades, there is little doubt that they are changing the complexion of the Republican Party by demanding a place at the table and by energizing conservative women to engage in partisan politics,” Brown says.
Bristol Palin will not be speaking about abstinence at Washington University in St. Louis next month.
The university said in an e-mailed statement, “The student group that invited Bristol Palin…has mutually agreed with her not to proceed with a contract regarding Palin’s participation in a panel discussion at Washington University on Feb. 7.”
The university’s Student Health Advisory Committee invited Palin, who became a single mother at 18 and is now a spokeswoman for the prevention of teen pregnancy, to speak on abstinence during Washington University’s student Sexual Responsibility Week. That week will focus on creating an open sexual dialogue on campus.
Students started a protest via Facebook to halt Palin’s appearance, which would have been paid for with student-generated funds. It had been reported that she would receive between $15,000 and $30,000 to speak.
A Facebook group called “Keep Bristol Palin out of the sex discussion at Washington University” said, “It’s not about conservative or liberal, it’s about not wasting our money on people who don’t matter…especially people who are only famous for being the teenage pregnant daughter of a politician. That is not a credential — it’s a gimmick. So reach across the aisle — and stand up and say something.”
That group also launched a petition as did the university’s College Democrats.
Last week, Palin appeared at a charity fundraiser in Texas that benefitted the nonprofit Central Texas Orphan Mission Alliance, which takes an anti-abortion stance. Sarah Palin also appeared last week in Texas for a fundraiser for Lubbock Christian School.
The university said in its statement that Dr. Katie Plax, head of adolescent medicine and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, would participate on the panel instead of Palin.
The crime-fighting world needs a heroine about now.
And not Wonder Woman in her redesigned 21st century jeggings and short jacket that makes her look more like she’s headed for the nightclub than a Justice League meeting.
Enter the rebooted Spider-Girl.
Marvel Comics debuts the teen-aged super heroine Wednesday. While Marvel has previously created a Spider-Girl, this one is retooled with less connection and sidekick action to Spiderman.
The original Spider-Girl, first appearing in 1998, was the daughter of Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, and Mary Jane Watson, his sweetheart he later marries. That Spider-Girl had a costume very similar to her father’s.
Not the new one.
Spider-Girl is her own woman in a masked, skin-tight, black latex costume with a silver spider gracing its front. Oh, and she has a Twitter account. Her tweets also double as thought captions in the comic. Some recent tweets include, “I look good in black” and “Dear Everyone. Spider-Man is NOT my dad / brother / boyfriend / evil twin.”
But on one tweet, Spider-Girl even hints at a crush (maybe?) on Spider-Man. “And then HE saved ME from a tentacle! He moved FAST. And he felt…umm…let’s just say he must work out.”
Oh, and if you want to know where Spider-Girl is, no dice. She turns off the location notifier for her tweets. Better to fool the enemy.
While Marvel says that Spider-Girl is aimed at everyone, she may just be the heroine teenage girls need right now. What young woman doesn’t need an alter ego to fight the mean girls? Spider-Girl is tough, sassy and takes no prisoners. In her second adventure out in December, Spider-Girl tackles the gigantic Red Hulk, a villain in the vein of the Incredible Hulk.
Spider-Girl is the alter ego of Anya Corazon, the daughter of a famous investigative journalist, who was raised to seek out truth and justice. But a Spider Society sought her out to become a crime fighter. At some point the Spider Society’s sorcerer was forced to transfer some of his power in order to her to save her life. She then received a spider-shaped tattoo bestowing her with enhanced strength and agility. She was trained as a combat martial artist by some of the best fighters in the world and helped her hero, Spiderman, in a battle. Now, she is ready to fight solo. Think Beatrice in “Kill Bill.”
In a sample of the comic book sent to Politics Daily by Marvel, Spider-Girl takes on Screwball, a girl criminal who films her crimes. Her latest: Stolen figurines from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Spider-Girl, with her flowing brown hair, punches out Screwball in the face. A cop on the scene to arrest Screwball says, “Hey, you’re a kid . . . just a girl.”
Spider-Girl retorts, “I’m not JUST a girl.”
Good for you, Spider-Girl.
Hopefully, Spider-Girl will remain tough and hard-hitting without having a horrible fate or having to call for reinforcements from the Marvel Universe to assist her. DC Comics ruined Batgirl a few years ago when the Joker shot Batgirl, paralyzing her. She later re-emerged as Oracle, an information gatherer in a wheelchair, only to be re-christened later as a new character in a redefined role as a tough crime fighter. In fact, Spider-Girl was previously christened Arana but has found rebirth as Anya now. But confusingly, she keeps aspects of Arana’s backstory. Such is the way in the comic universe, where heroes die and are reborn — sort of like daytime soap opera characters or politicians who reinvent themselves after scandal. It keeps people tuned in.
In 1946, female comic book readers outnumbered males. These days, boys read more comics than girls. But maybe that will change with Spider-Girl if girls give her half a chance, and she doesn’t become too moody, dark and the Emo girl next door or perky with a Care Bear T-shirt trying out for the cheerleader squad – a modern day Betty or Veronica.
“If you have the will to do right, you have the responsibility to the world,” states a tagline in the Spider-Girl press materials. Not a bad motto for people who need to find an adventure, solve some problems and stop whining on Facebook.
According to Sarah Palin, you really can see Russia from Alaska. Just maybe not from her house, as Tina Fey joked on Saturday Night Live in 2008.
On Sunday, Palin wrote a Facebook note titled “Alaska’s Position on the Globe (Yes, You Can See Russia!)” that stressed her endorsement of Republican Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller.
Palin, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, wrote that at a Miller rally last week, she said that change was needed in Washington so Alaska could “finally develop our natural resources to help secure the union.”
She wrote that she included a “riff” on the fact people can see Russia from Alaska. She said Alaskans have sent her numerous pictures that prove Russia can be seen from Alaska and that “put to rest the lamestream media’s mocking of that point.”
“We are proud of our strategic location as the air crossroads of the world, our rich natural resources, and our valuable shipping and transportation lanes affecting the commerce of Pacific Rim countries,” she wrote.
She posted a picture of a man she described as a “tough Alaskan” in a baseball cap and leather jacket. Over his shoulder is the Russia mainland, the caption said.
The Alaska-Russia controversy erupted in 2008 when ABC’s Charlie Gibson asked Palin, “What insight into Russian actions particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of this state give you?”
Palin said: “They’re our next-door neighbors. And you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.”
The debate continues on the Web: several sources say Russia can be seen from a small Alaskan island, but others argue it’s impossible to see Russia from the Alaskan mainland, as they say Palin has implied.
Comedian Tina Fey, playing Sarah Palin during a skit, joked that she could see Russia from her house.
The Palin post generated nearly 2,000 responses and more than 8,000 “likes.” Many praised Palin for taking on the media and said she was the only one for president in 2012.
“You need more than real pictures to prove it to the morons in the press that only know how to repeat the liberal talking points,” one commenter said.
Lady Gaga is a political force.
Don’t laugh. Just consider her activism this year. She has taken on several political hot potatoes – the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, Arizona’s immigration law, California’s same-sex marriage ban, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
For all of Lady Gaga’s outrageous costumes and catchy dance tunes, the 24-year-old singer, known as Mama Monster to her fans, has alerted the Millennial generation to issues that otherwise may have gone under their radar screens.
With a social media network larger than any politician’s, including President Barack Obama‘s or potential 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s, Lady Gaga is one of the most influential, and powerful, people in the world. Forbes Magazine ranked her seventh in its recent 2010 list of most powerful women. She didn’t even make the list in 2009.
The Native New Yorker – whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – has 21 million Facebook fans (Obama has 15 million, Palin two million) and nearly seven million Twitter followers. The numbers increase daily. Her videos recently hit a milestone with one billion views on YouTube. Her adoring fans, also called Little Monsters, track her every move and respond eagerly to her calls for political action.
When she appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards in September, retired gay military officers from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) escorted her down the red carpet. Her political statement: Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The SLDN received an instant public relations boost that money cannot buy. More than 100,000 people visited the group’s Web site within 72 hours. Nearly 93 percent were new visitors.
After the show, Ellen DeGeneres invited Lady Gaga to her talk show. Dressed in her now-infamous meat dress, she used the talk show to call for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a Senate vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She also encouraged her fans to call Reid’s office. Naturally, she also tweeted, “CALL HARRY REID to Schedule Senate Vote.”
Reid returned the tweet, triggering a lovefest between the two: “@ladygaga There is a vote on #DADT next week. Anyone qualified to serve this country should be allowed to do so.”
The pop goddess continued to urge her Little Monsters to call their senators and ask them to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She then challenged Sen. John McCain and other senators who opposed the repeal in a stark black and white video, where she also showed fans how to call their senators and what to say. She even headed to Portland, Maine, for a rally to try and persuade Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to support the repeal.
When the bill failed, Lady Gaga vowed to continue her fight for gay and lesbian issues. Her next album will be called “Born This Way” – a shout-out to her LGBT fans, and she recently recorded a duet with Elton John.
Celebrity activism is nothing new. Ever since Bob Geldof’s Band-Aid in the 1980s, Bono has become a dedicated political saint, leading the charge on myriad causes, including debt relief for Africa. In the 1970s, Jane Fonda spoke out against the Vietnam War, and Marlon Brando focused on the Civil Rights Movement and Native American causes.
But Lady Gaga has harnessed the potential of 21st Century social media unlike any of her musical peers or even Washington politicians who pay consultants big money to work social media magic.
“She’s like a tribal leader,” says Gordon Coonfield, associate professor of communication at Villanova University. “Tribal leaders have their own influence and are about bringing networks together. She has her own influence and technology and a new kind of network power that traditional politics can’t really afford to ignore.”
A lot of celebrities tweet, but as Coonfield points out, Lady Gaga takes it a step beyond witty updates and relationship drama. She tweets not only about the cocktail she drank at a bar but also about serious topics.
“We are talking about issues that could change the military and fates of people,” Coonfield says.
Imagine if Lady Gaga decided to lead a march on Washington with millions of Little Monsters in tow. Unlike Glenn Beck, Lady Gaga has a colossal global following. She would shed an international light on her cause célèbre, and her crowd might very well dwarf Beck’s and Jon Stewart’s.
Lady Gaga, who made $62 million last year, likely won’t leave her music career any time soon to launch a run for office. But what if she decided to create GAGAPAC to donate to progressive candidates? One tweet would likely result in hefty donations and free publicity for the candidate of her choosing.
On another front, Lady Gaga might also give Palin’s Mama Grizzlies a run for their fur if she decided to endorse candidates and campaign – even virtually – for them. Who knows? Harry Reid might be on safer ground today if Lady Gaga had helped him in Nevada against Palin-backed Sharron Angle.
First Lady Michelle Obama may be the most powerful woman in the world, but Lady Gaga is not far behind. After all, Lady Gaga is already ahead of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who ranks No. 11. If Lady Gaga maintains her star power into 2012, she could likely unleash her Little Monsters – many who may be voting in their first election – to become a progressive, liberal tsunami in GOTV efforts. And a real worry for conservatives.
Journalism has needed a global ambassador. Now it has one — Barbie.
Yes, Barbie has transformed into a news anchor. For the first time in the doll’s 51-year history, Mattel asked consumers to pick Barbie’s new adventure from five careers – architect, computer engineer, environmentalist, news anchor and surgeon. Forget Barbie designing her own dream home or saving the planet. No, Barbie needs to be in the middle of the action, and journalism certainly provides that some days.
In her new incarnation, the doll — looking like she just returned from Malibu — wears a pink suit with black and silver accents and black pumps with pink bows. Her long, blond hair is cut bluntly with bangs highlighting blue eyes with pink eye shadow. Her accessories include a microphone, a news camera and news folder — pink, of course — with a “B” on it. (Hint to Mattel: A notepad might have been a better prop. The folder makes her look like a secretary.) She does look a tad like the “bubble-headed bleach blonde” that The Eagles’ Don Henley sung about in 1982′s “Dirty Laundry.” Still, she has a mission.
“Barbie as a news anchor can help inspire future female journalists with interactive role play that can help foster skills like storytelling, verbal/written communication, and creativity that comes with being a journalist,” according to a release from Mattel.
Journalism certainly can welcome an ally these days as newspapers and magazines struggle to stay afloat, and Sarah Palin turning red-state America against the “lamestream” media.
This isn’t Barbie’s first endeavor as a reporter. In 1960, just two years after the statuesque doll hit the toy scene, she could be dressed as a fashion editor. In 1985, Television News Reporter Barbie hit the shelves. That same year, she worked as a business executive, dress designer, veterinarian and a teacher. Busy girl. Last year, she took a page from “The Devil Wears Prada” and worked as a fashion magazine intern. (Who has time for Ken?)
Because Barbie is cute with fashionable looks, she could easily land interviews with Sarah Palin, who herself was a television sports reporter, and Christine O’Donnell, who could double as Gidget (as my Woman Up colleague Donna Trussell wrote) or even Barbie’s modern cousin, Francie.
But I like to imagine News Anchor Barbie pushing the journalism envelope more than settling for sit-downs with Palin and O’Donnell. Mattel should create an entire line of news anchor outfits. Any good reporter worth her byline should have camouflage in her closet (in case, she’s called to Afghanistan in the middle of the night), a pair of comfortable, chic black boots, a nice black pantsuit to blend in at news conferences and a passport. Think Christiane Amanpour.
But other questions arise: Would Barbie be more at home beside Fox News’ Sean Hannity or MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann? She could play the middle ground and find a home on CNN. Perhaps Barbie, having been born in 1959 at the height of the television revolution, would be old school and kick it on one of the three original networks, as Amanpour does these days.
Barbie has certainly evolved since her inception as a teen fashion model showing her curves in a black-and-white swimsuit. Unfortunately, she still gets a bum rap for her “perfect” figure and for once saying that math was hard. But what public figure hasn’t uttered something they regret saying? At least she hasn’t admitted to dabbling in witchcraft.
For all the shallowness, Barbie broke career barriers before women in the United States did. She was an astronaut in 1963, long before women busted the all-male space club. Ten years later, she was a surgeon — a ground-breaking career in the 1970s for women. In fact, the Association of Women Surgeons wasn’t even founded until 1981.
In 1992, Barbie ran for president while Hillary Clinton bucked the old-fashioned first lady stereotype. Politics called her again in 2000 and 2004, when she made runs for the White House.
As much as journalism needs Barbie, she should push the envelope. Maybe 2012 is the year she will forego news reporting to finally sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and become President Barbie.
Could Lady Gaga be Harry Reid’s savior?
This week, Reid’s Senate re-election campaign got a boost that money can’t buy, thanks to Lady Gaga’s Twitter love notes to him about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — and her postings urging millions of fans to “CALL HARRY REID” to schedule a vote on repealing the policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military.
Anyone under 30 who may not have known the Nevada Democrat or his position as Senate majority leader certainly does now.
Reid is in a dead-heat with Republican and Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle. This week, a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Nevada found Reid and Angle tied at 48 percent. A CNN-Time poll has similar results.
Note to Harry: You may need to call in Mama Monster and her fans — known as Little Monsters — for reinforcements.
Reid is a 71-year-old politician whose brightest days may be behind him. Lady Gaga is a 24-year-old tsunami who knows how to get attention and politically energize the base that belonged to President Obama in 2008. Imagine if Lady Gaga went door-to-door with Reid. What red-white-and-blue creation would she wear? The imagination reels.
Reid, who follows pop culture, has targeted young voters in the past. In July, the Las Vegas band The Killers performed at a campaign rally for Reid. His spokesman, Jim Manley, told The New York Times earlier this week that Reid absolutely knows who Lady Gaga is, even though Reid’s musical tastes trend “more towards Wilco and The Killers. But the (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) provision is facing fierce opposition from Senate Republicans next week, so he’ll take support anywhere he can get it.”
Angle is trying to lure Sarah Palin to officially endorse her. Palin has donated $2,500 to Angle’s campaign. In October, Obama will campaign with Reid in Nevada.
But Lady Gaga is the one Reid needs before Nov. 2.
Lady Gaga, who won eight MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night, would be the perfect fit to shake up Reid’s campaign. Neither Wilco nor The Killers have the rabid, obsessive following that Lady Gaga possesses. Neither band gets the press coverage that Lady Gaga does. They aren’t household names.
With one tweet, Lady Gaga could activate her national base of nearly 18 million Facebook fans and 6.3 million Twitter followers to help Harry Reid save his job with grassroots activism and dollars. A Gaga television or radio ad could play very well in America’s playground – Las Vegas. Reid could promote Lady Gaga’s message of love and unity to counter the vicious attack ads by Angle.
At Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, Lady Gaga showed up with four retired gay veterans from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network as escorts. The appearance inspired Colorado college students Lauren and Ellie to make YouTube video calling on Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
On Wednesday, Bennett responded to the pair via YouTube. He supports the repeal.
“Michael appreciates feedback from his constituents, and as a former superintendent of schools he encourages young people to engage in democracy and to make sure their voices are heard,” Adam Bozzi, spokesman for Bennett, told Politics Daily.
Lady Gaga could be the Left’s answer to Palin. She has taken on the hate group, Westboro Baptist Church, and the immigration brouhaha in Arizona. A rumor circulates in the LGBT community that she may show up in Washington next week for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” vote. She speaks, and a generation listens, retweets and activates.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Web site currently has a post with instructions to Lady Gaga fans about how to call their senators.
“Tell your senators to vote with Sen. Reid and Sen. Carl Levin in opposing the filibuster, defeat amendments to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments,” the site says. “Senators should follow the lead of Sen. Carl Levin who will be managing the defense bill.”
One comment on the site said, “Thank you Lady Gaga! I called my Senators from Iraq . . . it took all of three minutes (one minute was dedicated to all the numbers I had to push on the telephone). Lets keep the pressure up!”
Harry Reid’s campaign Twitter account spent Wednesday responding to Little Monsters who had replied to his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” action. The account had also started following some of Lady Gaga’s fans. One fan, HausofGem, wrote, “I want to thank Mr. @HarryReid. 1. For following me. 2. For supporting #DADT.”
Reid should harness these Lady Gaga fans and lure them to his side. And quick. As Lady Gaga would say: Paws up, Harry.