What Bristol Palin Tells Us About Sarah Palin’s Fans

Bristol Palin's success on Dancing With The Stars is apparently due largely to the fact that she is Sarah Palin's daughter. That tells us much more about Sarah Palin's supporters than it does either Sarah or Bristol.

Bristol Palin appears to be advancing in her quest for reality show stardom on Dancing With The Stars based not so much on how well she’s dancing, but on who her mother is:

Bristol Palin survived another elimination round on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” as fans including Tea Party supporters mustered enough votes to overcome low scores from the talent show’s judges.

Palin, the daughter of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, will return for the ninth week of the Walt Disney Co. network’s show, after her tango with partner Mark Ballas tied for the judges’ worst score. Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner was eliminated yesterday, based on the lowest combined tally.

“There’s a strong popular movement behind Sarah Palin at the moment and she’s receiving a lot of support from the Tea Party,” Conrad Green, executive producer of the program, said in a Nov. 4 interview. “It’s entirely possible some of those people are behind Bristol for political reasons.”

During the taping of the Nov. 8 show, the 20-year-old Palin wore a Tea Party t-shirt while rehearsing.

MSNBC also took note of the phenomenon:

From the start, the 11th season of “Dancing With the Stars” was not going to be like any other. The ensuing weeks have lived up to that promise, thanks in large part to the dogged persistence of Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol, who has survived week after week despite not being considered a very skilled dancer.

“We like to get some people on the show who are unusual, and we thought Bristol would be interesting,” said executive producer Conrad Green. “We haven’t had someone quite like her before. She’s in that strange position of being a celebrity by association, having it thrust upon her rather than her seeking it. Dancing doesn’t come naturally to her, but week by week, she’s become more confident as a performer.”

(…)

Yet Bristol’s continued ability to dodge elimination comes with a ripple effect. Her fame (or notoriety, depending on your perspective) is based in just two facts: She’s a teen mom, and she is Sarah Palin’s daughter. That means whatever spotlight she grabs invariably reflects back on her mother, while her mother’s popularity likely has something to do with her surprising ability to avoid elimination each week.

“I can say with certainty that if you’re a fan of Sarah Palin, you’re going to vote for her daughter,” said Galinsky. “‘Dancing’ is a healthy, wholesome show. We are seeing people think, ‘Wow, Bristol Palin has all these great traits, so her mom must have these qualities, too.’ Two years from now, people may not remember a dance routine, but they’ll remember she’s a risk-taker. “

Politically partisan sites around the Web have taken up the call, exhorting readers to vote for Bristol. Of course, plenty of non-partisan sites get created or co-opted each season to generate bloc voting for other contestants, but in this case there’s a sense that the survival of a less-talented but enthusiastic Bristol will provide ballast to the views and opinions (and possibly the later political success) of her mother.

Now, I frankly couldn’t care less who wins, loses, or gets sent home on a “celebrity” “dancing” show, although I will note that apparently many people do considering that the show remains one of ABC’s most highly rated. This does strike me as a somewhat fascinating social and political phenomenon, though. What we appear to have here is a case where one person’s supporters are so devoted to her that they are apparently motivated to engage in campaigns to keep her daughter on a reality show regardless of whether or not she’s actually talented.

It’s a measure, I would submit, of just how devoted some of Sarah Palin;s biggest fans actually are, which is one of the main reasons why a Palin run for the GOP nomination in 2012 should not be discounted. One of the keys to success in primaries is a motivated, devoted base that will do the grunt work of the campaign and, most importantly, get out and vote. Apparently, it’s also the key to success on a dancing show.

You can reach your own conclusions about people who would follow a political figure with such devotion that their fandom would be transferred to that person’s daughter when she appears on a crappy talent show.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Entertainment, Politicians, Sarah Palin, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. You’re kind of obsessed with the Palin’s, aren’t you?

  2. MarkedMan says:

    No doubt the Palin posts generate a lot of hits.

  3. Linda says:

    Bristol Palin survived another elimination round on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” as fans including Tea Party supporters mustered enough votes to overcome low scores from the talent show’s judges.
    ========

    Yep, it’s a vast Tea Party conspiracy! And Sarah is behind it! A-ha, you’ve broken this wide open!
    Which proves what, exactly?

  4. largebill says:

    I’m sure the shows ratings were helped a little by her being part of the show. Kurt Warner was added to the show to appeal to another demographic. Warner took two different NFL teams to the Superbowl and I’m sure there are some fans of those teams that are watching this show who might not otherwise watch. Personally, I do like Palin and her positions on most issues. However, I’d never watch a minute of that silly TV show.

  5. Herb says:

    “You’re kind of obsessed with the Palin’s, aren’t you?”

    New drinking game: Whenever a Palin supporter says a Palin critic is “obsessed,” take a drink.

  6. Stave says:

    This blog is veering off into Andy Sullivan territory.

  7. It was what, two years ago? One year ago? Emmitt Smith won Dancing with the Stars even though he wasn’t particularly good. (Or so the partner in my firm who is a ballroom dancer claims.) It’s charisma that moves people to call in and vote, not talent, and the only thing remarkable about this story is that it’s not Bristol Palin’s charisma that’s in play here.

    …And about the “Palin obsession,” get real. I’ve not noticed any Sullivanesque concern with what baby came out of whose vagina or when it happened. Palin has been discussed on these pages as a political and cultural newsmaker, which is entirely fair game for commentary.

  8. mantis says:

    People watch that crap?

  9. mpw280 says:

    Maybe Sarah wants to start her own show, Shooting with Sarah. Each week she takes some liberals out for a hunt and the one who manages to shoot, gut, skin and breakdown an animal without loosing their lunch or passing out makes it to the next stage. The last stage is a baby seal hunt in the spring. Sounds like a winner to me, Sarah will make millions for FOX with a show like that.

    It really looks like Sarah is going to parlay the left’s obsession with her into a family fortune, I hope she does it. mpw

  10. sam says:

    “It really looks like Sarah is going to parlay the left’s obsession with her into a family fortune, I hope she does it. mpw”

    Heh. Dude, it’s not the left’s obsession with her, it’s her thralls like you that’s propelling all this. The nonthralls fall into two groups: Those Republicans who’re scared shitless she’ll win the nomination, and those Democrats who’re hoping she does.

  11. ponce says:

    Is nepotism that far reaching among so-called conservatives?

    That does seem to be the trend on the right side of America these days.

  12. DBinNJ says:

    largebill,

    Kurt Warner may have taken two different teams to the superbowl, and he won 2nd place twice. What a stellar performance!

  13. Herb says:

    “Kurt Warner may have taken two different teams to the superbowl, and he won 2nd place twice. What a stellar performance!”

    Kurt Warner was the MVP for Super Bowl XXXIV, where his Rams beat the Titans 23-16. Care to revise your snark?

  14. Andy says:

    My wife watches the show regularly. Since half the vote is from the audience, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that popularity plays a huge role.

  15. Robbie says:

    I support Sarah Palin as a person, daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and just plain ole love of an all-american girl. I read her book and can relate to her. I am not a member of the Tea Party nor a registered Republican but I would support her because of who she is to the public eye and her family. I’ve met Senator McCain many years ago as a grass roots lobbyist. He was my entrance into being a follower of Sarah Palin. I hope she decides NOT to run in 2012 so she will avoid being under the microscope by all of you who have been sounding off on the blog. All of you shouldn’t be in her company, she is too good and smart for all of you!

  16. Franklin says:

    Since my wife has made me watch this, my impression is that Bristol is just a likable kid. I’m not a big fan of most of Sarah’s politics and certainly not her Presidential qualifications, but she’s raised a seemingly decent young lady.

  17. Ja'far says:

    The point I see Doug making is that the voting aspect of DWTS may be telling us a little about the mindset of the pro-Sarah Palin voter. Bristol Palin consistently receives the lowest scores – deservedly so – yet she continues to survive elimination. Similarly, despite Sarah Palin’s low numbers in polls, those who do support her are undeterred by any of her negatives and are adamant in their support. To the extent that those voting for Bristol Palin are similar to those that will be voting for Sarah Palin, one can see how she may be able to muscle her way through a Republican primary despite facing attacks from credible Republican figures as well as the opposition of mainstream, more electable Republican candidates. In other words, while polls consistently show her with high unfavorable ratings, those that do support her may never jump ship, making her more formidable than polling would let on.

  18. Dodd says:

    No doubt the Palin posts generate a lot of hits.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

    We have a winner.

  19. anjin-san says:

    > New drinking game: Whenever a Palin supporter says a Palin critic is “obsessed,” take a drink.

    All the liquor in America will be gone in two days.

    As for Warner – damn good quarterback and a stand up guy.

  20. mpw280 says:

    sam its witless libs who piss themselves at the mention of her name that I love, just like you. mpw

  21. TG Chicago says:

    To those of you defending the Palins here:

    Do you think that Bristol is a talented dancer who is receiving unfairly low scores from the liberal media, err… judging panel?

    Or do you realize that she is a poor dancer and think that it’s great that she’s staying on your TV because you just happen to like seeing her on your TV?

    I mean, if it’s option #2, that’s okay. It’s a silly dance contest. If you want to see her get to the next round of the dance contest just because you like her, that’s not so terrible. I’m just curious what motivates you.

  22. Stave says:

    I couldn’t care less about Bristol. I just find it creepy that so many people here are obsessed with her, and then blame their obsession on Sarah Palin fans. It is a sad turn for what was once one of the best political blogs around.

  23. sam says:

    “sam its witless libs who piss themselves at the mention of her name that I love, just like you. mpw”

    Dear Maroon: Did you not get the part where I’m pulling for her to get the GOP nomination? Witless? Tsk, tsk. Look, I think we can have a meeting of the wits here (and I’m more than willing to make up the deficit on your side) and agree to the following proposition: The nomination by the GOP of Sarah Palin as candidate for president of the United States would be the best thing that can happen for our country. We can agree on that, right? I’m meet you half way – well, one and a half way. OK?

  24. Maggie Mama says:

    Seems I have a 180 view on this. I believe that it’s the Left audience who is calling in to keep Bristol on the show with the devious hope that she will fall down or do something ungainly to embarrass herself and her mother.

  25. jwest says:

    Perhaps Doug could focus this interest in Sarah Palin by researching and writing a retrospective on the items most liberals take as accepted fact.

    Does Sarah Palin know how to read? If so, are the same publications Katie Couric reads available in Alaska, which goes to claim by Palin that she “reads the same thing you read, Katie”?

    Charlie Gibson asked Palin to give her opinion of the “Bush Doctrine”. When Palin asked “in what respect?”, not knowing if Gibson was referring to the Bush Doctrines of unilateralism, attacking countries that harbor terrorists, pre-emptive strikes or democratic regime change, she was roundly criticized. Was this lack of psychic ability to discern Gibson’s intent a sign of reduced mental capacity?

    Did Palin say she could see Russia from her house?

    What was the truth concerning the $150,000 in clothes?

    How did Palin’s action of resigning from a 6-figure political appointment job in order to protest and expose corruption in her own party compare with similar actions by democrats (if any)?

    Getting the answers to these and other questions by someone as unbiased as Doug would go far in correcting the public’s knowledge of a rising political player.

  26. pylon says:

    “How did Palin’s action of resigning from a 6-figure political appointment job in order to protest and expose corruption in her own party compare with similar actions by democrats (if any)?”

    I don’t know if he’s a Dem, but I recall OJ saying he was going to look for the real killer.

  27. pylon says:

    That said:

    Saying “the same things as you” was clearly an evasion and something the right would have been all over Obama for.

    The Bush Doctrine was a well known concept, at least among anyone serious about looking at foreign policy. She said it was “in what respect Charlie?”, which I guess is a pretty good answer to any question.

    No, Tina Fey did, however Palin did say: “As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.” As an aside, the one spot in Alaska from where you can see Russian land is the west coast of Little Diomede Island. On a clear day, you can see across the two mile straight to the coast of Big Diomede, which is in Russia. The Diomedes are quite remote and isolated. Communication with the outside world is done sporadically, mostly by helicopter (weather permitting), which is why I think this would be an excellent place for Palin to retire early and soon.

    The $150K? I heard it was higher, but you can fill us all in.

    Sarah didn’t resign from a political appointment position. She resigned from an elected office, partway through. Her reasons, as far as I understood, were to get away from purported persecution by way of investigations and other legal actions. As far as exposing corruption in her own party, the governor’s office was a bad place to do that from?

  28. rsrobinson says:

    So Doug has discovered that television talent shows are popularity contests where establishing large voting blocs are more important than talent or performance? I smell Pulitzer!

    You can reach your own conclusions about a blogger with such an obsession with a political figure that he would use that person’s daughter’s appearance on a crappy talent show to make broad assertions about her followers.

  29. John425 says:

    “You can reach your own conclusions about people who would follow a political figure with such devotion that their fandom would be transferred…on a crappy talent…”

    See: US Presidential Campaign-2008, Obama, Barack H., Democrat (IL).

  30. jwest says:

    Pylon,

    You’ve pretty much proved my point. From your response, Doug will be able to see that the lack of basic knowledge common among most liberals hinders them in making rational conversation concerning Palin.

    It’s obvious that on the Couric interview, you’ve never seen the entire clip which shows Palin obviously insulted by the implication that people in Alaska are so isolated that they couldn’t possibly keep up with same reading material as people in New York.

    You say that the Bush Doctrine was a “well known concept”, but you fail to say which one of the doctrines Palin was suppose to know Gibson was talking about. I listed four distinctly different ones to give liberals a clue.

    You’ve correctly quoted Palin’s statement on the geographical proximity of Russia to Alaska, so at least we’re making some progress.

    Concerning the clothes, you could read the admission of the stylist hired to shop for the clothes published in the NY Times Magazine a few months after the fact.

    And apparently, you’ve never heard that she resigned from the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission in order to bring ethics violation complaints against members of her own party. Naturally, I will plead to being equally as ignorant of the facts if you can show me where Barack Obama resigned from something in order to expose corruption in the Chicago democrat machine.

    Doug needs to take this opportunity to help some of his readers gain some basic knowledge on a subject he feels compelled to write about.

  31. Herb says:

    “I just find it creepy that so many people here are obsessed with her, and then blame their obsession on Sarah Palin fans.”

    Drink.

    “You can reach your own conclusions about a blogger with such an obsession with a political figure…”

    Drink.

  32. matt says:

    You didn’t list four different bush doctrines you listed three concepts unified into the Bush doctrine. We “unilaterally” invaded a country “harboring terrorists” as a “pre-emptive” strike which resulted in a regime change in the targeted country. Time will tell if the two countries we invaded will have a true stable democracy or not…

  33. matt says:

    I hope that no one really questions Palin’s ability to read. The question is a valid one. For example despite my fiancee and I having very similar opinions we both read completely different sources of news. Now where as Katie and Palin probably have differing views on the world it’s natural that there would be some potentially serious divergence in reading material. As for the rest I really don’t care. The money is an internal Republican problem and her resigning from the gas commission resulted in no charges that I’m aware of..

    Republicans and Democrats are both groups of humans and there have been many humans who have died rooting out corruption as there have been many who lived well off corruption…

  34. matt says:

    “the question is a valid one” is in reference to the question of what does Palin read.. I should proofread my posts better 🙁

  35. jwest says:

    Matt,

    I would also hope no one had any doubts about Palin’s ability to read, but then there is Chris Matthews.

    The four “Bush Doctrines” I referred to are the most prominent ones outlined by the liberally slanted Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_Doctrine Although it’s possible to see the combination, each one does stand on its own as a separate doctrine.

    Concerning the legitimacy of Couric’s question about what Palin reads, asked alone in a normal setting it wouldn’t have been bad. This particular inquiry came in the second day of two day process, in which CBS had acquired 5 hours of taped interviews. The “what do you read” question and answer ran a total of about 40 seconds. Obviously, if any of the remaining tape had anything derogatory about Palin, it would have been aired on a continuous loop.

    As to the charges brought by Palin against the other Oil and Gas Commission members, they resulted in certain fines and the resignation of those people. The bottom line of that whole affair was that if Palin would have just kept her mouth shut and went with the flow, she would have enjoyed a long career as a highly paid commissioner. She couldn’t do that and live with herself.

    I like that.

  36. matt says:

    Jwest : Normally when I see someone refer to facts as “liberally slanted” it’s a conversation ender but I’ve got some hope for you so I’ll continue to attempt discourse with you.

    If you go and read the link you cited you would quickly see that the only countries cited are Iraq and Afghanistan which are both covered by my earlier statement..

  37. cejaxon says:

    What strikes me about this is the gullibility of the news media. Palin’s supporters describe themselves as “conservative,” as having “family values,” etc. & the media repeats this ad nauseum.

    But let’s look at what this episode shows. Speaking of the mother of two teens, the last thing in the world I would want for my kids is for the world to be made as easy as this for them when they had done so little to earn it. Just what is Bristol learning from her time on this show? It doesn’t matter what she does; Mommy will make it all right for her. Huh? The kid is what — 19? 20? When is she supposed to grow up? This isn’t pulling herself up by her own bootstraps (or dancing slippers); she’s not really learning to be independent or even getting a lesson in the natural consequences of her behavior. It’s her now-wealthy, very media-connected mommy, who has a lot of political clout, throwing her weight around to get her pampered darling unearned benefits. What conservative family values are embodied in this?

    Palin is a member of an elite (assuming elite means a small group with some kind of special privileges). She is using that elite status to pamper her children beyond what’s wise for their development into independent adults. Bristol is a single mom — is she studying for a career that will enable her to support her son? No, she’s been given (as a favor to her mother) a set of high-paying gigs that will only last for a short while (& that preclude her getting an education). Anyone believe that Bristol is living frugally & salting away most of this largess for her & her son’s future? Get real.

    Palin keeps talking about how great this DWTS time has been for Bristol’s confidence. What happens if Bristol is so confident that she tries to get a job based on the belief that she can actually dance? Kids are rendered genuinely confident by successes they’ve earned — not by faux achievements Mommy can stage-manage on their behalf.

    For the sake of her children, Palin needs to quit showing off her clout when it comes to giving them privileges, wealth, & fame that they cannot handle well & are unlikely to be able to sustain on their own. & those facilitating Palin hardly help the “family values” cause. For the sake of anyone who is likely to pay attention to Bristol as a “role model,” she’s a lousy one — have unprotected sex with your not-commitment-material local stud, have baby, & poof! Like magic, the media rewards you with larger paychecks (at least for awhile — for the time the media is paying attention) than you would have gotten if you hadn’t done anything wrong. That’s a “commonsense conservative” message for America’s teens? Lord help us all.