No getting away from Sarah Palin

Millions of Americans spent this week ignoring politics and concentrating on summer, soaring temperatures and vacation travel, but there was no getting away from Sarah Palin.

A largely overlooked Republican state governor until she ran for the vice-presidency two years ago, Palin was thrust into the spotlight and has stayed there ever since as a television host, prolific internet presence, author of a best-selling memoir and busy public-speaker.

In just the past week:

  • She acknowledged a new chapter in a long-running melodrama surrounding her daughter, a teenaged single mother. Celebrity tabloids were pleased to learn that 19-year-old Bristol now plans to marry her former boyfriend, the father of her child.
  • Palin jumped into the debate about whether America’s emerging Tea Party has racist tendencies, publicly defending the conservative and overwhelmingly white movement, cementing her support among its members.
  • She added a new name to the growing list of candidates she’s endorsed for public office, increasing the impact she’ll have when American voters go to the polls in November to elect governors and lawmakers.>/li>
  • She capped months of successful fundraising with news that she has a million dollars in the bank to support her favoured candidates or fund her own possible future campaigns.

Not bad for a quiet week in July.

Palin is unique in American public life: a woman who says she loves to go hunting with her husband and spend time with her five kids and still manages to connect constantly with voters across multiple media.

But her Republican policies and homespun persona still make her a polarising figure. Ask an American about her and you’re likely as likely to hear anger as affection.

A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last month found 33% of respondents hold a negative view of her, with 29% positive and 24% neutral.

Palin left her job as Alaska governor a year ago and Americans have been wondering ever since whether she would seek the presidency. They are still wondering.

In the meantime, they are seeing a lot of her. A lot.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

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