The rap on Sarah Palin lately has been that she wants to be a celebrity, not a politician. But it seems Palin thinks she can combine both-and launching a presidential campaign with a movie is the key to doing so.
Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics reports that in November, Palin asked filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon to 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." Instead, he offered to make a full-length feature, with a budget of $1 million, for which he supplied the financing. The Undefeated (which sort of sounds like it should be a Ben Affleck caper movie, not a political documentary) will premiere next month in Iowa, then will be rolled out in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. (Weird how he didn't pick New York and L.A.!)
Conroy reports that Palin’s team has been sitting gleefully on this project for month, anticipating a splashy, unconventional launch to a Palin presidential campaign. Bannon calls it "a call to action for a campaign."
Palin supposedly had no editorial control over the final product, but Bannon was (surprise!) given a great deal of access for his hagiography. Some of the voiceover is the audio book version of Palin’s 2009 Going Rogue , and apparently Palin is not so subtly compared to Joan of Arc. Lots more details from Conroy, who was given an exclusive screening, but it sounds as if the major themes include score-settling and Palin’s folksy charm.
So it seems the Palin plan (not officially stated yet, by the way) is to create a grass-roots frenzy, fueled by media interest in the film and a publicity storm of ’08 Palin-era proportions, thus effectively giving a middle-finger to the Republican establishment that’s worked very hard to shrug off any suggestions of a serious Palin run. That plan certainly fits beautifully with the maverick narrative Palin’s constructed for herself. But as to whether it will work to counteract the very real obstacles a Palin candidacy will face (not to mention the fact that at this late date, the famously disorganized Palin camp doesn’t appear to have a campaign team even partway in place), and whether she can still generate said frenzy, remains to be seen.
Photograph of Sarah Palin by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The New Yorker.