ABC News reports today that Sarah Palin has made more than $12 million in the year since she resigned as Alaska's governor:
That conservative estimate is based on publicly available records and news accounts. The actual number is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings. She reputedly got a $7 million deal for her first book, with the bulk of that money due after her resignation as governor, and will earn about $250,000 per episode, according to the web site The Daily Beast, for each of eight episodes of a reality show about Alaska for the The Learning Channel. She has managed to keep a lid on reliable figures for her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins.
A Palin aide responding to questions from ABC News said the governor "is now a private citizen. As a result, her fees and earnings are private."
Finally, an explanation for leaving government that we can all understand: Money.
I know that's not how Palin would characterize it; she'd say she left to better serve the country. It's just very strange that her definition of better service to America has dovetailed so very, very nicely with better service of Sarah Palin's checkbook. Wouldn't the better path to improving America involve a low-cost speaking tour and donation of those book fees toward jobs programs? Then again, I guess SarahPAC is a jobs program in and of itself -- temporary employment through at least 2012, right?
So the question next is: Will this even matter? Sarah Palin has been enormously successful at selling herself as a representative of Joe Six-Pack and company. I would guess that most Joe Six-Packs in the world can't identify with someone who's made $12 million in a year when many people struggle to find work paying $12 an hour -- but that they can certainly identify with the desire to do that well.
Palin has proven a master at making her story sound quintessentially American when it can be proven, easily, that it is not. The clothing debacle damaged her a bit during the campaign -- but being a private citizen guarantees that she can now have her $12 million cake, and her fancy clothes and private jets, and eat it, too, outside the public sphere, while feeding them the story of her great, middle-American, regular-Jane rise.