Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Sarah Palin

Highs: Maternal chieftain of the Mama Grizzlies, Sarah Palin spent much of the past year raising political coin and playing queenmaker in a bevy of midterm races, culminating in historic Republican gains on November 2. Yet many of the former Alaska governor's personal triumphs lived more in the realm of celebrity than politics. She continued her lucrative speaking career, locked up a TV deal with Fox News in January, released another blockbuster book, America by Heart, on Nov. 23, and made her reality show debut on TLC's "Sarah Palin's Alaska." The nexus of those two worlds was her Internet life, where she did everything from cheer on her daughter's "Dancing With The Stars" performances to mercilessly razz President Obama and opine on monetary policy, all from the security of her Facebook and Twitter accounts. 2010 saw Palin become the first true social media politician, and she even made up a word or two along the way.

Lows: Following the midterm defeats of a few Palin–annointed candidates such as Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, some Republicans expressed frustration that her endorsements had hurt the party's overall efforts. "Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate," Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus vented on November 4. Her play–it–safe media strategy didn't save her from committing a few gaffes herself — notably her exhortation to "stand with our North Korean allies" — and despite careful cultivation of her public image, the former governor ended 2010 just as low in polling of potential presidential candidates as before.

Adam Sorensen