Sarah Palin, Purveyor of Americanism and Uplift

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Months after her professional relationship with Fox began, Sarah Palin's TV show is now here. It debuted on Fox News Channel Thursday night.

In it, Palin narrated the heart-rending stories of real-life Americans, to mixed reviews. For a look and feel of the show, here's it's embeddable promo package from Fox:


This show, and its format, is a perfect fit for Palin. Why? Because it has nothing to do with politics, much less government policy.

No, this is a show about something else entirely: personal stories, uplifting drama, and the idea of America--that is to say, Middle America. The American story, the American Dream.

And that's great for Palin. She has never wooed voters with dry, policy prescriptions. Palin woos voters because she purveys a certain sensibility of what it means to have common sense, of what values should motivate and guide the country.

Palin's book wasn't about politics or policy, it was about her own personal story, and that's what people want. At the end of the day, a lot of the fascination surrounding Palin boils down to her own personal dynamism and charm, her down-to-earth qualities that resonate with a segment of conservative voters who share those values.

In that regard, Palin has an opportunity to bring a set of marginal voters, people not always connected to the political process, into her ranks of supporters. We saw that in the buzz surrounding her campaign appearances in '08.

There's a bigger market for this style of show, because people (I think) are more interested in the American Dream than they are in debating energy policy. People get tired of drilling disputes; they don't get tired of a continual stream of uplifting stories that reinforce their conceptions of opportunity and sacrifice and overcoming adversity that go along with their emotional definitions of what America should be. That's why shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition have worked out so well.

Palin could have had a political talk show if she'd wanted, on TV or on radio. Instead, she chose to resonate with viewers on a different level, one that seems to be more her own.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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