Conservatives respond: Bristol Palin is not dancing with the tea party
Will it be the classy Jennifer Grey? The fun-loving Kyle Massey? Or the indomitable Bristol Palin?
Oh, the suspense.
Here at Show Tracker we thought we had exhausted our coverage of the controversy that landed at our feet Wednesday morning, after Sarah Palin's eldest daughter once again survived elimination for the seventh consecutive week. But then we realized we could do more. We could reach out to the conservative "tea party" movement and see if there was any truth to the notion that they were conspiring to light up the phone lines and crash ABC.com servers with their blanket support of the 20-year-old "Dancing With the Stars" contestant.
In between hearty laughs, Dawn Wildman, co-coordinator of the California Tea Party Patriots, dismissed the idea of an organized coalition to get the dancing competition's mirror ball trophy in Palin's young hands.
"We are all still reeling from the elections and the business at hand with the lame duck session," said Wildman, of San Diego. "And I wish we had the opportunity to spend time to just sort of mull the situation for 'Dancing With the Stars.' But that’s just not happening. It is interesting that the left would think that there is somehow a concerted effort or a conspiracy of the 'tea party' movement to propel this young woman into — what? Winning the giant disco ball award? What would we actually achieve by her doing that? How will it help the nation if Bristol Palin wins 'Dancing With the Stars'? I don’t think any of us have enough time on our hands to consider our options for that one."
To be fair, there are plenty of individual conservatives backing Bristol Palin and using social media to garner support for her. Author and talk show host Tammy Bruce certainly has made no secret of her dancing preferences on her Twitter account. And Smart Girl Politics, a conservative organization, encouraged visitors to its site on Monday to carry Palin into the semifinals. But is that any different than fans for Rick Fox or singer Brandy drumming up support for them on their Facebook pages?
"I think there are individuals, like there would be in any community or group," said Stacy Mott, president of Smart Girl Politics. But are some of the big conservative organizations out there putting out 'Dancing With the Stars'' phone numbers? No. There’s some excitement, absolutely, but is it solely the tea party that’s keeping her in it? Absolutely not. The movement is not pushing this."
Wildman attributes Bristol Palin's popularity on the show to her everywoman quality, with which this YouTube user seems to agree.
"To me, it just looks like a giant personality contest," Wildman said. "The show was not built to have the best of the Rockettes on there. The whole point is that you’re bringing in people out of their comfort zone to put them into this setting with professionals. And I think the appeal of Bristol Palin is that she’s a young woman who’s made some mistakes and has been dinged up pretty good in the media because of it. I can’t imagine being her age and having every stupid act any of us ever do at that age be front-page news. So, if she’s actually excelling at something that she’s really enjoying and putting her all into it, then why wouldn’t people want to support that, whether they’re tea partyers or not?"
Mott also noted that Palin has been savvy about using Facebook and her website to stay connected to the show's viewers.
"The one thing that she herself is doing better than the other contestants is she’s getting the information out on her social media sites and her website," she said. "I don't see others doing that. Besides that, she’s the underdog. She’s someone who’s not a star. Kelly Osbourne was rooting for her. And I have no doubt that Kelly Osbourne has no fascination with Sarah Palin, but it’s something she can relate to."
This season, with all of its surprise eliminations — Rick Fox especially — "Dancing With the Stars" has picked up an additional 3.3 million viewers. It certainly hasn't hurt that the former governor of Alaska has been on set a few times to watch her daughter perform.
"If people are watching to get time away from their heads exploding from all the politics, then it’s a good thing," Wildman said. "And good for Bristol. I think it’s incredibly brave of all the people that go on there that don’t come from dancing backgrounds to be out there every week, giving it their all, in a hugely subjective fashion. But other than that, I'm sorry, I just find this all so incredibly stupid."
Mott echoed the feeling.
"If this is what people are worried about, God help us," she said. "Then again, I get that if people have to focus on the real issues in the world, it gets really scary."
— Maria Elena Fernandez
Photo: Bristol Palin on "Dancing With the Stars." Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC.
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