Two of my worlds collided in October: Sarah Palin said she would eschew the 2012 presidential race for … what, exactly, we have yet to see, and Kim Kardashian decided to divorce her husband after 72 days of marriage.
Having covered celebrities for ABCNews.com for five years, and Palin's potential presidential campaign for five months, it was hard not to see the similarities between the two: Both Palin and Kardashian were accused of stringing along their followers/fans, and both generated a firestorm of ridicule. Add to this the list of other things they have in common -- they're essentially self-made sensations, they relied on reality TV to get where they are today, and they love a good photo op -- and the comparison seemed oh-so-apt.
I meant to write this piece then, but there were other stories to cover. It all worked out because now, with Kardashian's declaration that she wants to run for mayor of Glendale, Calif., the parallels between her and the former governor of Alaska are taking on "Twilight Zone" proportions.
For the unfamiliar, Palin served as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska before ascending to the governor's office and the 2008 vice presidential race. Back then, she had her detractors, just like Kardashian. In "Going Rogue," she wrote that one of the town's "good ol' boys" told her she'd never be mayor because she had "three strikes" against her -- her children, Track, Bristol, and Willow. (And here, Palin thought he'd say, "I was too young," "I was a woman," and "I didn't have enough experience.")
The then 32-year-old Palin had a college degree and a city council post, two things Kardashian, 31, lacks. But in a culture obsessed with celebrity, it's worth wondering whether things like Twitter followers (Kardashian's got more than 14 million, Palin's north of 778,000, the current mayor of Glendale isn't on Twitter) outweigh actual experience in the court of public opinion.
In any case, Kardashian will need more than popular votes to become Glendale's mayor. Tom Lorenz, the city's communications director, said the mayor title rotates among city council members each year. "First you have to be appointed to city council," Lorenz said, "then your peers appoint you mayor."
Kardashian has yet to address the hundreds, maybe thousands, of online commenters who've mocked her ambitions (One ABCNews.com commenter wondered whether Kardashian can even spell "Glendale").
I'm not taking sides. But as someone who has interviewed both of these women and seen the pull of their charisma -- hundreds of people braved a rain-soaked rally over Labor Day weekend in hopes that Palin would announce her candidacy (she did not) -- I'd say, never underestimate the power of a woman with soaring ambitions, a lot of energy, and the ability to turn heads at a moment's notice.