A politician who is or was an entertainer; a politician who makes extensive use of entertainment media, particularly during a campaign. adj.
Jesse Ventura was a pro wrestler, then a mayor, then a governor. He now wants to be a talk show host.
Jerry Springer was a mayor, a television anchor, then a talk show host. And his show has more in common with WWF Smackdown than Meet the Press.
Both are famous, populist politicians with a history of outlandish behavior. They are both "politainers."
Gregory Korte, "Ventura won could Springer?," The Cincinnati Enquirer, August 5, 2003
"When you start to be a TV-dominated campaign, you're just another person on TV," Schultz says. "And all these comedy appearances clearly take the dignity away from the office. One quick 'Sock it to me!' or toot on the saxophone is different than making your strategy for running for president to be on as many shows as possible."
Schultz has coined a term "politainers" for the TV-obsessed campaigners. Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, a professional wrestler by trade, is the extreme and perfect example of the hybrid.
"Politics has become entertainment, and candidates are appearing on these shows because they want to come across as entertainers, not candidates," Schultz says.
Diane Holloway, "Where's the presidential beef?," Austin American-Statesman, November 3, 2000
"Politically Incorrect," Leno and Letterman's Bush and Gore jokes, Al Franken, Arianna Huffington, Maureen Dowd and numerous other columnists I won't mention, George magazine, Salon and other pontifi-sites on the Web, a bunch of shouting guys on TV every Sunday they're all part of the burgeoning politainment industry.
San Francisco has two of the nation's cutting edge politainers running for mayor.
Rob Morse, "We hold the remote," The San Francisco Examiner, December 10, 1999
David Schultz, "Jesse Ventura and the Brave New World of Politainer Politics," Hamline University, 1999
This word is dedicated, of course, to newly minted California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently announced his candidacy in true politainer style on Jay Leno's Tonight Show. Schwarzenegger's campaign is part of the unprecedented recall of current California governor Gray Davis, thus giving new meaning to the title of one of Schwarzenegger's most popular movies, "Total Recall." (Expect to hear that joke a few dozen times in the coming months, as well as lots of people saying "The Governator" in bad Austrian accents.)
This word is blend of politician and entertainer and it was dreamed up by David Schultz, a political science professor at Minnesota's Hamline University and the author of the 2000 book It's Show Time! Media, Politics, and Popular Culture. He's quoted in example citation #2, below.