From “troopergate” to teen pregnancy, the bridge-to-nowhere and beyond, a lot of skeleton’s have trotted out of Sarah Palin’s closet in the past few months. Well now at least we know they were well dressed.
This week, it came to light that the RNC had spent 150,000 dollars on clothes, hair and make-up for Sarah Palin and her family. 150,000 dollars!? Wow, that’s more than the majority of Americans make in a year. What’s worse is that the McCain/Palin campaign has been running around the country talking about “Joe the Plumber,” “Joe Six Pack” and just about any other Joe they can dig up. This is the same Sarah Palin who has been touting her ‘average jane’ street cred since being tapped as VP.
It is the hypocrisy of this that has me incensed, not the amount of money that was spent. John Edwards was mocked for his 400 dollar haircuts, Hillary Clinton came under fire after it was discovered she spent 3000 dollars on hair styling sessions and Barack Obama has been heralded as the elitist candidate in the race since day one. However, now that the shoe is on the other foot, the McCain campaign expects us to just ignore this and sweep it under the rug?
Of course the American people and the media are going to go nuts with this! For one there is the disingenousy of the whole thing, but what’s more is that 150,000 dollars is a huge amount of money. In this economy anyone spending 150,000 on anything that isn’t a necessity is going to garner some attention.
Ultimately, we need to move on. What the RNC pays to outfit the Palin family isn’t really important in the long run. We need to focus on the issues. The economy, healthcare, civil rights and foreign relations. These are the things we should be talking about, not the fact that Sarah Palin went to Barney’s instead of Ann Taylor.
I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Palin. Truth be told, in a way this whole incident almost proves what she’s been espousing all along; she is middle class. If she was truly rich and into high end clothing, she would have had a wardrobe that was campaign appropriate already. I would be willing to bet that Hillary’s famous pantsuits were designer brands, and we all know Cindy McCain isn’t shopping at the Gap. Neither of these women’s wardrobes became issues, because they already had the appropriate clothes in their closets. Palin on the other hand did not, and thus the RNC had to purchase these things for her.
Let’s be honest. Looks and image matter. It is important for candidates to present well on the campaign trail. So much so that political scientists still attribute Nixon’s loss in part due to his appearance in the 1960 presidential debate:
What is most remembered and discussed is the telegenic “image” presented by Kennedy and the decidedly non-telegenic presence of Nixon. Nixon didn’t wear make-up, was recovering from the flu and had lost weight, and suffered from a knee injury. He also wore a gray suit, which provided little contrast with the background set. Kennedy wore a dark suit, wore make-up (though he already looked tan), and was coached on how to sit (legs crossed) and what to do when he wasn’t speaking (look at Nixon). CNN/TIME
I understand the McCain campaign’s need for Sarah Palin to look good. It isn’t sexism – it’s politics. Do I think 150,000 was way too much? Yes, she could have easily looked just as good for A LOT less. However, we need to move past this or we risk losing sight of what is really important in this election. We have a lot at stake here. As a country we need to move past clothing, Bill Ayers and which part of the country is most American, and get back to debating the real issues.