Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 22, 2008

A WARDROBE FOR THE REAL AMERICA.... As Hilzoy noted last night, Sarah Palin has a new and unexpected problem -- the Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 on clothes and accessories for Palin and her family in just seven weeks. The figure includes more than $75,000 at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, and nearly $5,000 on hair and makeup. The funds were not just directed at the governor -- about $5,000 was also spent at Atelier, a high-class shopping destination for men.

The political implications are more than a little humiliating. Consider all the McCain campaign messages a story like this steps on -- "elitist," "small-town values," "big spender," "relating to 'real' America," etc.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American households spend an average of $1,874 a year on clothing. The RNC spent $150,000 on one family in seven weeks. Frankly, I'm not even sure how one family can spend that much so quickly. We're talking about an average of more than $2,000 a day, every day, since late August. (Yglesias noted, "The total bill is well over double the median household income in the United States.")

Marc Ambinder reports that Republicans are pissed that Palin and the RNC could have let this happen.

There is already an attempt to blame the media -- as in, the liberal media would have looked askance at Palin if she wasn't clad in Neiman Marcus, but this won't wash. Republicans, RNC donors and at least one RNC staff member have e-mailed me tonight to share their utter (and not-for-attribution) disgust at the expenditures.

This sort of spending is without precedent -- the closest approximation for any campaign I've ever covered is make-up expenses for television interviews and commercial shoots -- and Schmitt's weakly defensive response tonight indicates that the campaign is deeply embarrassed by it and has nothing to say in their defense. Spokespeople have clammed up, a sure sign that they're trying to figure out who authorized the expenses and who knew about them. Did Palin wear all of the clothing? Where is it kept?

The Democrats are going to have a lot more fun with this than is prudent, but the heat for this story will come from Republicans who cannot understand how their party would do something this stupid ... particularly (and, it must be said, viewed retroactively) during the collapse of the financial system and the probable beginning of a recession.

And those are just Republican officials. Imagine being an RNC small donor this morning, and learning that your $20 went towards a whole new wardrobe for the Palin family, as compared to, say, helping a Republican candidate win an election. Indeed, what might "Joe the Plumber" think?

Ezra added, "Sarah Palin wasn't a beet farmer last week. She was a governor. Presumably, she had clothing already. The sort of clothing that was appropriate for giving political speeches and attending campaign meetings. You can imagine the need for a couple new things (lots of different climates, etc), but not $150,000 for a whole new wardrobe. And not $150,000 of other people's money for a whole new wardrobe."

At this point, the McCain campaign's spin machine has been very quiet, apparently still struggling to come up with a defense for this. I'm looking forward to hearing what they come up with.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (88)

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Comments

well, they are saying that the clothes will be given to charity... so, i'd like to put in a claim for that really nice red leather jacket she was wearing yesterday. ;)

Posted by: linda on October 22, 2008 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

the bell is tolling for ya, you potemkin populists...

Posted by: conduplex on October 22, 2008 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Just call it keeping up with the McCains, growing the economy, gushing up and trickling down. Many upper echelon Republicans, (very clean but stupid via Mike Royko), will see this as admirable behavior.

Show me the way to the next Goodwill clothing store.

Posted by: lou on October 22, 2008 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Is she going to pull a Ted Stevens and pretend that she believed that she'd get a bill for it later? Or that it was a "loan" and she could keep it for years? Or a gift she didn't want but accepted and used it anyways?

I suspect that she just went shopping where/how Cindy goes shopping. Which also begs the question, does Cindy McCain pay for her own clothes on the campaign trail? Although something tells me that Cindy's clothes cost a whole lot more.

This all dovetails nicely into the out-of-touch, we're-the-REAL-elitists theme. Nice job, RNC.

Posted by: zoe kentucky from pittsburgh on October 22, 2008 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

A riff on the inane Barbie Girl.

Sarah:
I'm the barbie girl, in the political world
Charge to plastic, it's fantastic
You can cut my hair (4K!)
, pay for outfits everywhere
Imagination, Life is your creation

John: Come on Sarah, Let's go party

Sarah: I'm an Alaskan girl, in my fantasy world
Dress me up, make it tight, You're my Visa!

John: You're my Veep, cut and run, feel the glamor and the fame!
Guide me here, Point me where? Obama's BLACK!

Sarah: You can't ask, you can look, you can say it's all for me!

Posted by: Former Dan on October 22, 2008 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that over the next few days we'll hear expressions of outrage from all the conservative pundits in the corporate-controlled media who made fun of John Edwards' $400 haircut.

Not!

Posted by: SteveT on October 22, 2008 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

The few small donor Republicans who actually hear of this will be proud that their party is spending money to help the economy as opposed to the socialist democrats who will close Nieman Marcus and make everybody shop at K-mart.

Posted by: tomeck on October 22, 2008 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Let's see, that's half of what Cindy's outfit cost the night of her convention speech? A bargain! Maybe they can let Palin keep the stuff as a consolation prize. Thanks for playing.

Posted by: Scott F. on October 22, 2008 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Think back to Richard Nixon's "Checkers speech" and his reference to his wife's "respectable Republican cloth coat." Can we expect a "Checkers speech" from McCain?

Posted by: Shag from Brookline on October 22, 2008 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

We also have to look at where they shopped. We always refered to Neiman-Marcus as "Needless Markup" ,where only those with more money than sense shopped. Thank you Republicans for further emphasizing the gulf between how Y'all live versus yer "Joe the Plumber"

Posted by: John R on October 22, 2008 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's ironic, it's funny in a "I can't believe they did that" way. . . but it's not illegal. After all maternity clothes are expensive. Did the RNC dress Levi up too? Oh well. C'est la vie - welcome to another morning in America where the rich get richer and the poor. . . shop at Goodwill and eat at the Salvation Army.

Posted by: Bev on October 22, 2008 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, is it common practice for the NC to pick up the tab for the candidate's CLOTHES? This is the kind of thing I would expect them to pay for personally!

Contrast this with a photo I saw of Obama last week, with his feet up while on the phone. And holes in the soles of his shoes. Ain't no one else paying for his shoes at least!

Posted by: Charity Froggenhall on October 22, 2008 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Plus - these loose a few more news cycles to a "Let them eat cake" moment

Posted by: John R on October 22, 2008 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

The big money doners might get miffed, but don't expect the rabble to be upset. She's their princess.

Posted by: Saint Zak on October 22, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

This wardrobe snit from the media actually serves McCain/Palin well. It serves to distract from her interview in which she totally mangled and botched her answer regarding the role of the VP in the workings of the legislative branch. The VP commands the Senate? The VP participates (evidently equally) with Senators in the drafting of law and policy proposals? I'm waiting for a chorus on the Right rushing to defend her views as entirely consistent with the Constitution and the conduct of past VPs. Palin could say the VP was legally in charge of policing interstate commerce regulations and Charles Krauthammer would point out John Madison had advocated for just such authority in a private conversation with Thomas Jefferson in 1779. Yes, let's talk about dresses, unstained no less, and skim over her ineptitude and ignorance regarding the job she's interviewing for.

Posted by: steve duncan on October 22, 2008 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

"Let them eat Ferragamo!"

Posted by: zeitgeist on October 22, 2008 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Prediction number 1:

Well, for five years, John McCain couldn't spend any money on clothing.

Prediction number 2:

Getting regular hockey moms to stop shopping is just what the terrorists want.

Prediction number 3:

Now that the media has raised this issue, regrettably, we really have no choice but to call Obama a muslim socialist fascist drug-using terrorist who hates America.

Posted by: Basilisc on October 22, 2008 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I do believe that the McInsane campaign robotons are left with only two "defenses" for any and all errors and crimes committed by the campaign:

"Shut up, you're ugly"

and

"I know you are but what am I?"

This is going to be the most deserved, most satisfying and devastating loss by a pair of political dung heaps in history. I will so enjoy the destruction of McInsane's and Palin's political careers in one catastrophic fell swoop.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on October 22, 2008 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

steve duncan, you're overthinking this. most people, unlike us junkies, don't care much (or dont know with certainty themselves) the details of the VPs role with the Senate. what they do know is that McCain/Palin claim to be the "real Americans," the team for Joe the Plumber. McCain's sole remaining strategy is to try and wrest back Pennsylvania - not the cities, of course, but the rural central and southern parts. Seven weeks of wardrobe expense that is triple the household income in those areas makes a mockery of the only message McCain had left. In addition to being a media-friendly story that will kill precious news cycles, this is one of the worst things that could happen to McCain in terms of message strategy at this particular moment. This is, electorally, a much much bigger deal than Palin's answer on the VP and the Senate. Trust me on this one.

Posted by: zeitgeist on October 22, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

I think in a perfect world, this is a nonstory. Even I, a staunch democrat, doesn't expect her to be dressed by Walmart.

But it sure was sweet seeing the McCain campaign decrying the mindless insatiability of the press to pursue this when the economy is in trouble and we have REAL problems that need discussing.

Pot, meet kettle.

Posted by: swarty on October 22, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin wasn't a beet farmer last week. She was a governor. Presumably, she had clothing already. The sort of clothing that was appropriate for giving political speeches and attending campaign meetings.

Um, has Ezra seen photos of her before her RNC makeover? Pink ruffles. I'm not kidding.

so, i'd like to put in a claim for that really nice red leather jacket she was wearing yesterday. ;)

Oh, god, that jacket. So appropriate for a vice presidential candidate. All that money and this is the look they came up with?

Posted by: shortstop, who has no business playing fashion cop on October 22, 2008 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Golly she looks to be about Cindy's size...couldn't she have just gotten some cast offs...(the kids can shop at Target/JCPennys like the rest of REAL AMERICA)...gee whiz I guess things will really be different with McShame/Scarah CHANGE!!!

Posted by: Dancer on October 22, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

"...Republicans are pissed that Palin and the RNC could have let this happen."

No, they're pissed because somebody found out. Raiding cookie jars is a Republican specialty. But Palin is a noob and doesn't know how to do it right.

Posted by: Marko on October 22, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

zeitgeist, of course you're correct. My longing for substantive debate shows. The saddest commentary resulting from such stories is that our electorate is as willfully ignorant and dismissive of important policy issues as is Palin. Her assertions merely echo Cheney's approach to the office and yet it troubles no one she wants to continue his disasterous conduct.

Posted by: steve duncan on October 22, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Shop, baby, shop!

Shop, baby, shop!

Shop here, shop now!

Posted by: Gridlock on October 22, 2008 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Joe the Plumber
Tito the Nieman-Marcus Clerk
Rhonda the Saks Fifth Avenue Make-up Artist

All the mavericks in the house put your hands up!
All the plumbers in the house pull your pants up
All the Palins in the house - the jig's up!

Posted by: rick on October 22, 2008 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

@ zeitgeist You are absolutly correct - the big deal is loosing the news cycles. The *liberal* press will be all over this labeling her an elitest. Can someone tell me the Faux news take on this - I can't get it at work

Posted by: John R on October 22, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I'm trying to calculate a few things here...first of all, you have to assume most of it was spent on Palin herself, since she's the one who's out on the trail almost every day. If you allocate even half of the total to spending for her wardrobe (and that's probably low - probably more than half of it went to outfit her), that's $75,000. Then divide that by the number of days between when she was announced as the running mate and election day - I think that's 67 days - and you come up with a figure of over $1100 per day, assuming that they bought a new ensemble for every day (and I'm betting they did - I can't recall seeing her wearing the same thing more once). Aside from the incredible expense - most of us small-town Heartlander women could put together new outfits that look just as good for half the cost or less - imagine the amount of time it takes to shop for that much clothing. Days and days of time. Is that really the best way for a candidate for national office to be spending a full week of the eight weeks available for campaigning? So there's not only the cost of the wardrobe itself - there's the "opportunity cost" of the time spent in shopping for it - the rallies that couldn't be scheduled or attended, the campaign stops that couldn't be made. As has happened so often during this campaign, you have to wonder what the McCain campaign was thinking. And if I'm wrong and they didn't buy 67 separate outfits, that doesn't make it any better, because that just means they spent even more on the fewer ones they bought. Imagine the ads and one-liners that can be made on this..."No wonder Sarah Palin doesn't want you to get a middle-class tax cut - she needs that money to buy a new outfit!"

Last, on that almost $5K per month they're spending on hair and makeup - they're getting ripped off. I've noticed a few times that someone seems to have a really heavy hand when it comes to applying the blush. I've seen her a few times where it looked like she had two reddish stripes smeared down either side of her face. And don't tell me a hair pro couldn't come up with something better than that modified beehive.

Posted by: Jennifer on October 22, 2008 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

So is this standard clothing costs for all Hockey Moms?

I've heard it's a really expensive sport for your kid to get involved in, what with rink time rental, skates etc. But I never knew your typical Hockey Mom had to spend so much for lipstick.

Stay with Soccer, Sarah. It's much easier on the donors.

Posted by: The Other Ed on October 22, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

I'm looking forward to hearing what they come up with.

My prediction: the spin will involve images like this one.

Posted by: FearItself on October 22, 2008 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Straw that broke the moose's back

The Palin poll showing her pulling the ticket down is a tipping point. This story has wings because of that poll. Big media sees her as fair game now: She is ruining the old man!

2012?
You betcha not. She's pure satire now.
She has absolutely no national political future.

Posted by: koreyel on October 22, 2008 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

This reinforces the storyline that she is not a good steward of other people's money...official travel for her kids for what's really personal business; per diem reimbursement for nights spent in her official residence; and so on. Some people will overlook this, but others will see it as cashing in.

Posted by: orion on October 22, 2008 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the RNC should have listened again to Nixon's Checkers speech where the future VEEP spells out clearly the dangers for populist-pandering politicians of wearing mink versus a "good old Republican cloth coat."

Posted by: Ted Frier on October 22, 2008 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously though - why didn't they just hand her over to Clinton and Stacy? They could've sorted her out for $5,000 in a couple of days.

Posted by: Jennifer on October 22, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

I think this will be a much bigger and more damaging story than the high-priced Clinton and Edwards haircuts ever were, because the sums are so vastly different ($150,000 versus $400); the economy is widely viewed as tanking; and the McCain/Palin campaign has already badly damaged its standing among pundits and mainstream conservatives (note the growing list of "Obamacons"). The only folks who are still willing to cut McCain some slack are low-info voters and idiots like Kristol. The McCain campaign just blew its chance to capitalize on Obama's brief campaign hiatus, and it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of feces-flingers.

Thank God (in whom I believe, liberal though I may be, thank you very much) that McCain chose Palin as his running mate! Not only is her future in national politics severely threatened, she may very well be booted out of state politics once this interminable campaign ends. It couldn't happen to a more deserving pathological liar.

Posted by: LisaJo on October 22, 2008 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

The story says "according to financial disclosure records". Would there be disclosure forms covering October yet, or am I right that all of this expense came in just September?

Posted by: Shalimar on October 22, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK


It's going go be quite a tag sale at RNC headquarters next month...

Posted by: C.B. Todd on October 22, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Oh my, so much money to dress Palin like a big-city elitist so she may represent small-town real America.

I hope it's true that the clothes will go to charity. I like the idea of "values voters" who could never afford clothes from those stores getting an opportunity to rock the Salvation Army & getting a few goodies. I like the idea of a middle-class Republican, working like mad to keep the house over the family's head & food in their bellies, but who still donated every time they could to the McCain campaign, looking out the window of the carpool they take to work because they can't afford gas & seeing a homeless woman wearing clothes from Neiman Marcus that Sarah wore first, thinking "I bought that. Son. Of. A. BITCH! I PAID FOR THAT!!!"

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 22, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

RNC and McCain's new Palin stat-er-agy: Dress her up so Republicans can dress her down. This is sort of like Barbie Doll accessories for America's Hockey Mom. How about coveralls for Joe the Unlicensed Plumber, plus a tool belt?

Posted by: Shag from Brookline on October 22, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah-Marie Antoinette.

Posted by: msw on October 22, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

$5,000 for hair and makeup?

And yet, judging from the cover of Newsweek, none of that money was spent on a decent lip-wax.

Somebody needs to look into this and pronto.

Posted by: Phil on October 22, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Um, sorry to be Miss Grundy, but about "loose" and "loosing" . . . I do not think it means what you think it means. The correct spelling is "lose" and "losing."

Posted by: LisaJo on October 22, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

That look for $150,000? They got ripped off. She looks terrible in every outfit aside from that black suit she wore at the debate, which was admittedly in good taste.

Posted by: Karl Rovelution on October 22, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Can anyone say Imelda Marcos?

Posted by: PJ on October 22, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Jennifer at 8:50 -- The bad makeup might be a cultural appeal. In the heartland, makeup isn't to make you look better, it's to make you look like you're wearing makeup.

It's also to show patriotism. Blush, foundations, and eye shadow go together like red, white, and blue. Why do you hate America?

Posted by: inkadu on October 22, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah showed up on the scene about September 1. The election is November 4. So, that's about two months. Assuming that no other money was spent on her clothes, that's about $75,000 a month, or $2,500 a day. Pricey!

Posted by: SBG on October 22, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe she could sell the clothes on eBay after this is all over.

She said in her RNC speech: "I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good ol' boys network."

But when it comes to a shopping spree at Needless Markup, she goes weak in the knee.

Posted by: George on October 22, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

It's funny, one of my friends is a fashion maven and he follows all the celebrity crap. He was talking with my wife a week and a half ago about Palin's outfits and how crazy they were and how much they must have cost. I ignored him because he's always, always talking this kind of shit.

Posted by: grinning cat on October 22, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Shop baby shop!

Posted by: allan on October 22, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Apart from its craptacular PR aspect I honestly don't know why Palin bothers. She wears Valentino couture but somehow on her, with that tattooed lipliner and tacky teased hair, it just looks like Taiwanese knock-offs. Then she opens her mouth and it doesn't matter anyway. She might as well be wearing a white sheet and carrying a burning cross.

Posted by: DanJoaquinOz on October 22, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

This is the "standard hockey mom" look. Where can I get some?? Boy she looks good and expensive - not what I would call my every day look. Sorry but this reeks of bad choices and decisions made all the way back to selecting McPain.

They could have used this time to show her shopping at Target or Kohls or Macys for her and her family and paid thousands of dollars cheaper and she would have won over huge amounts of moms on limited budgets. Bad move. Bad press from all this will ensue.....and rightly so.

Posted by: wom45 on October 22, 2008 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Jennifer, she does wear the same jackets more than once, and I doubt she spent 10 minutes shopping; these items were selected for her and she was told to wear them.

Someone could, and should, write a fascinating piece on the physical packaging of Sarah Palin, including but not limited to her clothes. There have been some interesting decisions made: to always put her in separates rather than pretty suits (less threatening to much of the base, but not very vice presidential); to have her wear four-inch spike heels at all times (great go-dancing shoes, but again, not particularly serious looking for her situation); to select things like that red leather jacket (please) and a satin jacket with a sheer mesh panel for the convention (WTF?); to apply more (often too much) makeup, cut her bangs unfashionably short and add totally unsubtle highlights to her hair.

The final product emphasizing a sort of low-rent sexiness rather than workaday seriousness is no accident. They are marketing her as a very pretty (and she is) woman rather than as a substantive candidate -- and yes, they've made a distinct choice between the two even beyond her inability to do substance -- but they're trying hard to make it a safe, religiously acceptable sort of sexiness, the kind that plays well with Republicans who are as prurient as the next Americans but scream and yell at overt sexuality.

Posted by: shortstop on October 22, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The jokes on this have to started coming out right away:

What'll be the biggest spending item for the McCain Administration- the $700 billion bailout or Sarah's charge account at Neiman- Marcus

Fed Chairman Bernanke was going to ask Congress for a massive new spending bill to boost the consumer economy, but he realised Sarah's taking care of it by herself.

Posted by: MikeN on October 22, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I don't care what anyone says, as a science fiction fan, I like Sarah Palin's outfits. She dresses like the evil pirate princess from Buck Rogers, or a representative from the court of Emperor Ming from Flash Gordon.

Posted by: inkadu on October 22, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

“America just can’t afford another big spender in the White House.” - Sarah Palin, Oct. 12, 2008.

Whoops.

Posted by: George on October 22, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Is the auctioning going to include her lingerie? Some guys at the Corner would probably pay enough to retire the campaign debt.

Posted by: demisod on October 22, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Imagine being an RNC small donor this morning, and learning that your $20 went towards a whole new wardrobe for the Palin family

Good thing McPain doesn't believe in the redistribution of wealth.

Posted by: Maya on October 22, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Bush: "I encourage you all to go shopping more."

Palin: "Yes, sir, Mr. President."

Posted by: George on October 22, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

They should have had Cindy put it all on her credit card and then ask for reimbursement next month.

Posted by: Th on October 22, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

@ shortstop, 9:35 - also fascinating to watch YouTube clips of an interview when she was running for mayor, and clips from the gubernatorial debates. She seemed telegenic but drab and low-energy in the mayor's race; spiffed up by the time she ran for governor, but still not the high-wattage TV presence she is today. How did she engineer this? I'm guessing that her Leadership Institute training was part of it, plus the emergence of so many role models on Fox News, and the adrenalin that comes from applauding crowds. But still - wish we knew more, just out of curiosity.

Posted by: mmiddle on October 22, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

My friends, remember is Country Club first.

Posted by: Ted76 on October 22, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

One thing I have not seen pointed out yet is that this is illegal as well. I was a treasurer of a congressional campaign recently and I had to put a stop to the purchase of a new suit for the candidate because the FEC explicitly forbids this under the law. Maybe presidential campaigns are slightly different or the fact the RNC purchased the clothes makes the difference but I really don't think so.

Posted by: Peter on October 22, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

And here, all along, I thought that Imelda Marcos was dead. Silly me....

Posted by: Steve W. on October 22, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who thought of Nixon's Checker's Speech instantly when I heard this.

Paraphrasing, "A good Republican cloth coat is good enough for Pat"

Posted by: James White on October 22, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah's lust for high couture goes back a dozen years. Some weeks ago I came across this old story from the Anchorage Daily News on some blog that I can't recall; it was amusing but I really didn't think much about it. In retrospect, I think it says a lot about her, and how she has taken advantage of the "opportunities" that have recently come her way:

http://www.adn.com/sarah-palin/story/513604.html

Alaskans line up for a whiff of Ivana (April 3, 1996)
By Tom Bell / Anchorage Daily News

Editor's note: This story was originally published April 3, 1996

Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana.

And there, at J.C. Penney's cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist.

''We want to see Ivana,'' said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, ''because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.'

......

I guess if you smell like salmon, there's nothing like a $75K binge at Neiman Marcus to take it away!

Posted by: bluestatedon on October 22, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK
The RNC spent $150,000 on one family in seven weeks. Frankly, I'm not even sure how one family can spend that much so quickly. We're talking about an average of more than $2,000 a day, every day, since late August.

Looked at a different way, assuming it was spread out over every member of the immediate family (including Trig), that's about $320 per family member per day from the announcement to the election.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 22, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

While we're talking about Palin's wardrobe, any one notice this little malfunction?

Posted by: AK Liberal on October 22, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop: "Someone could, and should, write a fascinating piece on the physical packaging of Sarah Palin."

Interesting, too, to compare Sarah Palin's and Hillary Clinton's wardrobes and the media treatment of it. Remember all the attention Clinton got for her wardrobe, her pants suits and jewel-tone jackets? She was criticized for looking like "the softer side of Sears" and her fashion choices were fair targets for commentary. Jeeze.

Posted by: PTate in MN on October 22, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Eh - this doesn't surprise me. I think she is an attractive woman. In fact, her whole family is good looking. But in pictures taken during her tenure as governor, she looked like your average middle class woman. Some Target, some LL Bean, etc. Now that she's on a national stage, she has to look sharper and she has to look consistent, and she does. Her clothes are much more tailored and sophisticated, and her hair and makeup is done better, as it should be. When you're traveling from place to place making public appearances, you can't allow yourself to be at the mercy of 10 different local make-up artists and hair-sylists per day, or you'd look like an escapee from a mental institution. In the interest of consistency, she needs a stylist to travel with her. It's no big deal. Now, I'm just wondering how I can get nominated to national office because I'm in the market for a little makeover magic myself!

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on October 22, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

When they decide on the spin, they can use it for John McCain's loafers too.

A twofer!

I don't recall their addressing how regular guy John McCain, he of the 5 million dollar income, affords such nice shoes.

Assuming they come up with something good, John Edwards can take notes if he can rise from the ashes.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 22, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

hell, if i was a plumber makin 250k a year, i still couldnt afford wifey blowin 75k at neiman!

All the plumbers in the house pull your pants up!!

la la la la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Posted by: christAlmighty on October 22, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

You know, Saks Fifth Avenue is (or used to be) famous for its liberal returns policy. The RNC could just take everything back and use the money (or credit) to dress some future piece of mutton as lamb.

Knotty ethical problem solved by cynical, sleazy machinations! You're welcome.

Posted by: Anon on October 22, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Someone could, and should, write a fascinating piece on the physical packaging of Sarah Palin, including but not limited to her clothes.

And then compare it to that for Monica Lewinsky's friend, whose name I forget, but was packaged like a Xmas present.

Posted by: Gregory on October 22, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

The final product emphasizing a sort of low-rent sexiness rather than workaday seriousness is no accident. They are marketing her as a very pretty (and she is) woman rather than as a substantive candidate

Not that I disagree, shortstop, but I'd point out that Palin absolutely plays along with this packaging. The best description I heard of her performance in the VP debate, with all her winks and "you betchas", was that she acted like she was trying to pick America up in a bar. Yeccch.

Posted by: Gregory on October 22, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I don't care much about the expenditures, except that they will sound terrible to the average voter, which is fine by me.

Political candidates trade in part on their appearance, and Palin clearly more than most. For women the standard is higher (try to imagine a woman politician succeeding with the female equivalent of a Jim Trafficant hairdo), so it is clear that they are going to be spending a lot on clothes and hair. Without the 'hot babe - VPILF' factor going for Palin, the McCain-Palin ticket would probably be 10-15 points lower, so the expenses have arguably been a very good investment. Also, I rather admire her for taking her family along so often on trips.

However, 1) the money needs to be handled legally with respect to what's taxable and what's deductible, and she seems not to be reporting the travel reimbursements for family travel as taxable income.

2) I'm impressed by the juxtaposition of Palin's luxuries not just with Democratic haircuts but especially with the fake right-wing outrage over the fake story about Michelle Obama ordering a deluxe meal. The latter struck me as clearly coded racism: who in their right mind would care if Michelle had ordered lobster and caviar, and why the heck shouldn't she treat herself if she ends up in a deluxe hotel? I'm guessing that the reason folks on the right got hyper about it is that they perceived caviar to be 'above her station', or in short, uppity. So I'm curious to see how right-leaning media commentators react to Palin's luxuries.

Posted by: N.Wells on October 22, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

No matter the amount of money the rnc spends to dress up the palin's...


You can't polish a turd.


Cindy McCain is also a turd under her nip/tuck outfits.

Posted by: vwmeggs on October 22, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

It does give new meaning to the moniker "Caribou Barbie."

Sure, a campaign wardrobe is a relevant item but $150,000!

Then again, I'm pretty sure that the main reason Simple Sarah went into politics was for the salary.

Posted by: Shrike58 on October 22, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's simple, really.

Palin is the biggest disaster to hit the party in many, many years. Her job was to boost the campaign. Instead, it's destroying it, and at the same time destroying her future - as voters get to see the seamy underbelly of her career.

Ergo, the party owes her, big time. Keep her happy, or she'll go off the reservation and do something REALLY damaging...

Posted by: Daddy B on October 22, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

BLAME IT ON CINDY

The person behind Sarah's new look has to be Cindy McCain -- whose own clothing verges on fabulous (and would be if she was on the world stage). Gov Palin's clothing, pre Cindy, might have been appropos for Alaska but was totally unflattering and rank amature compared to the kind of dress everyone on the national stage wears.

Kurt

Posted by: Kurt on October 22, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I disagree, shortstop, but I'd point out that Palin absolutely plays along with this packaging.

Well, yeah. Lord, no one thinks I was painting her as a victim, I hope.

Without the 'hot babe - VPILF' factor going for Palin, the McCain-Palin ticket would probably be 10-15 points lower, so the expenses have arguably been a very good investment.

Absolutely. They chose her for that factor, her gender, her ostentatious religiosity and her anti-choice views (and for nothing else), so of course they're going to pump money into it. I'm only surprised (but not that much) at the amount they spent through September. Did they not think that number would get out? How freaking stupid are they that they didn't realize families eating Ramen noodles and shopping for clothes at Sally's would be shocked by this?

Also, I rather admire her for taking her family along so often on trips.

Ugh. When was the last time Piper or Willow was in school? Are they even enrolled this fall? Can you imagine the outcry if Sasha (did I spell that right, or does it have a C in it?) and Malia Obama were constantly on the campaign trail instead of going to school?

Posted by: shortstop on October 22, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin is turning out to be every Republican's worst nightmare: a welfare queen. But say, that girl do look nice . . .

Posted by: Achshav on October 22, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Spending campaign contributions on clothes is prohibited. Specifically. Unambiguously.

I saw the text this morning and didn't bookmark it. Sorry.

Posted by: duBois on October 22, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ask and you shall receive:

One of the problems with this is that it is specifically illegal to use political donations for clothing and I don't see any exemption for, "We always intended to give the clothes to charity after the campaign":

See 2 USC 439b(2)(B)

(b) Prohibited use
(1) In general
A contribution or donation described in subsection (a) of this section shall not be converted by any person to personal use.
(2) Conversion
For the purposes of paragraph (1), a contribution or donation shall be considered to be converted to personal use if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate's election campaign or individual's duties as a holder of Federal office, including--
(A) a home mortgage, rent, or utility payment;
(B) a clothing purchase;
(C) a noncampaign-related automobile expense;
(D) a country club membership;
(E) a vacation or other noncampaign-related trip;
(F) a household food item;
(G) a tuition payment;
(H) admission to a sporting event, concert, theater, or other form of entertainment not associated with an election campaign; and
(I) dues, fees, and other payments to a health club or recreational facility.


Posted by: The Other Ed on October 22, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

AK Liberal on October 22, 2008 at 10:35 AM :
"While we're talking about Palin's wardrobe, any one notice this little malfunction ?"

PRICELESS!!!

More evidence of what an ignoramus she is!!!

Posted by: on October 22, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

See 2 USC 439b(2)(B)

While it's clear that contributions to an individual campaign can't be converted, I think it's an ambiguity as to whether this would apply to donations to the RNC.

Posted by: Stefan on October 22, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Huffington Post has a slideshow with before and afters- including a photo of the 7 year old with her very own Louis Vuitton bag - Give me a break!

Posted by: crk on October 22, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

This just screams for an SNL skit. Can you imagine what they could do having Cindy and Sarah on a shopping spree, charging it all on the campaign Visa card? Who would play Cindy?

Posted by: bdop4 on October 22, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

You can't pour syrup on shit and make it pancakes!!!

Posted by: nicole on October 23, 2008 at 4:15 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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