Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sarah Palin's wardrobe issue

I've been asked to comment on the recent news story about Sarah Palin's wardrobe and that the GOP spent $150,000 on her. Well, it's a non-issue with me, because it was the GOP that spent that money, and not the taxpayer. It's their money, and if they want to spend it dressing up their "Caribou Barbie" to look more professional, then fine. Just don't stick us with the bill later.

Yes, Palin's trying to sell an image of being a "Josephine Six-Pack", and the $150,000 sum is not an amount that the average American worker would spend on their wardrobe. But c'mon - she's on the national stage of a very public campaign. She can't exactly go around in jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt! And even though I don't have a wife, even I know that women spend more time and money on their appearance. Us dudes want women to look attractive, so we have to understand that women have to work at it to look the way they do.

It seems to me that if we're going to look at how much one candidate spends on their wardrobe, then let's go ahead and see how much they ALL spend on their wardrobe. After all, wouldn't it be sexist just to look at how much was spent on the lone female candidate? To be fair, let's go ahead and see how much was spent on the wardrobes of the other three male candidates, and let's also factor in that they (at least to the best of our knowledge!) don't wear make-up or have their nails done and other such things that women do for their appearance.

Nope, so long as it's the GOP spending their dough on her, then it's a non-issue with me.


blackink said...

Yo, JP. They do look at how much the campaigns spend on wardrobes for the other candidates. The reason you haven't heard anything about it is because either: 1. the candidates bought and wear their own clothes; 2. the amounts were nowhere in the ballpark of $150K.

Even you've got to admit that's ridiculous. You telling me the RNC wouldn't have been better served spending those funds on some of their struggling candidates?

I mean, it wasn't like Sarah Palin came onto the scene as a pauper. Her family owns their own plane, for goodness sake. She really needed that much in wardrobe? You think a $150K makeover was really necessary? $25K wouldn't have been sufficient?

Not to mention, apparently, the Palins don't pay very often for their kids to travel - now that's on the Alaska taxpayers' dimes.

In the end, it's also a story because Sarah Palin has tried to bill herself as this ordinary, middle-class hockey mom when nothing could be further from the truth. It looks a little obscene that the GOP would spend this much money to dress up their candidate during this sort of economic crisis. It's almost as if the Palins are doing their part to boost sagging national retail sales.

Just think, what would the reaction have been if the same thing happened but it was Hillary Clinton?

John P. Araujo said...

If the DNC had spent $150k on Hillary’s wardrobe, I have no doubt that Rush, Sean, and the rest of the conservative talk show corps would have been complaining just as much about that as Palin’s critics are complaining about Palin – and with the same “you say you’re ‘working class’ but you don’t spend like it” arguments.

Actually, Hillary is an excellent example of how things are different for women running for office than for men. Remember the cleavage issue? Judging by the ridiculous amount of press that it got, you’d think Hill had flaunted her boobs like a Hooters girl! I cannot for the life of me see this issue being brought up with Barack Obama and John Edwards (her rivals at the time), even if they flaunted butt cleavage.

Yes, I admit that $150K is a ridiculous amount, but to say that the other male candidates don’t spend anywhere near that amount isn’t exactly fair, because they basically need suits, suits, suits, and also suits, while the women have to have a variety of attire that I couldn’t keep up with even with an Excel program – not to mention accessorizing the shoes, makeup, jewelry, purse, hair, and so forth. We don’t hear as much about what Obama, Biden, or McCain wear, because it’s pretty much going to be a suit.

And you would think that, since the GOP’s campaign funds are much less than Obama’s, they’d be wise to budget what they spend. In fact, perhaps it would have been a good PR move for her to make her clothing purchases from a Target’s or a Wal-Mart’s to emphasize her “working class” image. However, this was the GOP’s first female candidate, and an argument could be made that they overreacted in trying to polish her appearance. With no GOP precedent to work from, they were going with their gut feeling on what they needed to do. Could they have spent $25k as you said? I’m very sure that it’s possible. But if the GOP blew that $150k, it was their own money that they blew, not mine.

As to whether it looks obscene spending that much money during an economic crisis – from what I understand, this was spent before the economic crisis. However, it is still a freakin’ lot of money to spend, and money they really couldn’t afford to spend. In regards to the Alaska story, I remember hearing about how the Alaska taxpayers ended up paying some of Palin’s expenses. While we are talking two separate budgets, both these stories could be used as an example of a pattern for her, so I’m open to discussion on this topic.

Ah, and one last thing: This story can be worked to the Dems’ advantage – not with “a real blue collar woman couldn’t afford to spend that much on her wardrobe” argument, but with “The GOP is so desperate that they’d spend that much to make their candidate look that good” argument. The McCain camp is looking desperate, and this $150k wardrobe story is another example of that desperation. That’s the argument that I think the Dems should pursue.

blackink said...

I really haven't blogged about this much at my spot because, well, there's so much more the GOP can take a hit for over the past few days.

But this nugget from The Huffington Post is too hard to resist. Pretty much sums up why this is a story:

Indeed, a look at some ad buy statistics provided by a Democratic source shows that the RNC put more money down on Palin's attire than they and the McCain campaign have spent on a weeks-worth of advertising in half a dozen, potentially, swing states.

From October 13th through October 19th, the McCain campaign and the RNC spent a combined $125,000 on advertisements in New Hampshire, roughly $90,000 in West Virginia, and $86,000 in Maine. In each of those states, the Republican ticket is fighting Obama for a small but potentially significant number of electoral votes.

In North Dakota and Georgia, the RNC and the McCain campaign did not spend a penny on advertising during that same week. These two states seem likely to break for McCain, but it is not inevitable: Obama could potentially pick off their votes.

In Indiana, the RNC spent $450,000 last week on ads while the McCain campaign did not spend anything. An additional $150,000 could have meant 33% more airtime over the course of a week.

Then there is Michigan. The GOP pulled out of the state a few weeks ago and so hasn't spent any cash on advertisements there. The $150,000 they put down on Palin's clothes would not have purchased much airtime in that large market, but it may have saved McCain from the public criticism that he was subjected to for abandoning the state.