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Sarah Palin: Just dressing up for the Lower 48

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Oct. 23, 2008 at 7:49 pm with No Comments »
October 23, 2008 7:49 pm

The following editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The new rap on Sarah Palin: Her clothes are too nice.

It turns out the Republican National Committee has been outfitting the vice presidential candidate with frocks from Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and other fancy shops. It has spent something like $150,000 on her wardrobe since the beginning of September.

There are reasons to question Palin’s candidacy. Her silk jackets and Naughty Monkey pumps aren’t among them.

What’s she supposed to wear on the campaign trail, anyway? Mukluks and moose hides?

Richard Nixon scored points in 1952 when he told the nation that his wife didn’t wear mink but "a respectable Republican cloth coat."

That was then. Americans have long since stopped celebrating dowdiness. This is a country in which the clothes horses of "Sex and the City" are cultural icons. A country in which some women (not all!) aspire to $10,000 handbags. Men indulge in wretched excesses of their own, though they do it in less flashy ways.

So it’s a crime for the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket, a woman who faces TV cameras night and day, to look smart?

There’s a law against diverting campaign money to personal use. Palin would break that law if she kept the clothes after the election. But the plan is to donate the duds to charity.

If she doesn’t – unimaginable, at this point – she’ll be in trouble. If she does, some thrift-shop bargain-hunters may be pleasantly surprised. But until then, the clothes are campaign props, and private money is paying the tab.

Let’s turn to a real expert on political wardrobes, the costume designer who fancied up Geena Davis for television’s "Commander in Chief." Vicki Sanchez – an Obama supporter – told the Los Angeles Times that when she heard the RNC had spent $150,000 on Palin, "I thought, ‘That’s not much.’"

"When you start buying $3,000 suits, boots that cost anywhere from $800 and up and designer shoes, which cost $500 at least, it goes fast. She looks damn good. Get over it."

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