Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Sarah Palin and the Needless Mark-up

Sarah Palin and I do not exactly see eye to eye on a number of policy issues, but personally, I don't begrudge her or any woman who had dressed her entire life from a consignment store (or so she says) a $150,000 shopping trip to Neiman Marcus, or Needless Mark-up, as it's known. As we know, women in the public eye are scutinised in ways that men are not, and Hillary Clinton's attempts to look presentable for the hostile attention of a merciless media shows what happens when you get it wrong. Not being a hockey Mom, I don't feel betrayed by the shopping. I never thought she was anything like me. I'm sorry she doesn't get to keep the outfits when she returns home to Anchorage next Wednesday, as consolation prize for not becoming vice president. Inshallah.

35 comments:

Geraldine said...

Inshallah, indeed!

Tiah said...

I agree. I think she was an appalling choice for GOP vice presidential candidate. But her politics alone give the media enough to write about, leaving little excuse for stooping so low to discuss her wardrobe.

Anonymous said...

Consolation for not becoming vice president? Did America hold the election already?

lagatta à montréal said...

Yeah, little as I like her for many reasons of substance, I thought this was a non-issue and have been arguing it on discussion boards. Anyone who has worked on a TV or film production knows what a significant item wardrobes are in the budget. I'm sure Hillary's trouser suits (ugly though they often were) must have cost a pretty penny. Barak and Michelle Obama have a height advantage...

There is the issue what was seen as hypocrisy, though this may be in part an expression of the anti-intellectualism and "anti-elitism" that dominates in all shades of US politics (as Monbiot's Guardian comment today outlines). Elitism as defined by education and style, not wealth or power. Even to Canadians just across the border, that is a mystery. Even among hockey mums.

Hockey mums, or moms, aren't necessarily poor - they are dressed practically to shepherd their child to the local arena for early-morning practice. It costs a lot to kit out a young player these days, and in my neighbourhood, the local arena has been permanently shut down due to a lack of funding.

On a completely different subject, I've been avoiding work by looking at the Guardian's photo history of high heels. Though they could have gone back to a painting of Louis XIV!

rb said...

I am not sure anyone's mad at Sarah Palin personally about this, but the fact that the campaign thought this was a good idea and the dismissive, "I can't believe we're talking about pantsuits," response are troubling.

Madeline said...

So the election that has yet to take place is a foregone conclusion? Inshallah. I guess no one need actually bother to vote on Nov 4, then.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. $150,000 is an excessive amount for clothes - think of it, that's 150 outfits at $1000 each - and it is possible to believe that Sarah Palin didn't intend to keep the clothes, until the cost became public?

desertwind said...

From you to God's ear!

FWIW, that consignment shop Sarah favors ain't exactly the Sally Army. It specializes in high-end designers "not available anywhere else in Alaska". Don't you believe for a second she "didn't ask for or want those clothes." She's a diva and she knows how to work the system.

Too funny that McCain & the RNC can't get her to shut up about the clothes! She's making sure the issue stays in the news.

What a pleasure watching the Republican circular firing squad.

She ain't gonna be VP, but she'll be plaguing us for years. How can you keep 'em down in Alaska, after they've been on TV?

phyllis said...

I guess she needed something to compensate for her lack of ability in the talent competition portion of the election.

Anonymous said...

Desertwind, I'm impressed with your ability to read Palin's mind! Can you also predict the next winning lottery number? And, now, Palin is guilty of coveting high-end clothes at a consignment shop! Oh, my. The poor woman is not allowed to enjoy nice clothes? Obama wears $1500 suits. For many women, Palin is a new femininst icon so get used to
her---Read what Camille Paglia says about Palin. http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2008/09/10/palin/

Anonymous said...

To those who dismiss Palin, I suspect you haven't a clue about her very effective governorship of Alaska. Read on...
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjEyMzk3MWU4Yzk1NGQyMWYwZjk0OTcyNmEzYTM5N2E

Anonymous said...

I think women have been beaten up enough by men over time without women now joining in. Women denigrating other women is vile and repulsive. You may not agree with Palin's political views, but, don't belittle her.

miss cavendish said...

I'd be tempted to subtitle this post "The Clothes on Her Back," but I wouldn't want to taint the fine original by association . . .

Anonymous said...

Judging from the nasty and petty comments about Palin, it's clear style and class do not always go together.

Mae Travels said...

Refocus. Sarah Palin didn't go on a shopping trip. The RNC sent shoppers to all those stores to dress her (and her family) in the style they thought would sell on the campaign trail. They hired hairdressers and makeup artists from Hollywood. So she's not a real person to them: she's Caribou Barbie. Change her dress! Play with her hair! Make her look presidential! Oh, wait.

Filthy old men.

Anonymous said...

So pleasant to see women belittling a mother (of a Down's Syndrom baby, no less. So very classy), a wife and a
governor of a state: You get to denigrate three women all in one! Nice!

Deja Pseu said...

mae travels has it right...this tone-deaf maneuver rests squarely on the shoulders of the the McCain campaign itself.

rosaria said...

www.dresslikepalin.com allows users to see how much clothing they could get for $US150,000. The site features a picture of Palin, dressed in her signature red suit, on one side of the webpage, and clothing and accessories on the other. Dragging and dropping designer clothing, boots or even a wig onto Palin shows that the item cost the Republican Party, and what it could have been spent on.

This has been set up by the 80,000member California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organising Committee.

Palin's $US600 royal blue Tahari skirt would outfit 60 nurses in scrubs.

Personally, even though I can't stand Palin's politics, I think they should give her a break. This is stupid and petty, considering the much bigger expenses of the campaign.

I'm hard pressed to come between a woman and her right to look fabulous, as long as it isn;t vulgar excess.

Deja Pseu said...

and Eliza Doolittle seems to have her own agenda after all...

desertwind said...

Oy. It's the hypocrisy.

What I would've advised Sarah Palin?....Just admit you (or they for you) bought the nice duds (and the spray-on tan and the hair extensions and the makeup) because women in public life are judged partly by the packaging of their looks.

Also admit that you enjoy looking good. Who doesn't?

And then laugh it off!

I don't presume to know why SP (and her surrogates openly warring with McCain surrogates) keeps bringing it up, thereby extending the news cycle of Niemansgate.

A suspicious mind might think SP herself believes she won't be the next VP and she's distancing herself from McCain as she cements her natural alliance with certain factions of the Republican party & prepares for her political future.

Linda Grant said...

On the road for the past week, I have had a lot of time to spend in Canadian hotel rooms watching CNN. I have just seen Obama's infomercial and Larry King's interview with McCain. One candidate talks like he's going to President next week, the other as if he's delivering his swan song. My prediction is the the Democrats will win the election and Sarah Palin will begin her campaign to become next leader of the Republican Party. I'm sure we'll all have a lot to say about her in the future.

Anonymous said...

Rosaria just think of how many nurses outfits could have been purchased with the millions of dollars Obama spent on his infomercials tonight.

gelinda said...

Readers in other political systems may not understand that there is a big difference in how some of us look at the wardrobes of the candidates and their spouses.

Whatever we think of John McCain, Cindy McCain, the Obamas or the Bidens and their clothing, they purchased it themselves.

Governor Palin's clothes, makeup, and hairstyling came from funds donated to the Republican party by people who most likely assumed the money would be spent in the traditional ways such as advertising, etc. I guess you could argue that the Governor's appearance falls into that category but when John Edwards billed his campaign $400US for a haircut, the screaming from the Right was deafening. So what's the difference when it's a woman.

Just being a woman, a mother, and yes, even the mother of a special needs child, doesn't give you a free pass when it comes to throwing yourself into politics. I disagree with virtually everything Governor Palin stands for but her not noticing the problem the clothing bill would create speaks to her tin ear regarding the packaging of a party.

Anonymous said...

Being a mother should give one a free pass to respect, decency and civilized conduct.

Deja Pseu said...

Actually, being a human should "give one a free pass to respect, decency and civilized conduct."

That doesn't make anyone immune from criticism, however.

Anonymous said...

SP has not merely been criticized, she's the object of PDS: Palin Derangement Syndrome. The lady has come quite far from being a mere hockey mom and her character isfarmore important than her politics. I'm not pro-life as she is, however, it's nevertheless a virtuous position.

madame suggia said...

I don't like her politics-quite frankly she scares the bejesus out of me-but I think it's just pathetic that anyone, of any political hue, should seek to make capital out of this. But then I shouldn't be surprised, lots of the comments on Hilary Clinton (when running for nomination) were focused on what she wore, not on what she said. Boring, lazy. shortsighted journalism. Pah!

Gabrielle said...

I frankly *don't* have much respect for Palin. I feel that her tenure in AK has been pretty corrupt, actually (see Palin and Pebble mine, Palin and polar bears, Palin and per diem, etc.) In fact, her wardrobe is a welcome distraction from her performance and her policies.

rosaria said...

Anonymous: Re - the nurses scrubs and Obama's 30-minute infomercial on prime time TV. I thought exactly that!! The informercial cost $US5 million. That's a lot of scrubs and medicine where it's needed the most. American health care needs a massive overhaul.

gelinda said...

U.S. healthcare most definitely needs a total overhaul and the California Nurses Association/NNOC has been in the forefront of the effort to reform it at every level.

CNA/NNOC worked hard to get nurse/patient safe staffing ratios in place in California initially and now is working toward this goal in other areas.

The "dress Sarah" website was intended to draw attention to the candidates and their stands on healthcare in the midst of the flap about the RNC's expenditure on her wardrobe.

This organization also ran a great ad pointing out that if VP Cheney didn't have the superb health coverage he does, he might not have survived all his medical problems.

What we want is the same chance for all Americans.

Geraldine said...

Lovely comment from Tom Baker on HIGNFY. "Sarah Palin - puts the ALAS! into Alaska." :)

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who has worked on a TV or film production knows what a significant item wardrobes are in the budget."

Last I heard, this was not a movie. Moreover, her campaign has been based on her supposed understanding of "Joe Six Pack."

It's hypocrisy, pure and simple.

"Inshallah" -- that was a great way to end a post about someone who has gone out of her way to be a Muslim-baiter.

Jane said...

I loathe Sarah Palin's politics but think that fashion and female politicians have to be filed under 'You Just Can't Win'. If she looks sexy, that's wrong, if she wears baggy stuff, that's wrong too. Jacqui Smith got the most terrible flak for showing a bit of cleavage, remember? And before anyone knew Mo Mowlam was ill she was delightfully described as resembling a 'transvestite truck driver'. Condoleeza Rice was slaughtered for wearing a pair of sexy boots - once. She never wore them again.

Robo said...

Oh that was brilliant. Especially with the "Inshallah." Ameen to that.

hollarback said...

Well I think the overriding point is that the purchase of clothing is a prohibited use under the campaign finance laws that McCain himself championed. It seems illegal.


439a. Use of contributed amounts for certain purposes
(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;

etc...It's pretty clear.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/2/usc_sec_02_00000439---a000-.html