Politics

$150,000

Approximately $150,000 has been spent to outfit Governor Palin and her family since the beginning of September. Some people are delighted to hear it, because it makes her a target for yet another reason. (She would be Grand High Empress of the Senate, dontcha know.)

People will say, "She has to look good!" Okay, I'll buy that. But I want to ask a question. Why didn't they simply take her to
Talbot's? I bet they could have achieved a great-looking, well-made
wardrobe for a lot less money at Talbot's. I did a zip code search, and there is a complete Talbot's in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul (Talbot's Collection, shoes, accessories, all of it).

If you're a Wal-Mart or Target shopper, Talbot's is a HUGE step up.  No need to go to Saks or Needless-Markup.

The worst part: in this economy, it's yet another example of the Republican campaign's tone deafness.

Indeed, the story could not come at a more inopportune time for the McCain campaign. During a week in which the Republican ticket is trying to highlight its connection to the working class – and, by extension, promoting its newest campaign tool, Joe the Plumber – it was revealed that Palin's fashion budget for several weeks was more than four times the median salary of an American plumber ($37,514). To put it another way: Palin received more valuable clothes in one month than the average American household spends on clothes in 80 years. A Democrat put it in even blunter terms: her clothes were the cost of health care for 15 or so people.

A campaign spokesperson says it's always been the intention for the clothes to go to charity after the election. Do you mean to tell me if they WON she wouldn't need to look good anymore?

I suppose they could auction the clothes for charity on eBay.

Ultimately, I ponder this situation as a person of faith, for Governor Palin claims that definition, too. A visiting pastor prayed for her success, even for the money she would need to rise to positions of government leadership. Was he praying for her wardrobe, too? It's a disturbing time to be living out a Prosperity Gospel fantasy–that God will give you a shopping trip if you live out God's will. Right now we need what we really always need, a prophetic word calling us to care for those in need: the poor, the ill, the marginalized, the people who will never, ever shop at Saks.

33 thoughts on “$150,000”

  1. A full day yesterday which meant no news for me. So this is news to me today.
    Just when you think it cannot get more bizarre…it does!
    As a friend said just last night, though in a different context, “I’m done with these chicken###t people.”
    Yeah.

  2. As a former employee, she absolutely could have done better at Talbot’s – -or any other department store. I am appalled.

  3. Gee, I’m sort of torn on this one. I haven’t found stuff I really liked at Talbots in years. This summer they were all wide short skirts, the sort of stuff I wore 40 years ago. I love the way Nancy Pelosi dresses. She always looks polished. I used to wish that Hillary would ask Pelosi’s husband to buy her (Hillary’s) clothes. I suppose I’m old enough that what people look like matters.
    Yes, $150,000 is a lot of money. Yes, it’s a lot of money for this economy. And it’s not Pat Nixon’s cloth coat (you have to be really old to understand that reference).

  4. You don’t have to be old if you’re a student of history!
    I recognize that how people look makes a difference, but I dispute the idea that only the most expensive clothes make a woman look good. Also, did you see the things in Talbot’s Collection? They don’t carry them in all the stores, but they’re on the website. Very classy clothes.

  5. This is appalling. It’s not like they took a factory worker and put her on the ticket. This woman was already governor and presumably had a professional wardrobe. Isn’t that part of being an “experienced executive”?

  6. Ann Taylor, Macy’s, there are a lot of places she could have gotten a full wardrobe for under 10K is my guess. They probably also bought clothing for her children and husband, so add another $5K.
    It’s funny, because everyone comments on Michelle Obama’s wardrobe and a bunch of it is just off the rack (White House/Black Market, Ann Taylor, even H & M), though I’m sure there are more expensive pieces too. I read somewhere she is very aware of what message what she wears sends and considers the price.
    However, we should be thankful, that was RNC money that will not be spent on advertising for McCain or anyone else. Let her wear the campaign money.

  7. Of course she would still need to look good. But, you know, everybody’s seen that stuff. She would need more new stuff.
    -sigh-

  8. Jeepers. I always think the amount of money those in the limelight spend on clothes is mind boggling. That’s more than my yearly income. Now, what will the Republicans come up with in retaliation?

  9. OMG. That’s all I have to say that isn’t inappropriate. How does anyone think this is okay, especially coming from the party of “personal responsibility”??? So the message we’re sending is–look good at any cost, pay for it later? (sigh)

  10. I guess what gets me the most is that she’s trying to portray herself as just a regular “hockey mom” kind of person. Regular people, at least the ones I know, don’t spend that kind of money on clothes. I’ve not spent that much on clothes in my whole life added up together. Sheesh.

  11. not defending the wardrobe at all… just thinking how easy it is for any of us to criticize how others spend money. why does the family down the street, who i know all too well needs heat for their home this winter… why do they have all sorts of halloween decorations on their lawn that cost a bundle at home depot? why does the family with 3 little kids to feed & clothe, have trouble making ends meet and yet just got the big screen tv for the living room? i’ve even heard parishoners criticizing my choice of vehicle – claiming it is too new, too fancy for the pastor to drive…. and what disturbs me most of all is the sheer sexism involved in making a woman “look good”… really are we hearing how much the male candidates have spent on suits and tailoring and shoes?

  12. Hotcup, I had that thought about the male candidates…but I guarantee they didn’t spend THAT kind of money.
    Joan Calvin, is it common knowledge (that I don’t have) that Nancy Pelosi’s husband chooses her clothes? Cause otherwise I’d assume she chose and purchased them herself.

  13. We certainly heard derisive comments about John Edward’s $400 haircut, and I’ve read about the professional makeup artist John McCain used.
    The trouble here is not the money (okay, it’s a problem, too), but that the presentation of the candidate is as Everywoman Hockey Mom. Everywoman does not wear $2500 jackets, which was the approximate price of the jacket Palin wore at the Republican Convention.
    But maybe I’m just cranky because she’s pretty and happy, as some conservative commentators claimed. 😉

  14. Whoever OK-ed Palin’s clothing budget probably just thought it was a bargain compared to Cindy McCain’s single outfit at the Republican convention that was reported to cost $300,000. One outfit. She probably will never wear it again, either. (Is it any wonder I call her Trust Fund Barbie?) Of course, she has the money to pay for it. But that single outfit cost more money that I’ll make in ten years. So much for Democrats being the big spenders!

  15. I don’t feel the least bit bad about criticizing Gov. Palin and the RNC. None of them are making the choice between food or heating oil and clothes. Win or lose, they aren’t the ones who are going to suffer from the national economic disaster they have created.
    This is the equivalent of “Let them eat cake!” If they aren’t smart enough to know it, they certainly aren’t smart enough to run the country.

  16. I could probably fill my family’s clothes closets for LIFE for $150,000. Or pay part or all of the college tuition of some brilliant person who doesn’t have the money for an excellent education. Or buy a lot of hungry people a lot of inexpensive but healthy meals. Or help someone in financial trouble go a long way toward paying off their home.
    Instead, the Republicans bought a pig in a poke. They’re trying to put lipstick on a pig–you know, as in Pygmalion.

  17. I can’t even get mad anymore, just unbearably sad. “Between you and us a great chasm has been fixed.”

  18. I hadn’t heard that…oh my what a waste of money! Talbot’s was a great suggestion. Michelle Obama shops at White House Black Market (in case they don’t have these in Maine, its a store where every thing is white or black or a combo). My daughter use to work there and I recognized one of MO’s dresses…a bit more contemporary than Talbot’s….but there you are, two good choices for classy clothes at a good price.

  19. Ridiculous, esp. as she portrays herself as so “regular” along with “Joe Six-Pack.” I’m glad you posted about this–I’d already overdid it today.

  20. As you have pointed out, her identification with “small town America” “hockey moms” etc. makes this all the more appalling. I’d go so far as saying that it’s a mockery of what she claims to be. To spend that kind of money for a campaign wardrobe is ridiculous.
    Just one more thing to be dismayed about…

  21. I have noticed (in both your country and ours) that those who claim to represent the “common working folk” are often clueless. Surprisingly I find this often to be true whether the speaker is on the right or the left…

  22. Yay for son’s job…great thoughts on Moses and love the window…
    Still scratching my head over the Palin wardrobe.
    I just went to Goodwill and got $14 worth of stuff (2 pair pants, 1 sweater, a turtle neck, a Cats tee and a black long sleeved shirt for Halloween….orange tags were 50% off).
    So, uh,…when will the folsk get the idea that thrift stores are cool, money goes back into their programs, causes, etc…
    I could dress her really well, for a mere fraction of the money…and give the rest to sll Joe the Plumber, Six Pack, and the Greeter at Walmart.

  23. this is upsetting to me…as someone from the twin cities, what I mind the most is that she could have found clothing from local designers, spent half that amount, and made a statement…something like, “see? I care about all the towns, small or big, in this country, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.” We have a great local news anchor who’s clothing is designed and made almost entirely in Minnesota. True, the station spends a lot on her wardrobe, but it’s money going to pay someone’s local heating bill this winter.

  24. Katharine – I have heard that if you put lipstick on a pig it makes them much smarter because it adds to their pigmentation.

  25. I am right beside everyone in wanting to criticize Palin, and indeed there is much to criticize. She is inexperienced, uneducated, uninformed, and was chosen solely as a gimmick to attract female voters to McCain’s campaign. However, as an article on CNN this morning pointed out, a double standard does indeed exist for women in the public arena, especially in a high-profile campaign like this. While I can’t defend the exorbitant amount cash spent on her appearance, can a candidate with her lack of, well, all essential qualities necessary for public office afford NOT to have an expensively groomed exterior?
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/22/campbell.brown.looks/index.html

  26. Just out of curiousity, I wonder how much the crew at Saturday Night Live spent to create a Palin look-alike? That would be a fun little contrast-and-compare exercise!
    Gord’s comment reminds me of Adam McNaughtan’s song, “Glasgow Councillor” about a politician who, like Palin, tried to build a campaign using his “working class roots.” It includes the refrain, “I’m more working class than what you are…” and it skewers this campaign tactic beautifully. The song can be found on Sheena Wellington’s album, “Strong Women.” (Sheena’s a champion of common folk & social justice, and I’d wager she could trounce Palin, politically or otherwise!)

  27. late to the thread… i really would not have a clue how to spend that kind of money on clothing. most of what i’ve seen her wear doesn’t seem very special — and it probably shouldn’t — but if you are going for understated and classic, there are plenty of places to shop for jackets under $2500.
    my daughter and i sometimes go to needless markup just to laugh at the price tags [true story]! then we pass out dollars to every street person who asks, walking back to the train station — surely that does not make much of a dent, but it is kind of a cleansing ritual.

  28. The most interesting bit of info I gleaned from this whole bruhaha is that apparently the average American household spends around $1900/year on clothing. I’d say that’s a bit higher than what we spend at Chez Rebel. But it does inspire a modest proposal during Stewardship Season: Your financial pledge to your faith community should AT LEAST equal your annual spending on clothes.

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