What not to wear
I’m so glad Sarah Palin has decided to “go rogue” . . . by bringing up her $150,000 wardrobe again. This is a brilliant political strategy, one designed not only to irritate the liberal media with their “gotcha” questions but also to shore up the Neiman-Marcus base and the Republican donors whose contributions have been put to such good use. And it’s really wonderful to see that she’s teamed up with ordinary football-mom Elisabeth Hasselbeck to take her case directly to the people.
Ensuring that news of the Republican National Committee’s sartorial spending spree will remain in the headlines for at least one more news cycle, Sarah Palin on Sunday sounded off on the $150,000 wardrobe that was purchased for her in September, denouncing the report as “ridiculous” and declaring emphatically: “Those clothes, they are not my property.”
A senior adviser to John McCain told CNN’s Dana Bash that the comments about her wardrobe “were not the remarks we sent to her plane this morning.” Palin did not discuss the wardrobe story at her rally in Kissimmee later in the day.
But in Tampa, Palin happily broached the clothing issue after being introduced by “The View” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who accused Palin’s opponents of being “fixated on her wardrobe” and “deliberately sexist.”
That opened the door for Palin to weigh in on a topic that has frustrated the candidate and her advisers since the story first broke five days ago.
“This whole thing with the wardrobe, you know I have tried to just ignore it because it is so ridiculous, but I am glad now that Elisabeth brought it up, cause it gives me an opportunity without the filter of the media to get to tell you the whole clothes thing,” she said.
This is great, great stuff. I have to wonder who’s advising Palin—because whoever they are, they are (mirabile dictu) even more brilliant than the very brilliant Dick Morris, whose most recent New York Post column advises McCain that he can pull off the upset if only he follows Morris’s Super Genius Three Stage Plan (purchasable by mail order from Acme Consulting Services). One, focus on Obama’s nefarious plans to raise the capital gains tax:
McCain should jump on the issue and challenge Obama to agree to a two-year moratorium on increases in the capital gains tax. If Obama agrees, McCain will score points for leadership. If Obama refuses, or ignores the challenge, McCain can attribute much of the drop in the market to the fear of increased capital gains taxation once Obama takes over.
Because that won’t look at all like a “suspend my campaign” kind of stunt, and it’ll help millions of struggling Americans who are wondering what to do to avoid capital gains taxes on their investment portfolios this year. Two, go after Reverend Wright, because that won’t look desperate and diversionary at this late date. Having been duly horrifed by the Tale of Bill Ayers, the American people are thirsting to learn more about Jeremiah Wright. And three, “warn voters of impending socialism in America”—as exemplified by the “recent bailout legislation [that] puts the United States government inside the ownership, management and direction of many of our major companies and financial institutions,” and which John McCain bravely oppo . . . uh, OK, never mind.
[Aside: Wouldn’t it be a hoot if this Morris tool ever actually gave advice to a real President?]
The other day Janet was talking to me about What Not To Wear—specifically, about the fact that participants are offered five thousand dollars to buy themselves a new wardrobe. Five thousand dollars is, for most people, the rough equivalent of One Entire Shitload of money for clothes, so (if you’ll allow me to call up the “calculator” function here) Palin’s budget comes out to about . . . lessee . . . thirty shitloads. Which, in clothing terms, is like a furlong multiplied by a hectare.
Now, I grant you that Sarah Palin isn’t “most people.” She’s running for Vice President, and has been on the campaign trail for over eight weeks now, so it’s only right that the Republican National Committee send out solicitations to potential contributors reading, “for less than $3,000 a day, you can clothe a worthy candidate for national office. Your donations can make a difference. Give from the heart.”
Besides, as Gov. Palin justly points out, these clothes are not her property. They’re going to charity. All across America, needy women will be warmed this winter by the high-necked jackets made famous by Sarah Barracuda. It’s sort of like that moment in Clueless when Cher donates her new skis and tennis racquet to the victims of a natural disaster:
McCain: Sarah, what are you doing?
Palin: I’m captain of the Pismo Beach disaster relief.
McCain: I don’t think they need the Valentino Garavani jacket you wore for your acceptance speech.
Palin: Daddy, some people lost all their belongings. Don’t you think that includes ensembles from Saks?
There’s no question that people are going to rally to Palin’s side once they learn the real facts behind this ridiculous story.
Please, please, please put these people in charge of the RNC for the next four years. Let the GOP braintrust be Dick Morris, Sarah Palin, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and the (remaining) crew of the National Review. And let Wingnuttia be Wingnuttia again.
Can we please stop making an issue of this non-issue? Sarah *really* does represent nicely all the hockey moms and plumber dudes out there. Heck, she’s wearing denim in NC now and singing country too. Check it out at
This PROVES, once and for all, that she’s truly a blue-collar kinda’ gal.Posted by on 10/27 at 11:44 AM
I’m so glad Sarah Palin has decided to “go rogue”
Let us give credit where credit is due. She’s the Lazarillo de Tormes of our era.Posted by on 10/27 at 11:49 AM
Damn you, J-, for being so damn smart. I was going to say “She’s the Elle Woods of our era.” Maybe I should pick up a book once in a while.
captcha: “method,” as in new rhythmPosted by on 10/27 at 11:58 AM
I beg to differ. It’s pretty harsh to compare Palin to Elle Woods, who was a] Smart, b] self aware c] funny d] compassionate and e] against animal testing.Posted by s'dog on 10/27 at 12:24 PM
Just curious as to why Morris has a 20 year old picture of himself next to his column. Does he think he will be more attractive to his hooker friends?
e.Posted by on 10/27 at 12:55 PM
They are certainly the limit.Posted by Hattie on 10/27 at 01:07 PM
I want a job as one of these political advisers. It seems that they can say pretty much anything and still be taken seriously. Let us not forget that Bill Kristol pretty much was the guy responsible for giving us Sarah Palin. His previous political superstar was Dan Quayle, who has certainly been a major figure since his VP days.
It is smarts like that that gets you a column in the NYT.
capcha: “deal” as in “what is the”Posted by on 10/27 at 01:21 PM
Thirty shitloads? That’s one and a half ass-tons!
You know, the American people (and Republican donors) need the sort of perspective on Sarah’s new clothes that only Cindy McCain can give.
See, all Cindy has to do is come out and explain that this isn’t really a big deal because $150K isn’t even enough to buy a decent pair of earrings. So see? Frugal!Posted by on 10/27 at 01:30 PM
In my recent weeks of unemployment (not to worry, btw, I chose to leave my last job & and I start a neato position at NYU in 2 weeks), I have become very familiar indeed with What Not to Wear. Which I love, even despite the terrible incident in which they threw away a philosophy grad student’s “Don’t blame me, I’m only Hume” t-shirt.
I just finished watching the most recent (Tivoed) What Not to Wear, where they worked their five grand’s worth of magic on—wait for it—a Chicago lawyer working for the Obama campaign! Some coincidence, huh? And this is not a live show; they must’ve put it together weeks or even months ago.
Not only that, but they actually said to her, “We think you overpaid for that purple knit top.” Three hundred smackers to Agnès B. for a long-sleeved v-neck solid purple t-shirt *was* a little much. Why, for that price, you could get a pillow for Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment!Posted by Amanda French on 10/27 at 01:41 PM
I’m a hardcore Conservative and I want to know if you are coming to the Main Campus at Wright State in Dayton or the Branch in Celina? I’m interested in coming to see you. I want to see someone slam Obama because I don’t trust him. Not because I’m racist or anti-Democrat I’d vote for a Democrat if they would stand up for what I believe in and if they would stand up for my morals. Also, I believe that Obama and his pastor Wright have to be Racist because whenever they bring up that WE as White AMERICANS we enslaved the black people...and I’m sick of being blamed for being white and I’ve been raised in a free state and being I’m being blamed for causing their suffering and I’m not racist so, quit prejudging me. So, see they are being racist not I! Please let me know how you feel about, what I’ve said. Thank you...sincerely!Posted by on 10/27 at 02:36 PM
Your ideas intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
Thank you.Posted by on 10/27 at 02:45 PM
Just caught a Super Top Secret strategy email. Seems the Palin rogue maneuver is designed to intensify McCain’s maverickness. The votes he picks up this way are known as the rogue-gain.Posted by Bill Benzon on 10/27 at 02:50 PM
so the early odds for chance to run against the evil socialist empire 2012?
e.Posted by on 10/27 at 03:28 PM
I doubt I’ve spent more than 1.5 shitloads of money on clothes my entire life. And I am also quite used to being told What Not to Wear, usually as I am about to leave the house in the morning.
So perhaps you can see how I might be tempted to poke fun at earth-mother Palin for spending 30 shitloads on clothes that aren’t even hers. However, that would just reveal my own clothesism, and prove that I was being clothesist, not they! I can’t live with that.
captcha: volume—as in how can we sell at these prices?Posted by on 10/27 at 03:32 PM
"let Wingnuttia be Wingnuttia again.”
You think we Dodgers fans missed that sly allusion to Manny, don’t you?Posted by Linkmeister on 10/27 at 04:12 PM
She’s the Lazarillo de Tormes of our era.
Ah, but pícaros live by their wits.Posted by on 10/27 at 05:45 PM
I have to believe that at this point she’s more concerned about her own image than the campaign itself… though one would believe that the two have something to do with each other, she may feel that it’s a lost cause now and it’s every woman for herself. Ted Stevens’ job is opening up, looks like.Posted by Heidi on 10/27 at 06:13 PM
"And let Wingnuttia be Wingnuttia again.”
And with that Langston Hughes / Kerry reference, you get not one but two bad poems! Luckily they are each only one stanza long:
America August 2008
Two roads have diverged, and at last we can see
That Langston’s America never will be
Our song of ourselves is a jingle of lies
And hope is a thing that will peck out your eyes
America September 2008
It’s always ahead, but you know what I’ve heard?
What happens to a dream deferred?
A dream that’s a lie is an endless return
With each of us whispering “yearn, baby, yearn”
Who knows what the end of October will bring.Posted by on 10/27 at 08:47 PM
Hey Nathan @ 10—I just got back to my hotel room after speaking at the main campus in Dayton. Sorry if I missed you—and sorry to say that I didn’t say anything, good or bad, about Obama. I will, however, devote tomorrow’s post to someone who doesn’t trust him. But for the record, I honestly doubt that anyone is blaming you for slavery.Posted by Michael on 10/27 at 09:40 PM
Palinistas: Don’t miss the original song “Hoodwinked,” composed in the spirit of Arlo Guthrie but the voice of Joe Sixpack, by my friend Tom Leckey of Arlington, VA:
I believe Dr. Berube was once in a band in Charlottesville with this songwriter’s sister-in-law’s ex-boyfriend (D. Bible, M. Dean--can’t believe I figured that one out). Looking forward to your talk in Kentucky!Posted by on 10/27 at 10:39 PM
This Neiman-Marcus thing is the end of Palin. Totally screws up her anti-elitist pitch. I sense a move in Wingnuttia towards this hockey mom instead. Now she really knows how to fire up the base. Did you feel the little starbursts?Posted by on 10/28 at 12:14 AM
Tim—Now that’s a hockey mom I think all of America can identify with. Thanks! (Though I have to say that when I played the clip this morning in my hotel room, I didn’t realize my laptop was on full volume. If any of you are reading this in a hotel, check your volume first!)
Julie Marie—wow, talk about six degrees of Michael Dean.
Amanda @ 9—Great to see you here, and congratulations on the neato job! Say hello to New York for me.
And jenniebee, I think there’s an entire essay waiting to be written about Cindy McCain as the embodiment of a certain kind of Republican aesthetic. Do you feel like writing it?Posted by Michael on 10/28 at 07:55 AM
I will, however, devote tomorrow’s post to someone who doesn’t trust him.
Hah! I can smell a rat coming; I bet you’re going to post about someone who doesn’t trust him to be “left” enough. But you can’t fool us, there are none more left than Obama the Redistributor.Posted by on 10/28 at 08:42 AM
Honestly, why didn’t they just go to Macy’s? They could have bought a perfectly acceptable, stylish, non-dowdy business wardrobe for probably a tenth of what they blew at Saks and N-M.
Can’t get much more “real America” than Macy’s. They have a store at the Mall of America! And the Thanksgiving Day parade, while being in Manhattan, is about as mainstream middlebrow as you can get.
Stupid republicans with more money than sense. And thank god for that.Posted by on 10/28 at 10:25 AM
Incidentally, if the clothes are being given to charity, I await word of the founding of a new charitable Palin Foundation.Posted by on 10/28 at 10:28 AM
I wonder how much money “the boys” have spent on their wardrobes. McCain, Biden, Obama. Sure, they’re all wearing dark suits--nothing but--yet exactly how many dark suits do they have and how much did they cost? I wonder.
A good suit is in the thousands-of-dollars range, and you can bet that McCain, Obama, and Biden are wearing the very best. Plus ties… let’s not forget ties. These guys wear a different tie every day… and a good silk tie is over a hundred dollars.
I don’t really care what they do with their money or their campaign’s money as long as its not terribly nefarious (and arming a wardrobe is hardly nefarious).... but it does bother me that we’re only focusing on the woman.
Though I suppose it makes sense. Because women have spending problems, right? “Buying power suits and getting her hair done already? What terrible extravangances can we expect from this woman?? Will she spend taxpayer’s money on redecorating the White House? Its a slippery slope, folks. Don’t let that woman get her shoppin’ hands on our money!!”
Isn’t it kindly a piece of sexism?Posted by on 10/28 at 04:41 PM
If McCain is spending a lot on his wardrobe he is not getting much for his investment. He looks like he sleeps in his clothes.
(captcha “one” as in “the one")Posted by on 10/28 at 04:54 PM
Joshua, the issue isn’t sexist, it is classist. Sarah portrays herself as hockey mom, salt of the earth, everyday Joe-Mama, then lets the matrons of the RNC dress her up in the most elitist clothes possible. The hypocrisy is dripping way too much to avoid mentioning.
Of course the three US Senators have nice suits. It is the uniform of their workdays: tailored, coiffed, and manicured in the US Senate buildings; clothes purchased from fine stores using personal accounts that allow deductions from taxes; etc. Their suits were not purchased by a campaign committee seeking to heighten the fashion sense of their divas. And that is the issue.
I would think that most here have fine nice clothes to wear in their various academic duties. Most institutions have “professional attire” standards, for which one gets to deduct expenses from their taxes. I doubt however that most professors run around in $5000 suits with $10k watches and $1000 shoes.Posted by on 10/28 at 06:39 PM
spyder @ 28 - Clothes suitable for everyday wear aren’t tax-deductible, even if the taxpayer only bought them to meet an employer’s standards. So if you wear something onstage that no normal person would wear offstage, that’s deductable. But business suits aren’t.Posted by on 10/28 at 09:47 PM
Joshua, I don’t know about Obama, but Biden buys all his own clothing. And no, a good suit is not in the thousands-of-dollars range. That’s an utterly fabulous personally tailored suit. You can get a very nice, sleek, off-the-rack Calvin Klein two-piece for about $300 at Macy’s—as I did this summer. But yeah, I imagine that the candidates are wearing nicer threads than mine. The point remains that although sartorial standards for public women are much higher than they are for public men (and sure, this is sexist in its way), $150,000 is thirty shitloads of money. It really is. And because it came out of RNC funds, plenty of Republican donors and consultants are mightily pissed about it, as they should be.Posted by Michael on 10/28 at 11:13 PM
Jon, I was referring to the clothes that Senators wear which they are allowed to deduct because they are worn when they appear on TV and other media. Their choice to appear on CSPAN and on the Senate TV allows them to deduct their attire. I should have been more clear. But they certainly don’t have campaign committees purchase the clothes, nor do they attack “elites” who choose to wear similar attire; whereas Palin has made her personal campaign all about attacking people who shop in NYC and Washington DC (and certainly Chicago). Real Virginians and real Americans don’t shop at Saks, Neiman Marcus, Coach, and Gucci.Posted by on 10/29 at 02:25 AM
spyder, I don’t want to prolong this back-and-forth because people don’t come to the Dangeral One (and why not? I might add) for tax advice. That said—are you British, by any chance? In the UK, folks whose job it is to appear on television can deduct the clothes they buy for that purpose. In the US, though, the rule is different. IRS Pub 529 explains the test: You can’t deduct clothing that’s “suitable for taking the place of your regular clothing”—even if you bought it for television. The Code, in this particular instance, really does decline to give the wealthy and powerful a tax break the poor slobs who don’t have to appear on TV don’t get.Posted by on 10/29 at 06:14 AM
Tom Levenson points out, by way of comparison, that costuming Meryl Streep for <cite>The Devil Wears Prada</cite> cost only twenty shitloads of money. Mind you, since every dollar spent on those clothes is one less dollar spent on mailings and ads here in PA, I’m not really complaining.
Captcha: “find”, as in what you don’t have when you pay retail.Posted by Cosma on 10/29 at 08:12 AM
I’m going to spoil your fun like a big bleeding heart anarcho-syndicalist* left-of-Obama spoilsport and just note this: Suits and other such staples of professional working attire are incredibly expensive, but, nevertheless, considered essential for success in certain fields. A woman with a suit has a basic advantage over her fellows, and, as Palin obviously knows quite well, a ‘well-dressed’ woman has an even greater leg-up over her frumpier counterparts. There are actually a number of charities that give working women clothing that they can wear to better-paying but more sartorially-demanding jobs, the main example being:
though most any scheme for distributing clothing among poor folk attempts to do much the same thing, with less credit.
The idea of women going to interviews for, say, jobs in hospital management and low-level civil service, or to get into grad school, in Sarah Palin’s snazzy suits and separates is perhaps a bit ludicrous, but it’s only because you would think that a society that gave its sumptuous designer hand-me-downs to poor working women would do more for them in other areas, too.
Charity isn’t the same as absolution, even assuming the stuff does ultimately go to charity, and not ‘the help’ or something. But slamming the work itself is as ignorant as slamming fruit fly research because it sounds funny while ignoring its basic usefulness.
*More like anarcha-feminist. We light our bras from the fuses of the little round bomblets we carry everywhere with us.Posted by on 10/29 at 08:10 PM
Masha, my fun is not spoiled. I salute our new anarcha-feminist overlords, and will happily sing the anthem of how their burning-bra-ignited bomblets, bursting in air, gave proof through the night that their suits were still there.Posted by Michael on 10/30 at 12:43 AM
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