October 21, 2008

Palin Comparison

A couple of news stories about Sarah Palin and her family get me thinking a bit about how differently our culture--or at least the media and the people who parrot it--treat men and women in the same job.

Politico reports that the Republican National Committee spent nearly $150,000 on hairdressing, makeup, and "campaign accessories" in September, expenses which did not appear in earlier months. It's all attributed, it seems, the expense of outfitting Sarah Palin and her family with clothing from "Real America": Nieman Marcus ($75,000), Saks ($49,000), Bloomingdale's ($5,100) and Barney's ($789, which doesn't get you very much at Barney's, frankly).

There's also $4900 at a Minneapolis menswear store, presumably getting some suits to make Todd Palin and baby daddy-to-be Levi Johnson more presentable.

The entries also show a few purchases at Pacifier, a top notch baby store, and Steiniauf & Stroller Inc., suggesting $295 was spent to accommodate the littlest Palin to join the campaign trail.
Uh, perhaps. Pacifier is well-known as an industry leader in Bugaboo cupholder-stocking, but I think "Steiniauf & Stroller" is actually an inaccurate OCR scan of Steinlauf & Stoller, a sewing supply store in NYC. I can't find the exact RNC disclosure form these expenses are listed in, but it seems pretty clear.

The article points out that the Obama campaign has no comparable wardrobe expenses, and no apparent family outfitting-related expenses. But while it could be interesting to discuss the different standards male and female candidates are held to, the vast extent of the RNC's imagemaking and the wingnut pundits' selective condemnations drown out most of the argument.

Palin's hairstyling bill was $4,700 last month, which works out to around twelve times the $400 stylist's bill the Democratic campaign paid for John Edwards to make a 2004 TV appearance. That $400 haircut has become the rightwing media's talisman for Edwards and his frivolity ever since ["and also with you--and your $400 haircut"]. I last heard Sean Hannity cite it a couple of months ago to prove that Edwards' freshly revealed marital infidelity was obviously morally different than John McCain cheating on and then dumping his first wife for Cindy.

What's more interesting to me, and the reason I'm posting any of this here [besides the cheap buzz I get from factchecking the Stroller/Stoller thing] is the way the clothing expenses resonate with how the Palins treat their professional and personal spheres, work and family, as totally inseparable. And here, I do think there is a significant gender gap.

An AP investigation shows that Sarah Palin regularly expensed her children's travel, both for out-of-state trips and as the kids shuttle between Wasilla and Juneau. So far, they've been reimbursed for $21,000 worth of children's airfare and hotel rooms. Palin amended her past expense reports to state that the kids were always "conducting official state business," a legal requirement for reimbursement.

The only other Alaska governor to have had school-age children while in office was Tony Knowles [1994-2002]. He is quoted saying, "There was no valid reason for the children to be along on state business...I cannot recall any instance during my eight years as governor where it would have been appropriate to claim they performed state business."

Now Knowles lost an election to Palin in 2006; he's a Democrat, and an Obama supporter. But I can't help but think that Palin faces additional scrutiny because she's a working mother. Clearly, no one but the governor would be able to get away with expensing so much family travel. But would a male governor even have tried? Isn't the default setting just to leave the wife and kids at home?

I'm pretty sure Sarah Palin is corrupt, dishonest, dangerous, and disastrously unprepared to be president. And from what little we know--crackhead son forced into the army, daughter knocked up by high school dropout, extensive use of children as political props--the Palins don't seem to be particularly admirable parents. But I can still appreciate her apparent determination to not let her job keep her from her kids.

RNC appears to shell out $150K for Palin fashion [politico]
AP INVESTIGATION: Alaska Funded Palin Kids' Travel [ap/yahoo]


The real question is how did she get a room at the Ritz Carlton for only 215, when it goes for $399?

yeah, i was thinking that too. must be a conference rate

I dunno. It's admirable that she wanted her family to be with her, I guess, but she essentially ripped off, well, I don't know who, since Alaskans don't seem to pay much if any in taxes. If she so wanted the kids there, she should've paid for them herself. I guess since she seemed to have cronies doing her work most of the time, she'd have plenty of time to spend with them on her trips. But you're right, it's hard to see a man even trying.

Oh, and crackhead son? Have I missed something really juicy?

I dunno if the source passes muster, but I'm sure it'll sell a lot of issues.


What really burns me is the "rugged, self-reliant individualist Alaskan" crap that she spouts while tarring the other "non-patriotic" parts of the country as lesser Americans.
If she feels like saying "no thanks" to all the money the rest of us lower 48 terrorist-lovers send up there, she should feel free.
AK is by FAR the biggest federal money sponge in the country, no matter how you measure it: highest per capita federal spending ($13950) or how about the federal taxes paid vs. federal spending received vs dollar of tax paid ($1.84).
Gee, it must really gall her (or not) that those people in the People's Republic of California are propping up her state budget, since they only get $0.78 back for every dollar they send to Washington.
And don't even get me started on that whole "socialist" oil revenue sharing scheme that those fellow (dogsled) travelers have. If those folks didn't get multi-thousand dollar checks every year from the government, that whole state would be as lifeless as freeze-dried moose jerky.

I don't think there's anything wrong with her having a charge for the hair and clothes. The hair costs seem reasonable for this type of campaign and when I think of my what my wife pays I'm sure this is inline for the level of styling or whatever.

The costs of the clothes however is ridiculous. But I'd guess more than one campaign adviser somewhere said "hey these hicks need to update their wardrobe if they're going to be on tv"

I'd expect Michelle Obama has some type of designer giving her cloths (i'm sure she does just didn't look it up) and perhaps Obama does too with his suits.

In the end though I think this just may tell those far right supporters that hey, guess what, they aren't just like you. These people travel in circles of power and money no matter what state they're from. Maybe they're even, gasp, elitists.

Besides the Bloomies bill I don't see how anyone could actually spend that much without getting jewelry.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is wearing sensible dresses from H&M and White House/Black Market: http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2008/10/michelle_obama_chooses_fast_fa.html

The McCain/Palin campaign's talk of how they identify with "small-town values" and regular Joe-the-plumber is stunning hypocrisy.

P.S. Thanks for the Pacifier shout-out!

So what was it that changed your mind?

August 29th:
"I must say Sarah Palin seems like an excellent VP pick for John McCain."

October 21st:
"I'm pretty sure Sarah Palin is corrupt, dishonest, dangerous, and disastrously unprepared to be president."

short answer: her opening her mouth. this clothing thing would be irrelevant if it didn't underscore Palin's status as an utter fabrication of the Kristol/Rove faction of the GOP.

long answer: The first half of that August quote helps a bit: "First off as an Obama man myself, and not knowing anything at all about her before today, I must say Sarah Palin seems like an excellent VP pick for John McCain."

I wish I could pretend that I knew she'd implode and sink his entire campaign. What I actually meant was, on paper, she looked to be a strong, strategic complement that would simultaneously appeal to the GOP base and draw in independents and women. Literally everything since then has proved to be deeply disturbing, and McCain's health and age questions make me serious about the "dangerous" comment, too.

In his post on the big Palin profile in the New Yorker, Nate Silver called her the Wikipedian Candidate. That sums up my read of her as well.

I wonder how single-dad Joe Biden handled travel when his kids were younger; did they come with, and were they conducting "official state business"?

Ritz-Carlton has very cheap corporate rates at some hotels. A couple years ago I stayed at that same Ritz in Philly for about $160 (with tax) by guessing a big bank's corporate rate discount code.

August 29th:
"I must say Sarah Palin seems like an excellent VP pick for John McCain."

October 21st:
"I'm pretty sure Sarah Palin is corrupt, dishonest, dangerous, and disastrously unprepared to be president."

Are these two statements necessarily mutually exclusive??


Ritz Carlton rate = Government Rate

Cool your jets guys. If Gov Palin wasn't wearing the finest suits, you'd laugh at her and call her a redneck. If you ever saw her wearing the same suit twice, you'd laugh and call Palin a hillbilly.

She's one of the folks who don't have the $ to have a presidential looking wardrobe.

What's the big problem (other than the obvious hate of all things Palin - or all things that are not the anointed one BO)?

Bottom line, these weren't tax dollars that paid for the styling and clothes. They were paid by the campaign, to which I contributed. If I'm not offended, you haters shouldn't be either.

I may be wrong, but I thought many contributors to the RNC are complaining about the expenditures.

Keep in mind that the RNC paid for the clothes, not the McCain campaign.. and yes, there is a difference, even if slight. These funds should be going to help Republican campaigns across the country, not just John McCain's campaign.

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