Thursday, October 23, 2008

The $150,000 Clothing Budget

I can't believe I am saying this, but I actually sympathize a little bit with Sarah Palin on this $150,000 clothing budget thing. Unfortunately, women in public life are judged on how they dress. And considering that her real national constituency is right-wing males like Rich Lowry who see her as a sex object as well as a political figure, it was not unreasonable for the Republican Party to make these expenditures. Plus, it is totally legal. If Obama or McCain don't look super great all the time, it's not nearly as big a deal as if Palin had a bad fashion day. Plus, those guys do look good. They wear expensive suits and clothes.

So this is a total double standard. Frankly, it's sexist.

However, there is one important caveat. And this is where I lose most of my sympathy with Palin. She based much of her appeal around the bullshit political construction that she was like you and me. This is completely absurd. She almost nothing in common with regular people. She is like W in this way. One of the most frustrating things about the 2000 election was the whole "who do you want to have a beer with" thing. It wasn't just that it was an asinine question; it was that the obvious answer was Gore. Bush is a stupid asshole frat boy. He's like a guy in a beer commercial. You think you might want to have a drink with this person. Until you meet him. Then you realize that he is a jerk. Gore on the other hand might actually have something interesting to say and would probably want to chat with you a little. And he probably has better taste in beer.

Obviously, Palin's background is less elite than Bush, but she still lives a lifestyle that is far distant from that of "average" Americans, whatever that means. So the significance of the clothing budget is not the clothes themselves. It is the exploding of the bullshit media narrative the Republicans constructed around her.