Probably the last thing John McCain wanted to do on NBC’s Meet the Press was defend the $150,000 spent on Sarah Palin’s clothing, but Tom Brokaw asked about it and after some fumbling McCain called Palin a role model to millions and said that the American people don’t care about her clothes.
Brokaw asked McCain if the RNC’s spending of $150,000 on Palin’s clothes was a colossal mistake. McCain answered, “Look, she lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some–and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity. Look, Americans right now care about whether they’re going to stay in their homes, whether they’re going to have a job, whether they’re going to be able to keep their health insurance, if we’re going to come out of this ditch that we’re in. They want change. They want reform. She is a role model to millions and millions and millions of Americans.”
McCain didn’t answer the question which was not about Palin’s lifestyle, but the Republicans decision to spend $150,000 not on a closely contested congressional race, or efforts to get out the vote in a swing state, but to make his running mate look pretty. To me, this clothing and stylist fiasco says a great deal about the priorities of the McCain campaign. Nobody would care if Palin spent her own money on clothes and stylists, but the point is that a cash strapped operation put style ahead of winning.
One of the reasons why I think that this story has struck a chord is that it seems out of touch when people are losing their homes and jobs to have a political party spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on clothes and style. To put this into a practical context, it was announced last week that the average price of a home in the United States has fallen to $190,959. This means that the Republicans have spent as much on Palin’s clothes and style as the average American pays for their house.
It is a joke for McCain to insist that Palin is a hero to millions. She has turned into the third least popular Republican in the country trailing on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. McCain is right that the American people are worried about their homes and jobs, and this is exactly why Palin’s clothing expenses send the wrong message. Palin’s clothing and styling costs are a perfect metaphor for the entire McCain campaign which has valued style over substance and gimmicks ahead of ideas.