So, in this campaign of many shockers, we now have the New York Times headline: “$150,000 wardrobe for Palin May Alter Tailor-Made Image.”
I guess that if reporters wish to pursue this rich vein of inquiry, there’s a whole series of investigative stories waiting to be written on the sartorial side of politics. It’s certainly more entertaining than digging into curious real estate deals, unreleased school transcripts, radical associates and millions dispensed in troubling ways (see this latest from my colleague, Andy McCarthy, on Obama’s “Social Justice” education expert).
In this new sartorial seam of campaign coverage, we might hope to read the full accounts of how much precisely has been spent, and by whom, on pantsuits, silk scarves, jewelry, men’s suits, socks and shoes; those shirts that seem to arrive with the sleeves pre-rolled-up; and, of course, the facelifts, hair treatments, and above all (or maybe beneath some) the Botox.
On the historical side, there’s the calculation (inflation-adjusted, please) of how much Jackie Kennedy spent on her widely admired wardrobe, first on the campaign trail and then in the White House. Or, how about some answers to a question that’s been bothering me for years — When Jimmy Carter arrived for his Washington inaugural pointedly carrying his own garment bag, was there actually anything inside it? And then there’s the multilateral theme — While Kofi Annan was lecturing the world about poverty, how much was he spending on those Brioni suits?
The angles are endless. It’s quite possible that here and there some of these stories have already appeared, though probably under headlines less portentous.
But here’s the real point. In an excellent article about the cheap shots at Sarah Palin, Dan Henninger of The Wall Street Journal notes:
It seems only yesterday that the most critical skill in presidential politics was being able to connect to people in places like Bronko’s bar or Saddleback Church. When Gov. Palin showed she excelled at that, the goal posts suddenly moved and the new game was being able to talk the talk in London, Paris, Tehran or Moscow. She looks about a half-step behind Sen. Obama on that learning curve.
About those moving goal posts, one might well wonder. Had it turned out, upon urgent inspection, that the wardrobe assembled in haste for Palin’s campaign travels had been purchased entirely in bargain basement bulk sales, would the headline have been: “Cheapskate Wardrobe Tarnishes Veep Pick’s Image” — ?
We’ll never know. But given the apparent importance and urgency of the topic, I do await with impatience the editorials now screaming to be written, spelling out to the last penny exactly how much it is fitting to spend on the campaign wardrobe of the first woman candidate in history for vice-president of the United States. [Note: My apologies for the error: As readers point out below, Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman candidate for vice-president. I should have said of Palin … “the first woman candidate for vice-president of the United States who, no matter what she wears, could not possibly get it right.”]