As The Politico has reported and The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein has elaborated (complete with a slideshow), the Republican National Committee has spent over $150,000 on clothing and makeup for Sarah Palin and her family since the beginning of September, including a single Needless Markup Nieman Marcus spree that ran to over $75,000.
Now, this may seem like a trivial issue to raise in the final weeks of a high-stakes political campaign, when genuinely important issues are on the table (and at least one side has been trying to talk about them)… but remember, these are the people who raised a hue and cry about John Edwards’ $400 haircut. This is the campaign that’s pulling out of swing states and crying about how it can’t afford enough advertising. And this comes when McCain and Palin are trying their damnedest to relate to “Joe the plumber” and other working-class, middle-American voters.
As HuffPo notes, according to BLS data, this is more than the average American household spends on clothing in 80 years. And those families in what Palin calls “real America” that McCain says are “hurting and angry” aren’t liable to be doing their shopping at Neiman’s or Saks, either.
The McCain campaign has tried to blow this off with a couple of brief statements and is desperately hoping it will go away. (It’s getting hard to keep track of just how often this campaign has shot itself in the foot in recent weeks.) That doesn’t seem to be happening, though, as the mainstream media is already picking up the story and running with it. (Underscoring yet again, if I may digress briefly, how the MSM is no longer driving the narrative in this election cycle but is instead following the lead of the blogosphere.) There is a lot of more important stuff going on in the news—but most of it has to do with the deteriorating economy and the suffering it entails, which doesn’t make this story look any better.
This isn’t the sort of news that just gives Dems cause to gloate and independents to question, either. It’s the sort of news that alienates loyal Republicans (especially contributors, many of whom are already disenchanted). As The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder observes,
Republicans, RNC donors and at least one RNC staff member have e-mailed me tonight to share their utter (and not-for-attribution) disgust at the expenditures. …the heat for this story will come from Republicans who cannot understand how their party would do something this stupid.
Emerging commentary so far on political discussion boards seems to echo this sense of dismay among the GOP base. And defenders can’t even fall back on the claim that it’s just politics and “they all do it”: per The Politico, “A review of similar records for the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee turned up no similar spending.”Tags: Election 2008, Palin