So the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 on new clothes from Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus for Sarah Palin and another $11,000 a week on a makeup artist. I am not outraged at such indulgence during an economic crisis, nor at that the sum clashes with the image of the Walmart Mom she purports to be, nor concerned that as a matter of strategy the money could have bought more TV ads in one of those battleground states where McCain is now falling behind. Nor am I disturbed that her personal shopper was also responsible for some nasty campaign robocalls (and the nasty ones against McCain in 200). (Nor am I impressed by the campaign’s explanation that the clothes will go to charity after the campaign. They’d better — otherwise Palin will have to pay income taxes on them — and they are worth more than her salary as Alaska governor.)
No, what I’ve been feeling since this story came out is a very selfish kind of RELIEF. Yes, I am relieved to know that it takes that kind of spending to look as good as she has day in and day out on the campaign trail. Remember, this is a woman who is 44 and the mother of 5 kids including an infant. When my one kid was Trig’s age, I had bags under my eyes so big from night time feedings that I was worried I’d have to pay the extra baggage fee on airplanes. So seeing the expense and professional effort that goes into her presentation was a bit like seeing these pictures. Who among us wouldn’t look a whole lot better with some expertly tailored suits and a full-time makeup artist.
From day one, whatever her other merits and demerits, I had been awed by Palin’s ability to manage a career as a governor and run for VP while still taking care of a large, young family — and look so great doing it. I don’t think it’s sexist to say so even though we don’t say this about men. As the mother of only one kid, I was intrigued to know how she pulls it off. But now the secrets to being wonderwoman are emerging. Yes, it’s tough to go back to work immediately after having a baby — but it helps to be the boss so you can have your infant’s crib in your office. And yes it’s tough when you have to travel a lot for work — but it’s easier when you can bill taxpayers for the cost of flying your kids with you and putting them up in their own private hotel rooms.
So it’s been interesting to watch what can be done — and how stylishly — if you have some determination, a flex-time Dad in the picture, and a lot of other people’s money.