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October 24, 2008 7:04 PM

Fashion, Media

Now These Are What We Call Mavericks

Sarah PalinEthan Miller/Getty Images When news broke that the Republican National Committee spent almost $150,000 of campaign donations to buy clothes for vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, there was no shortage of outrage. Democrats wondered aloud how the Republican...


Sarah Palin
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When news broke that the Republican National Committee spent almost $150,000 of campaign donations to buy clothes for vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, there was no shortage of outrage. Democrats wondered aloud how the Republican ticket could "waste" so much money on clothes for a supposed "hockey mom" from Main Street, particularly after the GOP's attack machine had been so vituperative about John Edwards' $400 haircut. Many Republican pundits shut off their cell phones, attempting to avoid yet another news cycle that tilted in the Obama campaign's favor. But as the week wore on (ha ha!), an interesting thing began to happen: Some of the most vocal critics of the spending spree turned out to be conservatives, and some of the people who shrugged and said "so what" turned out to be Democrats. The latest examples of this came via e-mail from Norman Ornstein, of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, and Dee Dee Myers, former spokeswoman for President Bill Clinton and author of the memoir "Why Women Should Rule the World."

From Ornstein: "It is very damaging. First, it has been a dominant story for two days --  and at this stage of a campaign, controlling the narrative is essential. John McCain can't afford to lose days right now. Second, it undercuts the image of the hockey mom. Third, it is profligate, and has pissed off GOP donors -- they are giving $2,300 for this? Fourth, it is potentially corrupt. Fifth, they could have purchased her a wardrobe at Loehmann's, or Macy's (across the street from Saks and a block from Neiman's in downtown Minneapolis, which happens to be my home), or at a dozen midrange women's stores in the neighborhood. It was just plain stupid."

Myers, on the other hand, said that while the story was damaging to the McCain ticket,  "I don't really think it's fair.  Women face different tests, especially on appearance. So she did what she had to do to neutralize the appearance issue.  Yeah, she could have done it less expensively.  But I blame the campaign, not her. Hillary [Clinton] spent a lot on her appearance, too. But she paid for it herself...after all, they're rich!"
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