I've been defending Sarah Palin a lot lately. I've been defending her from objectification by her own supporters, from fiercely partisan criticism over Troopergate, and defending the money spent by the Alaskan government to allow her children to travel with her. I would like to say that this is a post criticizing something (and goodness knows there's plenty there), but this is more defense.
Folks are terribly concerned about the fact that the RNC has spent $150,000 on clothes and accessories for Gov. Palin. They say that this belies her "common person" persona. After all, the average person in this country makes less than $50,000 per year. This is three times this in two months.
I agree with that criticism, I guess, but only to the extent that it's kind of silly to buy that she has ever been during this campaign a "regular person." She can drop her g's and wink at us all she wants, but she is one of the political elite she loves to pretend to hate. She's a governor, for goodness sake! A governor can be the best, most in-touch governor in the world, but he or she is not one of the folks. They are not like you and I.
That said, of course the RNC ought to buy her clothes. It is a reality of American political life that women are more thoroughly scrutinized based on their appearance than men. Her clothes and accessories, because of the fact of American politics' gender hangups, are important parts of her campaign. I don't like this state of affairs, but it is the state of affairs.
It's not as if she's just going on a spending spree for stuff she wants. She's buying campaign tools. This is how we judge women candidates. It is sad but true. I think a lot of the media coverage of this, especially the lefty, mocking coverage, buys into the "women like shopping" narrative, situating Palin as a "typical woman" and thus using this, indirectly, as a disqualification for VP. Keith Olbermann tonight said something like "Caribou Barbie went shopping for accessories on the RNC's credit card." The logic behind this statement is Palin=Barbie=female=unqualified. There are plenty of arguments for Palin's lack of qualification for the office she is seeking, but this gender based one is the least compelling.
Media, please stop being sexist so I can stop defending this woman who I really, really don't want to be Vice President.