Posted by: John | October 23, 2008

The real message of `clothes gate`

Trivial as it may seem the clothes-horse` saga for Sarah Palin has legs!

The problem is not in the fact that she’s dressed herself to the nines – it’s about how this clicks with the Republican message. In a sense it seems a multi-layered issue – at once trivial and serious.

1. As the McCain campaign has opted for the public finance of its campaign the $150,000 has come from the TAXPAYER like `Joe the plumber`. This is legal and will be put down to `necessary expenditure` yet what it does is degrade the myth that `Obama’s lying when he says that people under $250,000 will be taxed more too`. It also degrades the narrative for the low-information Republican that Sarah Palin is good with your money.

2. It raises to a more public and accessible level the dysfunction of the Republicans’ message – Is Sarah a `hockey mom` or a `Saks Fifth Avenue girl`.

3. Fiscal Conservatives EXPECT candidates to be put before them that have private means to buy their own clothes. Either they expect them to be able to shop at Saks or they are happy for a candidate who is a bit of a `maverick` to shop at Next. They just have to say so. They don’t like people who rely on other people for their clothing.

4. It also disincentivises the troops on the ground – `If I’m sweating my guts out for someone who is a `hockey mom` why should I bother if she’s not`.

5. It further trivialises her candidature – instead of focusing on her message people will be focusing on her clothes. The problem for her is that the gravitas has yet to be asserted. For instance there was an interview with the Obama family talking about their clothes shopping – this has been raised as an item of curiosity for those that are interested in clothes – it is accepted that Barack is a candidate of great seriousness thus the clothes thing is an `add-on` (indeed it shows them more in tune with the `hockey moms` than Sarah!) thus clothes do not detract from the image!.

If clothing is the presentation of a person at an interview the Republicans don’t know whom are asking the questions.

When all’s said and done I think they’d wished they’d now thought of having a photo op in an ordinary but sensible clothes store in downtown Scranton or had shopped at Next.

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