The Post-Mortem Lesson from Sarah Palin’s Candidacy: Never Again
“Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast” — a McCain aide’s description of the Palin spending sprees
According to an upcoming Newsweek piece, titled, “Hackers and Spending Sprees” it appears that our fears about Sarah Palin were well-founded, so no one needs to shed any tears over the Republican Party’s arguments, sure to arise in the coming days, painting Palin as the poor little stifled VP candidate, victimized by the McCain campaign’s refusal to just “let Sarah be Sarah.” That she was lacking in the good judgment, ethics and decorum (the most basic qualities you’d expect from any applicant applying for a job as the most powerful leader in the world) becomes only more apparent, the more we learn. We can only imagine the horror of the McCain campaign staffers who, realizing they had a tiger by the tail, were doing well just to keep wraps on the unstoppable force that was “Sarah being Sarah,” as seen in the glimpses offered in this article, which was slated, by pre-arrangement, to be published only AFTER the election.
At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys’ club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. “I’ll be just a minute,” she said.
There was also the matter of that spending spree. Of course, those of us who weren’t blinded by stubborn loyalty to the McCain campaign already knew that the debate over Palin’s wardrobe had nothing to do with whether or not she needed the clothes, or whether women are held to different standards than men, or whether it was “sexist” to discuss her wardrobe. No, the debate was over the fact that it was illegal to use campaign funds for clothing purchases, no matter how worthy the cause may have seemed to her supporters. Having said that, it turns out that her wardrobe purchases were not only more extravagant than we knew, but were a source of anger and disgust by McCain campaign insiders, who were “fuming” over the whole ordeal, even as they kept McCain in the dark about her true extent of her purchases. According to Newsweek:
While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family-clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.
It bears mentioning that the Newsweek article includes “secrets” about both campaigns, gathered by reporters under the implicit agreement to not publish it until after election day. You’ll find no real shockers in Obama’s closet. This is likely due to the fact that the integrity of the Obama campaign mirrored the integrity of the candidate. Which makes it all the more sad and angering the following news item, reported in this same article:
The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle asked a top campaign aide.
We’ll likely hear more of the truths on Palin in the coming days. Much as we’d like to relegate Sarah Palin to the past, we would be wise to commit these lessons to memory — particularly those poisonous ones, delivered from the stump — as Sarah Palin and her handlers will no doubt be spending the coming days contemplating her political future, which could very well include aspirations for reprising her role on the national stage, come 2012.