A Makeover With an Ugly Gloss
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 26, 2008
Anyone thinking Maureen Dowd wouldn’t go off on the reports of Sarah Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree was sadly mistaken.
Politico broke the news that the Republican National Committee spent over $150,000 on a “Pretty Woman”-style shopping spree for Palin, including about $75,000 at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis and nearly $50,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and St. Louis.But the Julia Roberts "hooker with a heart of gold and credit card of platinum" movie isn’t the only Movies With Maureen® we get. She also returns to the My Fair Lady motif she mined back in the “My Fair Veep” column.
Instead, with the economy cratering and the McCain campaign running on an “average Joe” theme, dunderheaded aides, led by the former Bushies Nicolle Wallace and Tracey Schmitt, costumed their Eliza Doolittle for a ball when she should have been dressing for a bailout.And it seems the Cockney flower girl make-over metaphor went as far as actually hiring Sarah a diction coach to make sure "the snow in Juneau falls mainly on the moose."
In The New York Times Magazine today, Robert Draper reveals that the campaign also hired a former New York stage and screen actress, Priscilla Shanks, to be her voice coach for the convention. The expense was listed in finance reports as Operating Expenditures and Get-Out-The-Vote consulting. Apparently getting out the vote includes teaching a potential vice president the correct way to pronounce “nuclear.”And just to drum in the Palin-as-plaything point, Maureen extends the Barbie metaphor to breaking.
McCain advisers have been scathing about the “sexism” of critics who dismiss Sarah Palin as Caribou Barbie.Dowd also deploys a pretty clever Dowdversion™ stealing VH1's "Best Week Ever" upgrade/downgrade bit.
How odd then, to learn that McCain advisers have been treating their own vice presidential candidate like Valentino Barbie, dressing her up in fancy clothes and endlessly playing with her hair.
The sartorial upgrade was bound to turn into a strategy downgrade, as Palin pressed her case as a homespun gal who was ever so much more American than the elite, foreignish Obama, while she was gussied up in Italian couture.And some nice Alliteration Alerts® are buried in this line:
The Republicans’ attempt to make the case that Barack Obama is hoity-toity and they’re hoi polloi has fallen under the sheer weight of the stunning numbers:To drive home the “let them eat cake” hypocrisy of the candidates, Dowd enumerates the convention night couture on parade.
The McCains own 13 cars, eight homes and access to a corporate jet, and Cindy had her Marie Antoinette moment at the convention.
Vanity Fair calculated that her outfit cost $300,000, with three-carat diamond earrings worth $280,000, an Oscar de la Renta dress valued at $3,000, a Chanel white ceramic watch clocking in at $4,500 and a four-strand pearl necklace worth between $11,000 and $25,000. While presenting herself as an I’m-just-like-you hockey mom frugal enough to put the Alaska state plane up for sale on eBay, Palin made her big speech at the convention wearing a $2,500 cream silk Valentino jacket that the McCain staff had gotten her at Saks.Maureen also pays Palin two rather left-handed compliments:
She is so naturally good-looking, there is no need to gild the Last Frontier lily.At the end of the column, Maureen makes a suspicious presidential succession assumption.
As a former beauty pageant contestant and sports anchor on TV, Palin already seemed on top of her grooming before the McCain campaign made her traveling makeup artist, Amy Strozzi, the highest-paid individual on the campaign for the first two weeks of October.
The conservative big shots who have not deserted Palin and still think she can be Reagan in a Valentino skirt are furious at those who have mishandled the governor and dimmed her star power. They mourn that she may have to wait now until 2016 to get rid of the phony stench of designer populism.This scenario seems to assume that if the McCain/Palin ticket would win that McCain wouldn’t survive two full terms. Hoping for that sort of tragic upgrade is too much for even a Cinderella-in-go-go-boots to hope for.
Makeovers are every woman’s dream. But this makeover has simply pushed back Palin’s dream of being president.