Sarah Palin's Marie Antoinette moment
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Sarah Palin's Marie Antoinette moment
by Mike Andrew - SGN Contributing Writer When French queen Marie Antoinette was informed that the peasants were rioting because they had no bread to eat, she remarked, "Well, they can eat some cake, instead."

She meant to be helpful, of course, not hardhearted, but her words were seen as proof of how clueless the French monarchy had become. Sarah Palin had her Marie Antoinette moment this week, as revealed that the Republican National Committee spent more than $150,000 outfitting her for campaign appearances.

The expenses included wardrobe purchases totaling more than $75,000 at Nieman Marcus, nearly $50,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue, $9,000 at Macy's, $5,000 at Bloomingdale's, and $800 at Barney's New York.

Alaska's First Dude Todd Palin also scored a $5,000 wardrobe upgrade from Atelier. Another $295 was spent at upscale baby stores, apparently to outfit little Trig Palin for his public appearances.

Almost $5,000 was spent on Palin's hair and makeup for the month of September. She's being groomed for higher office, after all.

Spending campaign funds for personal items such as clothing is likely illegal under long-standing Federal Election Commission rules governing campaign expenditures. The McCain campaign denied federal laws had been broken because - so they said - Palin's clothes would be donated to charity after the election.

Those with long memories might remember that in 1993 US Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) was accused by the FEC of using campaign funds for personal purposes, and lost a subsequent re-election campaign in 1998 to Republican Peter Fitzgerald. Braun was the US Senate's first and only African American woman, and one of only 14 Senators brave enough to vote against the federal DOMA. Ironically, her old Senate seat is now held by Barack Obama.

McCain campaign spokesperson Tracey Schmitt said "With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses."

Remarkable indeed, but it sums up something very wrong with McCain's campaign. Far more than the legal issues raised by Palin's new outfits, it is the evident cluelessness of spending so much to adorn the vice presidential candidate at a time when so many working Americans would be delighted to have enough spare cash to buy a T-shirt at Target.

People are losing their jobs. People are losing their homes. Many Americans need help right now. They can't wait for post-election RNC charity. All of us deserve candidates who will address serious issues seriously.

With every passing day, however, it's becoming more and more obvious that John McCain did not choose Gov. Palin for her seriousness or her qualifications, but only because he thought she would play well on TV. In other words, John McCain is using Sarah Palin like Sarah Palin is using the red leather jacket she bought at Nieman Marcus - as a prop.

Had McCain really wanted a woman as his running mate, he could have nominated a Republican woman of real stature and accomplishments - Kay Bailey Hutchison, Olympia Snow, Condoleezza Rice, or Christie Todd Whitman, to name a few. Any one of them would have made for a credible Republican ticket, and any one might have had a real chance of appealing to unreconciled supporters of Hillary Clinton.

But he didn't. He went for cheap window dressing. He picked the Marie Antoinette of American politics, a vain and self-satisfied political celebrity who is quite happy to play dress-up with the RNC courtiers who run McCain's campaign.

We all know what happened to Marie Antoinette - and to Louis XVI. Americans are usually gentler with our discredited public figures. We send them on the lecture circuit, not to the guillotine. Nevertheless, when McCain loses this election, it will serve him right.