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Sexism and Palin
What the flap over her wardrobe says about the media, politics, and gender
 

What happened
Sarah Palin blamed sexism for the media frenzy over a report that the Republican Party spent $150,000 on clothes and makeup for her and her family. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Palin said Hillary Clinton faced the same "double standard" during the Democratic primaries. (Chicago Tribune)

What the commentators said
At least now we know beyond any doubt that there is "no standard of objectivity" left in contemporary journalism, said Victor Davis Hanson in National Review online. Reporters avoid mentioning Joe Biden's bleached teeth and hair plugs, then "sneer that the Alaskan mom of five" buying "a new wardrobe to run for Vice President" is vain and shallow. If that's not a double standard, what is?

Come on, said Patrick Healy and Michael Luo in The New York Times, there's a good reason why this story hurt Palin's image. It's the kind of "symbolic political excess"—like John McCain's many houses, and John Edwards' $400 haircut—that always cost politicians who reach out to the working class.

"All politicians know that how they look matters," said Newsday in an editorial, "although it may be particularly true for women." Hillary Clinton knew she had to pay attention to her hair, and her "don't-mess-with-me pantsuits" didn't come cheap. But don't forget that Barack Obama's suits cost $1,500 a pop.

If you want to criticize someone for focusing on Palin's gender and looks, said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post, consider John McCain. He chose the Alaska as his running mate—over many more experienced politicians—without vetting her, after meeting her only once. If the pick ends up costing him the election, he could "join the pantheon of men who, intoxicated by a woman's power, made the wrong call."

 

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