By Their Stilletos Shall Ye Know Them? Is It in Accord with Sarah Palin’s Christian Witness to Spend $150,000 on Her Campaign Wardrobe?

Politico today on what the McCain-Palin campaign is doing with contributors’ money:

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission’s long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.

Politico asked the McCain campaign for comment, explicitly noting the $150,000 in expenses for department store shopping and makeup consultation that were incurred immediately after Palin’s announcement. Pre-September reports do not include similar costs.

Spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to answer specific questions about the expenditures, including whether it was necessary to spend that much and whether it amounted to one early investment in Palin or if shopping for the vice presidential nominee was ongoing.

Hmm. How would Jesus accessorize?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to By Their Stilletos Shall Ye Know Them? Is It in Accord with Sarah Palin’s Christian Witness to Spend $150,000 on Her Campaign Wardrobe?

  1. Jarvis Fielding says:

    Are you seriously comparing that to the obscene amounts of money Barack Obama has spent on his campaign? If you’re wanting to point fingers about wardrobe and such, rest assured that Obama’s isn’t exactly cheap either.

    Also, take a look at pictures of him before and during this campaign. It’s obvious that he’s had several moles and freckles removed from his face in an attempt to look younger.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Obama gets most of his “obscene” amounts of money from small donors on the Internet. Like 3 million other Americans, I have contributed to Obama’s campaign.

    And Obama obviously is not a fundamentalist religionist in the way that Sarah Palin is—so he does not invite fundamentalist readings of the Bible with regard to the way he dresses.

    I am asking the question regarding Palin because she so blatantly wears her fundamentalist brand of Christianism on her sleave, and I’m pointing out the obvious disconnect between the way she talks about Christianity, and the way she behaves (please tell me how spending 150,000 dollars on clothes accords with the Sermon on the Mount).

    Didn’t Jesus explicitly say, Take no heed what you shall wear? Behold the lillies of the field etc?

    If Palin is going to use the Bible to set public policy on gay people’s rights (as an example), then it’s only fair to ask how her lifestyle then accords with the Bible.

    Obviously it doesn’t.

    Republicans don’t like this pointed out because it exposes Palin for the fraud that she is.

  3. Jarvis Fielding says:

    Obama isn’t a religious fundamentalist? The fact that he attended the church of a hatemonger for 20 years certainly would seem the contrary. His association with Jeremiah Wright has been downplayed because of the radical values proposed by its leader. To think that Obama doesn’t also subscribe to those values after the life he as led and sitting in the pew for 20 years is beyond comprehension.

    It’s one thing to uphold and cherish Christian values. It’s another thing to expect someone to live the life of Christ. If you really supported the views you claim to hold Palin to, you wouldn’t even own a computer to post your thoughts…you’d be dedicating your life to service in a monastery somewhere.

    You’re contradicting yourself with your own posts.

  4. santitafarella says:


    i am not contradicting myself because i am an agnostic.

    and i believe in capitalism.

    and i believe that selfishness is a virtue (as well as kindness).

    i’m simply pointing out that sarah palin does not live a coherent christian position.

    she pretends to be a christian—and then spends 150,000 dollars on clothes. if this is not a blatant violation of the teachings of jesus, then i don’t know what is.

    how can anyone read the sermon on the mount, call oneself a christian, and then do that—without a bad conscience?

    the cognitive dissonance is just too much.

    as for obama, he is obviously not a fundamentalist. he supports gay equality and keeping abortion legal. he is probably a closet agnostic who has used church in his life for the same reason that a lot of people do: for social connection.

    if obama is a genuine religious believer—then it is in the reinhold niebuhr liberal religious tradition. in fact, obama has said that he has been influenced by niebuhr.

    as for palin upholding christian values, but not practicing them—that’s called hypocricy.

    and if following the sermon on the mount is, from your perspective, an impossible standard to expect christians to actually follow, then it seems ridiculous for anybody to ever call themselves a christian.

    think about it: “i’m a christian who doesn’t follow the teachings of jesus!”

    if words mean anything then the very definition of a christian is “somebody who follows the teachings of jesus.”

    someone who doesn’t do that, but still says that they are a follower of jesus, seems to me to be completely confused—or trying to deceive others about what they’re really about.

  5. Jarvis Fielding says:

    Wow. Just wow.

    You’re an agnostic hammering on a philosophy you don’t even believe in. That’s hypocrisy. I see that you are an educator as well. Go figure.

  6. Ginny says:

    Obama and wife can eat cavier and lobster via room service at 5 star hotels,washed down with champaign (probably the same in every hotel) and with what they are spending on this campaign full of lies does anyone really believe that Obama and Michelle have spent any less on clothes than Sarah has? It’s crazy that there is concern about clothes instead of SCAREY Friends and business associates.

  7. santitafarella says:


    if you make a critique of agnosticism, or a religion different from your own, does that make you a hypocrite?

    of course not.

    it is just a critique by someone outside a particular belief or group.

    that’s all i am doing.

    i’m noting sarah palin’s fraudulance, and pointing it out.

  8. Jarvis Fielding says:

    From the outside looking in, you claim that because Palin upholds certain values, she is therefore bound to live her life in the image of Christ. You admonish her for not donning sandals and a robe as Christ did. Perhaps you misunderstand the Christian value of “living life in the image of Christ”. It doesn’t mean that we all should dress like Jesus.

    You are right though, it doesn’t make you a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who claims to hold beliefs in something they don’t really believe in. It makes you a person who does not tolerate or understand any belief other than their own. A person who thinks others should uphold values that they themselves have stereotyped others into. It makes you a bigot.

    The only fraud here, is your own.

  9. santitafarella says:


    I’m not telling Sarah Palin how to live.

    But when somebody calls themselves a Christian, and runs for election attempting to appeal to religious believers, and then spends 150,000 dollars on clothes, I think it is fair to point out the obvious: there is a disconnect between Sarah Palin’s profession of faith and the plain statements of Jesus in the gospels concerning wealth.

    If Sarah Palin were running as a Buddhist, but she never meditated, and lived a lavish lifestyle, I would also point out the obvious: not meditating, and being attached to material possessions, is not consistent with the teachings of the Buddha.

    I am neither a Buddhist nor a Christian, but I can read the texts of these religions and note the obvious: few people who attach themselves to these religions by name actually practice them in ways that would be even remotely recognizable to their founders (Buddha and Jesus).

    Palin is free to indulge in her hypocricy, and you are free to indulge her in her hypocricy, and defend her in it, and send her money to pay for her Neiman Marcus duds. In turn, I am free to mark her behavior as being, from my perspective, either (a) fraudulent or (b) self-deluded.

    I think that words have meaning—and if you can behave any way you want to and still call yourself a “Christian” then the word simply ceases to mean anything.

    The word becomes Orwellian.

    And really, Jarvis, do you honestly think that having a 150,000 dollar wardrobe in a world full of suffering and poverty is in accord with “living life in the image of Christ”?

    I’m not talking about wearing a toga, I’m talking about basic humanity and decency toward Jesus’ memory and legacy as a teacher.

    Don’t call yourself a follower of Jesus if you don’t follow his teachings. Stop corrupting the language.

    Be honest about who you are. Call your beliefs something else—Malthusian Hyper-Nationalist Theism—but don’t call it Christianity.

  10. Jarvis Fielding says:

    Your argument then, is that Sarah Palin is running a campaign as a Christian? Since you hold no belief in those values, why do you hold her to them? Are you seriously so bent on bringing someone down that you would hold them a 2000 year old text? What about the rest of the world? Are we all so chastised in your eyes? If the Bible was the definitive answer we should all adhere to then your very right to voice your opinions as a woman should be revoked. You are subject to be the servant of your husband, and nothing more.

    Ephesians 5:22-24
    Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

    There are many similar passages in the Bible. Since you yourself do not subscribe to Christianity, you then, are above the law of God. All women should then stand down, and return to their homes. They should be silent, and live only to serve their husbands. Those who are unable to make themselves suitable for a man, should feel shamed, and dedicate their lives to the service of the Lord.

    Is this the theory you subscribe to? That those who claim Christianity should be in strict accordance with the Bible? You must, since words have meaning as you say.

    However, none of this is the case. Especially for you, the agnostic. I have not professed myself as a Christian, though you assume I am one. What belief system do you have, if any? Since you are so quick to judge Sarah Palin’s, and apparently mine, what virtues do you hold that allows you to hold others to a higher standard than you hold for yourself?

  11. santitafarella says:


    Sarah Palin is a religious authoritarian hyper-nationalist who believes, apparently, in minimally regulated capitalism and a great deal of pseudo-science and intellectual flim-flam (young earth creationism, the real existence of witchcraft and demons, and End Times Biblical prophecy, to name just three things).

    She calls this “Christianity”—and this whole package of beliefs amounts to a world view that has huge implications for public policy.

    I am merely pointing out incoherencies and absurdities inherent in this historically peculiar conglomeration of beliefs.

    If I understand you correctly, you think that I, not being a Christian, should not offer my perspective on the matter of Sarah Palin’s religion—that it is bad form for someone not in a particular religious community to critique its inconsistencies.

    I respectfully disagree, especially when so much of Palin’s religion bleeds into public policy (from gay civil rights to science funding to foreign and environmental policy).

    Capitalism, for example, sits very uncomfortably with the Sermon on the Mount—and even with Palin’s hyper-nationalism.

    And it permits, for example, Palin to indulge in Neiman Marcus shopping sprees—even as she waves the Bible at gays for their chosen lifestyle.

    In other words, she picks and chooses her lifestyle and calls it Christian—but does not give gays the same legal equality to do exactly the same thing (that is, ignore biblical injunctions against homosexuality, and to have civil marriages recognized by the state).

    This is why Palin’s inconsistent application of the Bible to her own life matters—because she uses that same Bible as a compass for other aspects of public policy (when it suits her).

    As for your pointing out the gross mysogeny in the Bible, especially in the letters of Paul, I agree with you. The Bible is mysogenistic—and should be ignored wherever it speaks about the second class status of women.

    BUT Palin wants things multiple ways. On the one hand she would apply certain passages in the Bible to gays, but ignore passages that might make her life less comfy (such as “sell all you have and give it to the poor”).

    As for you not being a Christian, that’s fine. I do not hold that against you in any way.

    I, too, am not a Christian. I am an agnostic. I trace my intellectual influences through such figures as Isaiah Berlin, Richard Rorty, Charles Darwin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. In other words, I am a liberal humanist and pragmatist in the tradition of the Enlightenment (both scientific and political).

    Consequently, I have an abiding respect for capitalism and conservatism—as well as liberalism. I think that good ideas come from both the right and the left, and that those ideas, evaluated critically, can direct humanity on a progressive path.

    I think that the ethical injunctions found in the Bible are generally inhumane, unreasonable, and often impossible to practice.

  12. Jarvis Fielding says:

    I knew it would rear it’s ugly head soon enough. Now you are being hypocritical. Again you chastise Palin for “picking and choosing” which parts of the Bible she applies to herself, and which she imposes on others. Is that not what you are doing?

    The point is, as an agnostic you do not subscribe to the beliefs outlined in its texts. Yet you hold others to adhere to those same beliefs. In other words, since my children believe in the tooth fairy and you don’t, you would criticize me for leaving money under their pillow. The same principals apply.

    You also need to further read up on the Palin story. She did not go on shopping sprees herself, members of the RNC did the actually shopping. Palin is from Alaska, and while I’m sure she wasn’t poor, didn’t live an extravagant lifestyle. Campaigning in 50 states required a new wardrobe, one fit for such a public figure. The wardrobe is to be later donated to charity.

  13. santitafarella says:


    150,000 dollars.

    Think about that.

    And please don’t turn Sarah Palin into a wallflower. She made a CHOICE to wear those clothes and accessories.

    Forget Jesus for a moment. Would Margaret Thatcher require such a wardrobe for public display?

    Palin’s emphasis is all in the wrong place. A VP candidate should be about substance, not shallow appearance.

    Palin has not even done a single press conference—and she has yet to do any of the sit-down Sunday journalism shows. But she’s got time for dressing up in Neiman Marcus clothes.

    Her entire candidacy has been a total farce. This gesture of shallowness and financial extravagence merely highlights it.

    And why is it noble to donate the clothes to charity? Isn’t that “redistributing the wealth”—a no-no for Palin?

    Palin’s ideology is utterly confused.

  14. Jarvis Fielding says:

    She certainly did make the choice to wear those clothes. Are you telling me you wouldn’t? Again with the hypocrisy.

    There is plenty of substance to Sarah Palin. Because you are a liberal, you don’t see it. That’s not a character flaw on your part, that’s just the way it is. I am a Conservative, and I see everything you do not…and vice versa.

    Why on earth would Sarah Palin do a press conference? After the lambasting she has taken in the media? I applaud her for basically doing what every Republican should do to the media…give them the finger and go about her business. She isn’t required to stand before them and say anything. Good for her.

    She is not a candidate, McCain is. The only farce has been the media’s lack of hard questioning and investigation of Barack Obama, a man who would be denied entrance into the FBI because of his background.

    Redistributing the wealth: Donations from rich people that go to the RNC, which in turn fuels the economy in purchasing clothes for Sarah Palin. Those stores then pay their employees paychecks, stay in business, and then pay their stockholders. Oh wait, that’s capitalism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s