Of the four people who make up the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets, Palin holds a clear lead in one department: number of news photographs that depict only her legs.
Some of my Republican friends have been a little, uh, drooly about the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate.
It’s all a tad unseemly; is she running for second in command or first crush?
I’ll grant my friends on the right that the governor is a not-unattractive woman; particularly in a milieu overpopulated by wonks and gray-hairs. And her personality — all smiles and emoting as she endeavors, often in vain, to find her way to the end of a thought — puts one in mind of a beauty-pageant contestant. Miss South Carolina, specifically. (If you don’t get this reference, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww.)
It’s not like the Republican National Committee doesn’t know any of this. That’s why it has spent some $150,000 on clothing and accessories for its star candidate since McCain tapped her in late August. Nearly $50,000 from Saks Fifth Avenue; more than 75 Gs at Neiman Marcus. The committee also doled out almost $5,000 on hair and makeup in September and, while the disclosure forms don’t say whom this money was spent on, it’s hard to imagine it was McCain.
And if all this weren’t proof enough that perhaps too much attention is being paid to the candidate’s appearance, there is the fact that, of the four people who make up the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets, Palin holds a clear lead in one department: number of news photographs that depict only her legs.
I know! I thought it was strange, too. I found five news photos over the past few weeks showing the governor from the knees down.
Now, in fairness, taking photos of someone who basically is just standing at a podium is challenging, and I can imagine a bored photographer trying to be a little creative. But try as I might, I could find no photos focusing on the legs of McCain, Barack Obama or Joe Biden. (Which is not to say they aren’t occasionally spliced and diced: One photo showed just Obama’s hands reaching into a crowd; another, the back of McCain’s head.)
The attention Palin generates — from my Republican friends, news photographers and others — highlights the unusual position the Republican ticket finds itself in.
They’ve got a vice presidential candidate with undeniable star power. Songwriters rap about the governor (or sometimes, as her: “Joe Sixpack is my homie/he loves it when I wink. Each time he hears ‘Go Maverick,’ yeah/he knows it’s time to drink”). YouTube is replete with Sarah Palin impersonators (CNN’s Jeannie Moost recently did a fun-filled profile of the trend — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL48-J1YAeE — featuring, among others, the talented Lisa Nova, whose links I can’t give you because they’re slightly blue). Palin herself does little more than show up on “Saturday Night Live” and draws the biggest ratings the show has had in 14 years.
And yet ... still no press conferences. Very few interviews outside of her friends at Fox. And stories that indicate a lack of professional judgment, like last week’s account that she charged the state of Alaska for her children to travel with her by noting on forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events when that may not have been the case.
John McCain is known as a gambler. His selection of Palin was a classic high-risk/high-reward roll of the dice. Usually, that means either a big payoff or a calamitous bust. Who knew it would prove to be both.
Messenger managing editor Kevin Frisch’s column, “Funny Thing ...,” appears each week in the Sunday Messenger. Contact him at (585) 394-0770/Ext. 257 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.