The Palin wardrobe

October 22, 2008 2:04:18 PM PDT
All you have to do is take a look at some of the historical videos of Sarah Palin - you know, like from early summer and late spring - to understand that the woman needed a clothing makeover if she was to hit the road as a Vice Presidential running mate to John McCain. Anyone who appears in public a lot - or on camera for that matter - had better pay attention, at least a little, to what they're wearing.

Is it a huge issue or scandalous that Sarah Palin spent about $150,000 in Republican National Committee money at fancy clothing stores and on hair and makeup? Probably not, during a time of economic crisis. But it is curious, to be sure, that the woman who bills herself as a typical "hockey mom," and who lampoons the country's progressive income tax as "socialism" - is dressed to the nines thanks to Saks and Neiman Marcus - and doing it on someone else's dime.

Here's a stat for you: The wardrobe/makeover allowance for Palin is about two times the annual median family income in the U.S.

The McCain campaign now says Palin will donate the clothes to charity when the campaign is over. Are we to assume she'll go back to wearing t-shirts and fur vests if she becomes Vice President?

And the news about Palin's makeover comes on the same day as revelations that Palin charged the state of Alaska for her children to travel with her - travel that included events to which they weren't invited. Palin, who reportedly later amended her expense reports to claim the kids were on official business, put in for more than $21,000 worth of travel for her kids' trips - 64 one-way and 12 roundtrip flights since she took office less than two years ago.

Talk about a maverick.

Oh, and one other possible wrinkle: under one interpretation, this clothing could count as income, and Gov. Palin could owe income tax on the $150,000 worth of clothes. There is precedent: You may recall that Nancy Reagan, when she was first lady, "borrowed" expensive designer gowns. And the White House Counsel ruled at the time that these dresses had to be declared as income.

By the way, the lawyer who came up with that policy, notes ABC News' Ann Compton: Fred Fielding -- who just also happens to be the current White House Counsel.

We'll have the latest from the campaign trail, tonight at 11. We'll also look at the newest John McCain strategy of trying to turn Pennsylvania from a blue state to a red one. It may be the only way - if we're to believe the polls - that McCain will be able to get to the magic electoral vote number of 270 to win the White House. Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes are not in one block. The Democrats have a hold on the western and eastern portions of the state (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia), while the Republicans have the central section.

We'll also have a preview of the big vote tomorrow at the New York City Council on whether to bypass voters and overturn the City's term limits law. At a town hall meeting today about the digital television conversion next year, I asked Councilwoman Gail Brewer how she was going to vote. "I don't know," she said.

Brewer told us (there were several dozen people at the meeting) that she believes it takes 12 years, or three terms, for a council member to be fully effective. But the voters have twice expressed their feelings, and there is a two-term limit for the Mayor and City Council members.

Mayor Bloomberg is pushing this Council vote, so he can run for a third term; he's said he would not run if this went to a referendum of the people. For the life of me, I'm perplexed by the Mayor's attempts to circumvent the expressed will of the voters - even though eliminating term limits, or extending it to three terms makes a lot of sense to me.

Tonight, opponents of changing the term limits law are holding a rally. Alas, those who oppose it have, like the people who are pushing it, a personal stake. In this case, some of the most outspoken critics want to run for Mayor, and fear another Bloomberg candidacy. Late this afternoon, a judge denied a motion to halt the Council vote. So - the showdown is tomorrow.

And tonight on Long Island, a vigil at the home of the student from SUNY Albany who was murdered Sunday night. The killer is still on the loose.

And another huge loss for Wall Street today -- at one point the Dow was down nearly 700 points. It closed down about 500 points, as more corporations reported horrible earnings. We'll have a peek at the Asian markets tonight at 11, which often are a bellwether for Wall Street the following day.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Marvell Scott, in for Scott Clark, with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.