Busted! Wal-Mart Sarah Goes On Neiman-Marcus Shopping Spree
What’s wrong with the media? They give importance to the trivial and trivialize the important.
Yesterday I went on my regular grocery shopping expedition to Wal-Mart where I stuck to the list to make sure I didn’t go over budget. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart because I love the fine folks who run the place by intimidating their underpaid workers with job insecurity into voting Republican. I shop at Wal-Mart because I have a limited fixed income and can’t really afford the luxury of shopping at someplace really, really expensive like Kroger. That’s a joke on one level, folks. I know that Kroger isn’t all that expensive, but it’s enough more than Wal-Mart that I can’t afford the difference.
I am often reminded of a song from my childhood by Tennessee Ernie Ford called “Sixteen Tons.” In the song he laments that he can’t even afford to die because he owes his soul to the “company store.” This came into sharp focus for me when there was a news item about Wal-Mart calling meetings with all of the middle-level managers and scaring them into manipulating their underlings to vote Republican this year or the evil labor unions might take over the company. As the son of a local union president in my youth, I was pretty outraged and decided to stop shopping at Wal-Mart. I asked Mrs. Jack to gather up all the receipts of our purchases over the past year so that I could make a formal complaint to their headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, on my way out the door. She complied, and we sent a joint e-mail with an attachment of our receipts in protest of their shady practices.
Then I had to come to grips with the reality of my life. No matter how much I wanted to show solidarity with the workers at Wal-Mart and workers around the nation by extrapolation, one trip to the local Kroger brought a sobering argument against my high morals. I couldn’t afford to shop at Kroger. The difference was even more than I expected. So I returned, sadder but wiser, to shopping at the “company store,” Wal-Mart.
I know it’s probably hard for those who live on the east and west coasts of our great nation to understand, but Wal-Mart has become the modern “shopping mall” to those of us out here in the hinterlands. First, they lured us by patriotic pronouncements of “Made in America,” filling their shelves with economically priced merchandise that ranged from lawn and garden supplies to groceries and everything in between. Then, once we were hooked, the “Made in China” tags started showing up on everything except groceries. By then, for many of us it was too late. We were addicted to Wal-Mart either by choice or economic necessity.
So for many out here in the “flyover states,” the roll-out of the “Hockey Mom” who shops at Wal-Mart brought a feeling that the Republican Party understood our lives. I, in fact, think that Sarah Palin does understand our lives, somewhat. They reinforced this image of her as “one of us” by inviting the media cameras to go along on a shopping trip she made to a Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago. It was reminiscent of President George H. W. Bush’s ill-fated trip to K-Mart the Christmas before he was turned out of the White House because he was so out of touch with regular people and their economic problems. But, to her credit, Sarah Palin pulled it off, showing her Wal-Mart “cred” by rushing through the store like a woman possessed. That’s how most women do approach a trip to Wal-Mart squeezed into their busy lives. So it reassured folks out in rural America that she was, indeed, one of them.
Now, on the same day that electoral opinion polls were released by NBC and the Wall Street Journal which were devastating to John McCain and Sarah Palin on every level, Politico.com releases this little gem about the secret make-over that Sarah Palin was treated to by the Republican National Committee. It seems that the Hockey Mom didn’t quite measure up to what the Republican elite expected from their candidate, so they spent an astounding $150,000 on clothes, hair and make-up. It flew in the face of their carefully positioning the Governor of Alaska as the middle-America every-woman candidate. They knew it and sat on the information of how much was spent and where it was spent. Now, for a bunch of people out here who are staying on their lists at the Wal-Mart stores out of fear of financial ruin, the $150,000 was astounding. It seems like you could buy one of everything in the store at a Wal-Mart for $150,000. But those in the Republican National Committee didn’t know anything about shopping at Wal-Mart. So they took her where, no doubt, Cindy McCain goes for a little shopping spree on a sunny afternoon: Neiman-Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
I heard about this first last evening on Keith Olbermann, and then again on Rachel Maddow, but the real chatter on the story was on Morning Joe today. Mika Brzezinski rushed to Palin’s defense, stating that it was important for a woman to dress well when she is in the public eye. Mike Barnicle, on the other hand, pointed out that a “hockey mom” can’t afford to dress in such an extravagant fashion and predicted backlash. No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the e-mail banks at Morning Joe and Mika’s Blackberry exploded with angry respondents to the story. Where did the majority of the outrage come from? WOMEN! Women who were struggling to make ends meet and saw no defense for such wasteful spending in a time of great financial hardship for them and their country. Mika kept saying that she agreed with their point on one hand but continued to make excuses for the beleaguered Palin. But the more Mika came to the defense of the expenditure, the more angry e-mails came in against it. The disconnect is that Mika, like most of the media elite who live in New York City, doesn’t get it. But out here in middle America, we do get it. It’s about hypocrisy and dishonesty.
For weeks now the McCain campaign has been parading this woman around the countryside to make a connection with everyday, ordinary people who are struggling in their financial lives. She has been put forth as the female counterpart of the other discredited mythical character invented by the Republicans, Joe the Plumber. This whole sorry episode has exposed the Republicans as a bunch of cheap showmen trying to sell snake oil to the gullible people in little-town America. While preaching a steady line of more tax cuts for the rich, they have put forth these caricatures of Middle Americans to lure those they have nothing to offer into voting Republican. Instead, they have insulted all of us out here who shop at Wal-Mart and live modest, decent lives by showing their genuine contempt for our lives. If they really cared about us, they would have dressed Caribou Barbie in the “George” collection that can be found in the women’s department at the local Wal-Mart store. But they don’t even know what that is.
Once again, I only blame Sarah Palin so far as she failed to stand up for her own and reject the fancy makeover; however, I realize that would be hard to do. It brings to mind another song from my childhood: “How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” Whatever down-home charm and feeling Sarah Palin might have brought to her political career have probably been erased by the elitists who REALLY run the Republican Party. Sorry, Sarah, you now must go back to Alaska and be a regular ol’ Governor again. I know it’s going to be difficult, but just like the rest of us, you’ll readjust to life at Wal-Mart more quickly than you think.
Is this important? On many, many levels, it is not; but on one level it is very important. For years the Republican Party elites have looked down their noses at the constituency they gathered up in the Reagan Revolution; now, they are showing their true feelings about them. IT’S HYPOCRITICAL and UNTRUTHFUL!
For all my Independent and Democratic friends, keep fighting the good fight. Don’t let the next 13 days become unlucky for us. Don’t get overly confident. Surely the gift of Sarah Palin can’t just keep on giving and giving forever.