Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
October 22, 2008

Candidate By Design

Morrispalin

I originally posted this shot back on September 16th.  With all the attention to Sarah Palin's wardrobe controversy, it seems particularly prescient now.  This photo was posted on the TIME White House photo blog back on September 3rd, the day of Palin's RNC convention speech.  The title and caption read:

"Closet Space: The dress worn by Sarah Palin at the announcement of her candidacy hangs in the shower on the campaign bus."

What the gifted photographer Christopher Morris seemed to pick up near instantly — and now the rest of the population is finally also focusing on — is how a politician like Sarah Palin comes mostly by design.  It's just too bad for (the bumbling but charming, over-confident, unselfconscious and non-introspective) Sarah that she came eight-years late to the party, dancing into an election in which the fundamental change sought by a weary and wary public is a sense of authenticity.

For the past eight years, America has suffered horribly under an actor outfitted in a Rove-tailored persona to play the C.I.C.  As a result, what is happening now is akin to pulling the curtain on the Wizard of Oz.  From whatever angle you want to examine Sarah Palin as being dressed up — as a Super Mom, with a "family as entourage" rather than people working real jobs or attending school; as a feminist, who employs seductive gestural come-ons to curry favor; as a political outsider, but singularly focused on the inside game — the blow-up over this megabuck wardrobe goes far beyond the exposure of a make-believe populist. 

No, the real picture here is this…  Sarah Palin is whoever and whatever she wants us to believe.  It's outfit as metaphor.

(image:  Christopher Morris/ VII for TIME)

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