Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving. At least for snarky left-wing pundits.
[Ahem. Let's try that again, shall we?]
Sarah Palin is the goose that just keeps laying golden eggs, so to speak, and the Republican National Committee seems astonishingly clueless when it comes to capitalizing on Palin's star power. I mean, this is supposed to be the party of free enterprise, making lots of money, and fatcats in general. And yet, a little girl has to show them how to make money? In an Obama-esque spirit of reaching across the aisle, I would like to rub their noses in it.
Um, wait a minute, that's not quite Obama-esque enough... how about: "I would like to draw their attention to an entrepreneurial spirit in their midst." Yes, that's better.
Here are the facts, in case you haven't heard the story: Sarah Palin's niece sold some old shoes of her aunt's on eBay. I apologize for calling her a "little girl" earlier, as I was merely making a point. I don't know anything about this woman, other than the photo she posted on eBay which shows her with her aunt. I don't need to know anything further, as it is irrelevant to the story. The one thing I do know is the girl's an absolute genius compared to the RNC.
The shoes (you just can't make this stuff up) are size seven-and-a-half red "Double Dare" Naughty Monkey shoes, bought by Sarah Palin (specifically "NOT paid for by the RNC"), and worn onstage with John McCain during the campaign. They come with two photos autographed by Sarah Palin showing her wearing the shoes onstage, as well as the option of having the shoes themselves signed by Palin, and even the custom campaign Sharpie pen used to sign them. The eBay auction page even includes a statement by the shoe store owner who sold the Naughty Monkeys to Palin:
We sold our Governor a pair of red Double Dare Naughty Monkey shoes a couple of weeks ago. She just wore those shoes as John McCain announced Governor Sarah Palin from Alaska as his vice president running mate. Although not everyone agrees with her politics, everyone can agree that she wears "sexy shoes."
He seems to be doing a little Obama-esque reaching across the aisle himself, there. [Ahem.]
But, while amusing, the real story is the outcome, which is what you'd expect: the bidding was brisk, and the shoes sold for $2,025. To put this in perspective, the shoes reportedly retail for around $100. On eBay, you can buy a pair for $75 (although maybe not in red...).
That is about a 1900% profit. Here's where the RNC should perk their ears up. Because they're sitting on a potential fundraising goldmine, and they don't even appear to be aware of it. The clothes the RNC bought for Sarah Palin to wear on the campaign trail have been returned, and are reportedly being stored in "garbage bags" in the bowels of the RNC building. They originally said they were going to donate these clothes to charity. But let's all stop and imagine that for a moment. Let's see... a photo of a homeless woman dressed in Christian Dior looking puzzled... you can write your own headline. The RNC knows it would be a press relations disaster to have the story end this way. Which is probably why they haven't disposed of the clothes yet -- no one can figure out a way to do so without looking foolish.
Last November, I wrote about this and cautioned Democrats about what seemed to me to be the most obvious end result of the RNC Palin shopping spree fiasco:
Sarah Palin's shopping spree was paid for by the Republican National Committee, and has been the butt of many jokes since. But I am predicting that they will ultimately get the last laugh on this one. Democrats need to admit this before it happens, to get out in front of it, and not look stunned when it does happen.
"You know, there have been a lot of jokes about the RNC buying Sarah Palin a wardrobe. But my guess is that they will end up profiting on the entire deal. Those clothes are owned by the RNC, and (once they are all returned) there is nothing stopping them from using them as fundraisers. I can easily see some sort of auction where wealthy Republican donors get into bidding wars over owning an outfit worn by Governor Palin. An outfit that cost the RNC $5,000 could wind up making them tens of thousands of dollars from a donor who wants to wear an authentic Palin outfit, or give one to their wives (in the case of male donors). So the RNC had to endure a lot of jokes, but they could wind up getting the last laugh on this one."
The Republican National Committee would be crazy not to follow the example of Sarah's niece. Unless they're really being crazy like a fox.
Because it occurs to me that this whole thing may be a trial balloon to see what the media's reaction is to Palin souvenir sales on the internet. If nobody yelps, or nobody even notices, then perhaps this is just the beginning. After all, Sarah Palin herself has obviously sanctioned the sale of her "Double Dare" Naughty Monkeys. She will -- as a part of what is being offered -- autograph the shoes themselves (or not) if the buyer wishes. So she obviously told her niece it was OK with her.
Which makes me wonder. Perhaps there will be an auction soon (online or not) of the RNC's stash of Palin clothes. Republican donors will obviously put up big bucks for this stuff, so why not turn a fundraising profit on the whole deal? The only thing they have to fear is negative media reaction. The Republican donors who are seriously annoyed at how their money was used couldn't even complain if the RNC used their money to make even more money, now could they? And, from what I hear, the RNC could use a few bucks right about now.
So don't be too surprised if Palin memorabilia becomes a "Republican stimulus package," so to speak. And don't be surprised either if it follows the prophecy: "and a little child shall lead them."
Oh, wait, I said I wasn't going to talk about the niece in diminutive terms again, didn't I? Hmm... OK... let's focus on the shoes, instead:
"And a pair of Naughty Monkeys shall lead them."
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post
-- Chris Weigant