Meredith Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem |

Meredith Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem

Meredith Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

Much to the surprise of me and most everyone who knows and/or has ever met me, it has recently come to my attention that I’m way smarter than previously believed. How else to explain why I’m seemingly one of the few people savvy enough to gag every time a presidential or vice presidential candidate pretends to feel the pain of an Average Joe?

The candidates spend lots of time in front of cameras in mom-and-pop diners at the counter eating chicken fried steak and cherry pie à la mode surrounded by people wearing overalls and big floppy grins. They swap their tailored blazers for windbreakers (or, in the case of Cindy McCain, nine-carat diamond earrings for the six-carat versions) and talk about how [insert the name of a small town or medium-sized city here] reminds them of where they grew up. And that the factory down the street is just like the one where [insert the name of a candidate’s parent] struggled to make ends meet in order to feed the family. Which is why they feel comfortable wearing hard hats even though they’re also wearing dress slacks, Hermes neckties or scarves and Ferragamo shoes.

And then inevitably later that night they’re photographed at white tie and tails events, the price of admission to which is more than those diner waitresses and factory workers make in a year. Or reports surface of Michelle Obama ordering Iranian caviar and lobster from room service while staying at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Who casts their vote for someone based on their Average Joe credibility when these Joe Schmos don’t bat their eyelashes using more forks over the course of one meal than most people have in their kitchen drawers?

Sarah Palin has been adamant about taking exception to the hypocrisy. In a speech last week in North Carolina, she spoke passionately about how “the best of America is in these small towns … and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America.” Of course not too many small towns in the real America have their own Saks Fifth Avenue department stores. That’s where she managed to blow through $49,425.74 in two shopping trips last month. And that’s nothing compared to the $75,062.63 she spent in just one day ” also last month ” at a Neiman Marcus. (Too bad she didn’t have an extra $84,937.37. Then she could have put it all on the all-new $160,000 Neiman Marcus Limited-Edition 2009 BMW Individual 7 Series sedan that’s being offered in the store’s 2008 Christmas Book. Although in some ways it’s probably a blessing in disguise. After all, how does one clean moose poop off alloy wheels?)

And it’s awfully strange that Palin hasn’t made more of an effort to share the real America with her family. Instead, she spent over $20,000 of Alaskan taxpayer’s money to travel her daughters with her to big cities like New York and Philadelphia and spend multiple nights in swanky hotels like the Essex House and the Ritz-Carlton. Although she claimed each time that her children were performing official state business, most of the event organizers contacted by the Associated Press confirmed the Palin kids were neither expected nor invited.

To be fair, I do think it’s completely believable that Joe Biden spends just $20 on his haircuts (even if his barber charged by the hair, it couldn’t possibly cost much more, could it?). I’m also not surprised that the Obamas own only one car (of course as a U.S. Senator and a candidate for the highest office in the land, his car is probably collecting an awful lot of dust in his Chicago garage while he spends his time on the campaign trail in the front of private planes and the back of chauffeured vehicles). Todd Palin might just be the most genuine of the whole bunch though. He stopped by the Village Inn in Glenwood Springs for breakfast on Tuesday morning. While he pressed the flesh of the 40 or so people who showed up to lend their support, something tells me that the guy who proudly refers to himself as the First Dude of Alaska probably would enjoy the Hungry Farmer Meal (all-natural spicy Italian sausage and bratwurst, diced ham and a strip of hickory-smoked bacon. Topped with Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses. Served with country potatoes, two scrambled eggs and made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes) and an iced French Vanilla Villaccino™ even when the cameras are off and he’s not on the campaign trail.

Just a hunch. Cause apparently I’m pretty smart like that.

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