Campbell Brown sounds off on the RNC’s shopping spree, but she does so to defend the RNC, not to bury Sarah Palin. The criticism of Palin’s clothes obviously touched a nerve with Brown, who makes the point that people scrutinize the appearance of women far more than men. Would you like Campbell Brown without makeup and in sweats?

Personally, I think Campbell would look just fine in scrubs, and it wouldn’t change the actual news at all — which is another point to be made in this kerfuffle. Why do we scrutinize the appearance of women so much more than men, especially in the public sphere? To extend Brown’s analogy, I suspect no one would notice if Wolf Blitzer owned five suits and three ties and wore them in a distinct weekly pattern, but heaven forbid a woman tried getting away on the cheap like that on TV or almost anywhere else.

The RNC isn’t going to take the risk of putting Palin in that kind of position. We can argue about the amount of money and the stores they patronized, but even that’s silly, as I wrote yesterday. Palin and the RNC aren’t doing sociological experiments in sexist double standards; they’re trying to win an election. Campbell Brown wants to win her time slot. Both Brown and Palin know that the public has certain expectations of women and their appearance that may be unfair, but neither of them want to sacrifice their careers in protest to the double standard.

Update: I’ve added the AOL Hot Seat Poll on this question:

I got to this a little late, and AOL already had 20,000 votes counted – and it was at 60% yes. Interesting; Campbell Brown seems to have gotten it right.