Recently Sarah Palin appeared at an event dressed as your 15 year old daughter.

Seriously, those Superman t-shirts were popular at Hot Topic. In like 1997. Now, in an effort to give her the benefit of the doubt, clearly this is some sort of casual, let's-attract-some-young-people kind of event (note the guitars in the background). Nonetheless, it is difficult to comprehend how it is difficult for Palin (and her acolytes) to comprehend why no one takes her seriously.

In a perfect world people would not be judged on their appearance. The world's greatest surgeon or lawyer could walk around dressed in a burlap sack and no one would think less of them. Every pair of pants would have an elastic waistband. Unfortunately the world is not perfect, and thus we are forced to wear real pants and uncomfortable business attire. In a professional setting, walking in wearing pajama pants and that bitchin' mustard-stained Primus t-shirt (Pork Soda-era) isn't going to cut it. And even if we are wearing the latest fashions, other people will make judgments about us if we are wearing, shall we say, "age inappropriate" attire. Is it fair? No. Is it stupid? Yes. But it's one of the many parts of adulthood that we stare down, suck it up, and accept.

So maybe Sarah Palin is some kind of agent of change, a radical willing to lead the way toward a new, less shallow society by encouraging us to judge her on the content of her ideas rather than her appearance. A few problems emerge. First, just imagine what the reaction among Palin's conservative fan base would be if, for example, Elizabeth Warren appeared at a campaign event dressed this way instead of Palin. Oh, the pant-shitting, my friends…the pant-shitting seas would be angry that day. Second, everything about her political career has been an effort to divert attention from her ideas (or "ideas"). Third, she gets a tremendous amount of mileage out of her appearance ("Dan Quayle with tits" was my conclusion the first time I heard her speak) and martyrdom (Look at how mean the media are to Queen Sarah!). Finally, we do have a regrettable tendency to judge female public figures on their appearance and style, full stop. Would we be so critical, or even notice at all, if this was a male political figure? For once I'll argue that we would. If Mitt Romney or Barack Obama – or even a professional Appearer like Russ Feingold or Al Gore – dressed like a 15 year old I'm pretty sure it would raise a lot of eyebrows and be grist for the commentary mill. Imagine any of those men wearing this and escaping comment:

The reality is that Palin, to the extent that she ever was, is no longer relevant. She'll probably be appearing in a thong and halter top soon just to get a few more minutes of attention. "Shame" is not part of her vocabulary or worldview. Someone toss her a multicolored beach ball and she'll do a trained seal act if it means you'll look at her and/or give her a few more dollars. If she has to dress like the Lord Mayor of MILF Island, so be it. And she wonders why she's taken as seriously as Carrot Top, even in the milquetoast-preferred, content-optional world of the Beltway.

By the way, take one last glance at that picture and remember that John McCain wanted that to be next in line for the presidency. Country first.