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Karl Rove, Jeff Larson and Red Leather

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In a clear-cut case of wearing too many hats, Jeff Larson, until now mostly known as a guy who knows Karl Rove way too well, has been exposed as the man behind Sarah Palin's red leather top, and another $140,000+ of wardrobe changes for the vice presidential candidate. He is also the man who rented his conveniently accessible basement (naturally) apartment well below market rates to close friend and embattled Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota; the man who owns the robocall firm that destroyed John McCain's career once and for all in the 2000 GOP primary; and the man whom McCain has hired this year to dish out robocalls against Barack Obama.

The robocall thing in 2000 was Republican sleaze at its most effective: it accused McCain of fathering a child out of wedlock with a black woman. This was in South Carolina. In a GOP primary. Needless to say, after being thrashed in the South Carolina primary, McCain did not peep another word for eight years until it was officially his turn to run for the presidency on the Republican side, at age 72.

In early 21st century Republican circles, a feat of this magnitude passes for extraordinary heroism, and it did not hurt that Rove loved himself some Larson. Now, accepting the fact that playing on the racism of South Carolina Republicans to win a primary is a career-making move, we have to ask: how does this qualify Larson, eight years later, to style a hockey mom/moose hunter/vice presidential candidate? It does not, as Sarah Palin's wardrobe clearly illustrates (sorry, really, even Valentino did not quite cut it). For all their love of smears, what Rove and his protege normally excel at is Hollywood staging-- the lighting, the dramatic backdrops, the manly men dropping onto aircraft carriers. Apparently Larson has struggled a little more at applying his craft to styling a mom of five. Perhaps it was not quite as fantasy-inducing as Rove's "Mission Accomplished" moment, even with all the Nancy-Reagan-red Neiman Marcus could produce.

Larson was also instrumental in convincing the GOP to stage its convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, a state that McCain is about to lose by double-digits (this would be like Democrats insisting their convention take place in Jackson, Mississippi). And a city whose claim to fame in 2008 is that Sen. Larry Craig kept a wide stance in its airport's men's rooms

There is little doubt that Larson has done well personally from this wide array of gigs (only a fraction of which are even mentioned here), but even the most versatile of Republican men simply cannot succeed every time as a stylist/phone bank operator/slumlord/event planner. Which leads us to believe that he must be really, really good at his other job: BFF to Rove and Coleman.

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