Sarah Palin's polar bear pin

What to wear when you're driving species to extinction.

Published October 23, 2008 8:05PM (EDT)

In the midst of all the fracas about Sarah Palin's $150,000 designer wardrobe, the Republican vice-presidential candidate busted out her favorite polar bear lapel pin at a campaign event in Troy, Ohio, on Thursday. 

A photo of Palin with the white polar bear pin standing out on her brown suit jacket can be found here. Palin watchers will note that this is hardly the first time that the candidate has worn the ursine adornment out on the campaign trail. More Palin polar bear pin pictures are here and here.

Speculative theories abound as to why Palin wears the pin while on the stump: Is it Alaska pride? A polar bear and bear cub are the symbol of the state's "Made in Alaska" program. Is it anti-American? The polar bear is also the symbol of the Alaskan Independence Party, the secessionist party to which "First Dude" Todd Palin famously used to belong. Or is the pin just so much hockey-mom costuming? Nothing screams regular gal louder than a little local wildlife kitsch glitzing up your couture.

The irony is that, much as she may favor the Arctic dweller's image, Palin is no friend of the polar bear. In January 2008, long before she was running for veep, Palin wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times opposing the bears being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Defying Palin's wishes, the famously anti-environmental Bush administration listed the polar bear in May 2008, because of the deleterious effects of global warming on the animal's habitat.

If Palin wants to adorn herself with images of animals that her policies are driving to extinction -- actual pelts tend to be big no-nos under those oppressive federal laws -- her lapel could get crowded. Next, whoever's doing Palin's shopping should start looking for a beluga whale pin. Palin recently opposed increasing protections for those whales, which live in Cook's Inlet, because it could interfere with offshore oil drilling. 

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Katharine Mieszkowski

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