Sarah Palin Continues To Drag Daughter Through Mud For Political Gain

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoVC2qah1DU]

The controversy over the poor taste of a few of David Letterman’s recent jokes continues to receive attention in the media and blogosphere, but the actual jokes have become overshadowed by the manner in which Sarah Palin has decided to sacrifice the good of her children for political gain, along with the mob mentality expressed by many on the right wing.

In the most benign reaction from the right, ditto heads repeat endlessly how Letterman’s jokes were in poor taste. True, but this is hardly worth spending any more time on. Everyone agrees that the jokes were in poor taste. Even Letterman agrees that he should not have told the ones about Bristol Palin (but he sticks by the reference to Sarah Palin as looking like a slutty flight attendant).

The controversy began over the slutty flight attendant joke and it wasn’t until later in the night that some dishonest right wing bloggers realized they could get millage from a joke about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy.  They realized the benefit from whining about a joke about Bristol was limited. While it might not be in good taste, tasteless jokes are commonplace on late night television. Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson have all told jokes about Sarah Palin and about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. With Bristol Palin now appearing in public, including at a recent public event in New York, right or wrong she will be considered fair game by the late night comics. The bloggers came up with a way to smear Letterman over this with blatantly untrue claims that the joke about a daughter getting knocked up was not about the daughter who had actually been pregnant but about Palin’s 14 year old daughter Willow.

The right wing bloggers who started this smear campaign have no interest in either feminism or in defending a child such as Willow Palin. In actuality they are doing the opposite as it is the right wing bloggers, not David Letterman, who are responsible for dragging Willow Palin through the mud. Letterman did not mention Willow Palin, did not tell a joke about a 14 year old, and did not tell a joke about rape as the right wingers are claiming. If it is wrong to tell a joke about a 14 year old being raped, it is also wrong to make false accusations that Letterman did this.

The whole issue could have died when Letterman explained the jokes and invited Sarah and Todd Palin onto the show. Instead Sarah Palin decided to sacrifice the good of her children by continuing to drag Willow Palin through the mud in order to gain politically. While David Letterman never told a joke about raping a fourteen year old, Sarah Palin told such a joke about raping her own daughter.

Perhaps Palin’s initial bizarre reaction could be overlooked as the reaction of a mother who was mislead by the right wing bloggers into thinking that her daughter was under attack. Her behavior is even harder to justify after she went on television today to continue to both attack Letterman and repeat the false claims about what he said, again showing that she places her political gain over the best interests of her children (video above). I would think that Willow would prefer that her own mother stopped talking about her being raped on national television.

This is no longer a matter of the inappropriateness of Letterman’s jokes. It has become a prime example of the mob mentality of the authoritarian right as they attempt to shout down anyone who attempts to criticize or joke about their reactionary views.

Sarah Palin has no qualms about spreading lies which keep her 14 year old daughter in the news, or even joking about her, if she thinks it will help her politically. We know that relations between Palin and the McCain camp were not very good by election day, but perhaps she should listen to the advice of  a couple of McCain advisers:

“If the right goes after Letterman they make him look big and themselves small,” says Mark McKinnon, a campaign advisor to George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “It’s win-win for Letterman.”

Republican media consultant Fred Davis, a chief ad-maker for the McCain campaign, added: “I think it’s a mistake too many conservatives are making right now. They are trying to find anything to attack.”

Davis sought to downplay the egregiousness of the offending Letterman cracks, saying, “David apologized. He said it was over the line. He is a funny guy and his job is to do sarcastic humor. That’s his thing.”

James Walcott puts the reaction of the right into perspective:

Here it is Friday and outraged conservatives are hanging on to their outrage against David Letterman’s Palin mockery as if it were a mountain-climbing rope, hoping to get as much traction and leverage out of it as possible while the rest of the media, perversely, refuses to join in and ramp this up into another Imus pillorying. As mentioned before, I didn’t think much of Letterman’s (writers’) jokes about Sarah Palin and her daughter visiting Yankee Stadium, but I take Letterman at his word that the “knocked up” line about Alex Rodriguez and the daughter didn’t refer to 14-year-old Willow, and the followup crack was clearly directed at Elliot Spitzer’s libido, not the Palin girl’s wanton attractions. I agree with Margaret Carlson, even though it gives me an itchy sensation, that Sarah Palin is badly misplaying this by refusing to accept Letterman’s apology and invitation to appear on the show, instead calling for a torch-carrying peasant uprising to besiege Frankenstein’s castle (with Paul Shaffer lurching to one side in the role of Igor). Unless Obama appoints a Comedy Czar to reprimand and restrict Inappropriate Punchlines, humor is going slop over into bad taste or cheap stereotype, and making an immoderate to-do over this is comes across as opportunistic grandstanding–reveling in your own ire. There are comments sections in righty blogs where the posters vent their fantasies on how Todd Palin ought to violently handle this to defend Willow and Bristol’s honor–variations on smashing Letterman’s teeth down his throat or all over sidewalk, or busting him in the ‘nads–and pound home the word “rape” in their indictment of Letterman, accusing the host of condoning/promoting/making light of statutory rape, hitting the word hard over and over again as if hammering their fist into their palm. It’s clear they get off on the mental impact of what they insist their denouncing, like anti-porn advocates who wallow in every detail to make their case.

He does have some reasonable advice for Sarah Palin:

If I were Sarah Palin I’d get myself booked on Conan O’Brien’s marionette show, giving his ratings a surefire jolt at Dave’s expense, and then behave like Graciousness Itself, all smiles and tight-skirted sexpot dignity, not even deigning to mention Letterman by name. If Palin wants to be Madame Prez someday, she’s got to get out of that comfort zone known as the Fox News ghetto anywho.

Steve Benen points out that Palin gets into too many feuds:

Palin is in a feud with Letterman. She was in a feud with the organizers of the fundraising dinner for the Senate and House Republican campaign committees. When beauty pageant contestant Carrie Prejean made headlines, Palin decided to jump into the argument. The governor has been in a feud with her teenage daughter’s ex-fiance. Palin has even been in a feud with actress Ashley Judd.

Far be it for me to offer Sarah Palin advice, but I have a radical idea: maybe the governor can try an “above the fray” approach for a while?

Margaret Carlson also advises Palin against getting into a feud with Letterman:

Palin has spent much of her public life in feuds with the state legislature, with her ex-brother-in-law, with John McCain’s staff, with Levi Johnston’s family. An early fight with the chairman of Alaska’s Oil & Gas Commission paved the way to the governor’s office. She mostly wins, especially when the target is as easy, say, as a high-school dropout whose mother is under federal indictment. The Johnstons make the Palins look like Rockefellers.

But picking a fight with a trained comedian, refusing to accept his apology, and continuing to battle after the white flag is shown reveals a complete lack of political sophistication.

Letterman apologized at unprecedented length for a comment about Palin’s recent trip to New York. There was, he said, “One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankees, during the seventh-inning stretch, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.” To which the Palins shot back: “Laughter incited by sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is… disgusting.”

Who said anything about a 14-year-old girl? Not Letterman. That would be… the Palins. It turns out it was Willow, not Bristol, who went to the baseball game. But who knew that until the Palins brought this “disgusting” comment so painful to their younger daughter to the attention of the 300 million people not tuned into David Letterman?

Letterman’s joke was indeed tasteless—he even owed A-Rod an apology. But I doubt there was another soul in the world who didn’t understand the joke to be about the older Palin daughter, who lapped Jamie Lynn Spears as the most famous pregnant teen in the world once she was trotted out at the Republican National Convention in August. Not that Bristol should have been left at home in the dark, but if you want a “zone of privacy” around your daughter, do you have her appear on stage with her then-fiancé hinting at prospects of a White House wedding waving to the crowd like Charles and Diana of the Klondike?

And exploiting Bristol as an unwed teen mother didn’t stop with the campaign. Back in Wasilla, where Bristol could have been sheltered and given space to rebuild her life, the Palins arranged to send her out like a vaudeville act, traveling the country to talk about teenage pregnancy under the sponsorship of Candie’s, a clothing company known for sexually provocative outfits for tweens…

Palin appears to be squandering her leftover fame from the campaign on staying famous, settling scores, making headlines over petty concerns, securing the cover of People magazine for Bristol. She could have been the keynoter at the Republicans’ biggest fundraiser of the year on Monday night but instead played a coy, will-she-or-won’t-she game for weeks.

So in the end, Palin spent a week when she could have given a substantive speech, laid out a political philosophy, or choosing the issues she wants to run on, deliberately misinterpreting a bad joke, in the process dragging yet another child into the celebrity scrum.

And by the way, isn’t making a federal case out of a tasteless joke exactly what the right wing loves to ridicule feminists for doing?

Michelle Renee saw the irony in Palin’s overreaction:

I sat back in my chair after reading this and thought, “Isn’t part of the problem 16 year olds getting pregnant?” Comedians joke around. They make fun. They find a hot button and push it. That is what they do and I personally love that they can take almost any topic, serious or not, and make me laugh about it.

Palin, on the other hand, is a comedian of a whole other kind. She doesn’t even know that what she is saying about Letterman while she herself is the one needing to apologize to young girls for her and her daughter’s example has many of us in stitches.

If anyone needs to look at what they have said that is a problem and has been a poor example to young girls, how about “I can see Russia from my house” or “My 16 year old daughter is pregnant”. I am not perfect and have made some really stupid choices in my lifetime. But to sit back, film an interview while a turkey is being slaughtered behind you, throw a baby shower for your teen daughter, babble on television trying to pretend you know anything about foreign policy like a badly operated puppet and then point fingers at Letterman and say he is the problem and needs to apologize…wow.

That is ignorance and denial I can’t help but laugh at while scratching my head wondering how the hell this women ever got on the McCain ticket in the first place.

We are still waiting for you to apologize, Ms. Palin. But we are not holding our breath.

While the primary motivation of the right wingers is to silence opposition to their views, as usual their arguments only resonate in the echo chamber of the far right. There is the danger that Letterman could suffer if those who are unaware of the facts believe the false claims being made about him. Fortunately the 2006 and 2008 elections showed that most Americans are no longer fooled by the endless string of distortions from the right wing. While conservatives are waging a fatwa and calling for the firing of Letterman (if not for more violent solutions), Letterman is beating The Tonight Show in the ratings for the first time in eight months. His unusual response of talking about the controversy demonstrated that, even if his act includes jokes which sometimes cross the line, he is basically a class act and the king of late night. The Scoop summarized why Letterman is on top and ended with a comment on his response to Sarah Palin:

Without going into laborious detail, regardless of your stance on his original inflammatory remarks, Letterman’s response to Palin can be categorized as deft and well-executed. It won’t hurt him. If nothing else, the summit just came into clearer view. The race to the top is really on, and in the end, the competition will be good for all involved.

The right wing smear campaigns are likely to “hurt” David Letterman about as much as repeated smears from the right hurt Barack Obama.

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9 Comments

  1. 1
    Rogerio Galiano says:

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  2. 2
    rogeriogaliano says:

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  3. 3
    Jack Sass says:

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  4. 4
    jacksassradio says:

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  5. 5
    tjproudamerican says:

    Thank you for making this point about The Palin’s responsibility in dragging yet another of their children into the Public Sphere.
    The contraversy, such as it is, was always absurd when it was made as if Letterman would ever make a joke about a 14 year old. Letterman never has made any such joke in a career that spans 30 years, and there is nothing in his character to suggest he would.
     
    Letterman IS a moralist. He will never forgive Bill Clinton for his lies and behavior and I bet he sees another Clinton-Class Liar in Sarah Palin.
    But, I am thanking you for making a point that needs to be made which is that it is Sarah Palin who embarrasses her children by using them as props. Even her silly statements about Willow drag Willow into the media, speak for Willow and embarrass her:
     
    “Hey, take it however you want to take it,””It is a comment that came from the heart that Willow, no doubt, would want to stay away from David Letterman after he made such a comment. And you can interpret that however you want to interpret it.”
    Matt Lauer : “Well is that not perhaps in bad taste also, governor?”
    Sarah Palin : “No, it’s not in bad taste,””Hey, maybe he couldn’t be trusted because Willow’s had enough of this type of comments and maybe Willow would want to react to him in a way that maybe would catch him off guard. That’s one way to interpret such a comment.” http://ngepress.com/news/sarah-palin-matt-lauer-today-show-interview-letterman-joke-video/

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    “I bet he sees another Clinton-Class Liar in Sarah Palin.”

    That also implicitly points out that his targets are not determined by party. Yes it is true that he probably thinks less of the Republicans right now but that is because they have moved so far to the extreme right, and their views have become some ridiculous, that most educated, intelligent people see them as laughing stocks. Their ridiculous claims that Letterman made a joke about Willow, and their continued attacks after he agreed he should not have made the joke about Bristol, only makes them more ridiculous. They have greatly over played their hand on this one.

    Letterman makes jokes about people in the public eye, regardless of party. While I might prefer that they lay off Bristol Palin, the fact is not only that she is in the public eye, but it is Sarah Palin who is largely responsible for that. If they were not parading her out in public as the new spokesperson for abstinence, and hadn’t used her family as she did during the campaign, Bristol wouldn’t be seen as fair game the way she is by the late night comics. Now right wing bloggers are responsible for dragging Willow’s name through this, and Sarah is willing to play right along for political gain without regard for the welfare of her children.

  7. 7
    nal says:

    Was Willow even at the Yankee’s game? All the proper news accounts only mention Todd & Sarah and the Giulianis. All the photos show only the two couples. If Palin claims that she believes that Letterman was joking about Willow and she knew Willow was not at the game, then I call faux outrage.

  8. 8
    nal says:

    Palin confirmed that Willow was at the game in the Matt Lauer interview. No need to accept my comments.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    I initially held these comments per the second one, but put them through Monday as they make an important point. The media coverage did not mention Willow being at the game. While it is not possible to check all local broadcast coverage, a search for coverage in the print media showed minimal mention of Willow, and that was in connection with her being at events with Sarah Palin other than the game.

    Everyone knew about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and would assume that a reference to a daughter being pregnant would mean Bristol, regardless of who was at the game. Virtually nobody knew Willow was there until the right wing blogs and later Sarah Palin brought Willow’s name into this. It was the right wing bloggers and Sarah Palin, not David Letterman, who tied Willow to the jokes about pregnancy. The attacks on Letterman have nothing to do with Willow–they had started after Monday’s show even before anyone came up with the claims the jokes were about Willow as opposed to Bristol.

    Still, there is a lesson for joke writers and others here. There is a danger they hadn’t foreseen in making a reference to “Sarah Palin’s daughter.” While it was obvious the joke was about Bristol (and still in poor taste) such a vague reference made it easy for right wingers who love to distort what others say for their attacks. In the end though, this all probably helped Letterman with the controversy and his response improving his ratings and helped further discredit the right wing’s credibility. It will also decrease the Bristol Palin jokes from all comedians, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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