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It’s About More Than Simply “Letterman Versus Palin”

June 15, 2009

Sarah Palin was John McCain’s running mate during the 2008 election. This is true. And as far as I know, she’s still governing Alaska. Therefore, she’s got a job, in a state far away, where she can shoot wolves from helicopters and ski and work on the rough-and-tumble state’s economy. And I wish her all the best.

When Palin ran for Vice President, it was about the politics. Then, the McCain/Palin ticket lost. And the rest that followed indicated to the American public that Palin was now going to pursue what she truly wanted all along: to be a famous person. Notice that after the election, she went on Rachel Ray to cook, she invited Good Morning America to visit her home and hang out with her family, she fielded ideas of hosting her own television show.

In short, she stopped seeking political office and started seeking her politic-free, no-hassle fifteen minutes of fame.

This is not an indictment of Palin. Good for her, branding herself like that. But as Obama stepped in as POTUS, the interest in Palin began to wane.

Then she figured out how to get back on the radar.

Iconic talk-show host David Letterman, beloved by most and bolder, more crotchety and funnier than ever, decided to take aim at the governor’s recent trip to New York City. He mentioned that she stopped by Bloomingdale’s to update her “slutty flight attendant look.” He focused on her goings-on, because, let’s face it, she wanted people to do that. Sarah Palin could have very easily slipped into a city of millions of people and no one would have been any wiser. But she had her publicists get the word out. And then, when she became the butt of some jokes about it, things got out of hand.

Letterman made a misstep that Palin used to pounce. He made jokes about her family that referenced her daughter in a sexual fashion, jokes that have been cleared by Letterman as being directed toward her 18 year-old daughter Bristol, and jokes that — if we really want to get into semantics of the construction of said jokes — were actually more about the sleaziness of other famous figures that Palin’s daughter herself.

The two jokes in question both dealt with other widely-unpopular New Yorkers right now. One mentioned that Palin and family attended a Yankee game with former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, mentioning that the toughest part of the day was “keeping [former NY Governor] Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter.”

The second made reference to the same game, also mentioning that the day turned sour when “Alex Rodriguez knocked up her daughter.”

Okay, so it wasn’t the smartest idea to reference a minor in those respects. But it is, after all, a joke. And one that, by Letterman standards, is fairly tame. But if we actually bear down and dissect the jokes themselves, we can see that the joke was really only partly about Palin’s daughter. On a surface level, the jokes were about public figures, adult males, coming on to young mother Bristol — who, let’s not split hairs here, we know has had sex at least once. But at their roots, the jokes both were more at the expense of Rodriguez and Spitzer — Spitzer, the former governor whose infidelity revealed he liked much, much younger girls, and Rodriguez, whose widely-publicized philandering has painted him as one of our nation’s most famous cads.

Was it an easy target to tie Palin’s New York visit to those two famously boorish New Yorkers? Sure, probably. Was it possibly not the best idea? Again, probably. But Letterman since has been nothing but forthcoming about his regret at the jokes. Case closed, right?

Wrong. Palin has used the link to late night television to worm herself back into the fabric of today’s news, refusing to accept Letterman’s apology and using the forum to insert herself back into any news program which will have her, any newspaper that will listen, and even joining Matt Lauer on the Today Show to talk about it. She and husband Todd have inflated the issue to be that the jokes insinuated not only “the objectification of women” (something, it should be noted, that Palin didn’t seem to have much problem with when she herself was being ogled by a nation as the prospective veep), but even about rape — an issue that has been engineered to hurt Letterman as much as possible, and so far from being the point of the host’s jokes that the mention of the word is like screaming fire in a movie theater. Make no mistake about it, that allegation was designed to get attention.

Letterman, as so many of his comic brethren have before him, may have slightly crossed the line with the Palin family jokes. But, just as his many colleagues before him, he has expressed a guilt and regret to having done so. Of course, it didn’t help that the attack on Letterman only fueled his fire, as is normally the case with him, and he continued to joke about Palin, only drawing more ire from Palin and her political party, who really should just stay out of this, because it has nothing to do with politics. Yet there’s pundit Sean Hannity, demanding that Letterman be removed from the air. Even the conservative Chicago Sun-Times piled on, equating Letterman’s jokes with the hate-fueled speech of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who threatened to derail the Obama campaign. And let’s be honest, the GOP has had it in for Dave since his public dust-up with McCain last year.

Though Palin’s gang has helped to bring the issue front and center, this has absolutely nothing to do with politics. Instead, it’s a clear-cut case of a public figure grabbing her mike and putting herself back in front of our faces. If Palin wants to go back and just be the governor of Alaska, that’s fine. By all accounts, she’s done a great job. But if she wants to publicize herself and her family, if she wants to be famous, she needs to understand that she’s stepping outside the circle and as such, she’s held to the same scrutiny as Mel Gibson’s Anti-Jewish allegations and Madonna’s African babies. That’s part of the deal. If you want to be out there, then you’re out there. Not all jokes about you are going to be that you’re “ditzy” or “hot.”

Letterman clearly erred by making the jokes, for which he has publicly apologized and attempted to clear the air. But here, in the second week of Palin’s new “press tour against David Letterman,” things are starting to get ridiculous.

Did we mention that Palin, in mid-May, just signed a massive book deal with HarperCollins? The plot thickens.

Whether Letterman’s edgy jokes about Palin’s family crossed the line, or whether Palin has simply found a soapbox to climb upon and keep herself in the public eye, one thing’s clear: some folks just can’t take a joke.

3 Comments
  1. Raisa permalink
    June 16, 2009 2:51 am

    DAVID LETTERMAN’S HATE, ETC. !

    David Letterman’s hate is as old as some ancient Hebrew prophets.
    Speaking of anti-Semitism, it’s Jerry Falwell and other fundy leaders who’ve gleefully predicted that in the future EVERY nation will be against Israel (an international first?) and that TWO-THIRDS of all Jews will be killed, right?
    Wrong! It’s the ancient Hebrew prophet Zechariah who predicted all this in the 13th and 14th chapters of his book! The last prophet, Malachi, explains the reason for this future Holocaust that’ll outdo even Hitler’s by stating that “Judah hath dealt treacherously” and “the Lord will cut off the man that doeth this” and asks “Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?”
    Haven’t evangelicals generally been the best friends of Israel and Jewish persons? Then please explain the recent filthy, hate-filled, back-stabbing tirades by David Letterman (and Sandra Bernhard) against a leading evangelical named Sarah Palin, and explain why most Jewish leaders have seemingly condoned Palin’s continuing “crucifixion”!
    While David and Sandra are tragically turning comedy into tragedy, they are also helping to speed up and fulfill the Final Holocaust a la Zechariah and Malachi, thus helping to make the Bible even more believable!
    (For even more stunning information, visit MSN and type in “Separation of Raunch and State” and “Bible Verses Obama Avoids.”)

  2. Thy Holy Taint permalink
    June 16, 2009 2:27 pm

    Look dude, I’m Thy Holy Taint, aka God’s taint. You know, that space between God’s balls and anus? Well, let me tell you, you have it all wrong. Look, Zecharaiah ans Malachi both hooked up with a scratchy apache somewhere at a truck stop in New Mexico. They thought they were just smoking a joint with him, but evidently it had mescalin in it. Well, they went on one hell of a trip. They went to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, imbibed several casks of wine, at some white castles, and then wrote all that stuff down. None of it is true, I mean, they were tripping balls.

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