By Joe Campbell
June 11th, 2009
the Palin-Letterman feud that apparently got going a few days ago.As I’m not sure how much attention this has already gotten, let me start with a brief overview of
Letterman, after joking that Sarah Palin herself “Bought makeup from Bloomingdale’s to update her ‘slutty flight attendant’ look,” then went after her family’s famous fecundity:
One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.
Given Bristol Palin’s public figure, I think it’s well within the bounds of taste for a late-night humorist to go after her. I mean it’s undeniable that she cuts a bit of a ridiculous figure, as a self-appointed role model for abstinence and single mother. The 14 year old daughter – on the other hand – doesn’t deserve to be so ridiculed.
The Palin family then made the assumption that Letterman was referring to their younger daughter – and furiously, Todd Palin responded:
Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too.
And Sarah Palin decided to go with a more political response – calling on the familiar Nixonian contrast between Hollywood/NY and “real Americans” like her:
Laughter incited by sexually-perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/NY entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands – that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone’s daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.
Letterman seeming a bit shocked by all this replied:
These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old daughter. I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl…. Am I guilty of poor taste? Yes.
But the Palins apparently have no use for apologies – and ignore Letterman’s assertion that they had made the wrong assumption about who he was referring to. Rather than seeing this as closed, and protecting their daughter’s privacy by letting it go, they instead make their 14-year old daughter the punch line in a zinger designed to keep this story in the news. They insinuate David Letterman is a child rapist, rejecting Letterman’s offer to appear on his show by saying:
[I]t would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.
Even if David Letterman were referring to Willow – which he denies and which the joke was not clear about – what possible purpose, aside from political advantage and publicity, does it serve for the Palins to keep this going? The whole reason the outrage over Letterman’s joke hits a nerve is that even bringing up an older man taking advantage of an underage girl is taboo – especially if one is referring to a particular girl. Even bringing it up is dangerous. And this is precisely what the Palins are now doing – repeatedly – for no other reason than to advance Sarah Palin’s career. They’re using insinuations of child rape as a political weapon, as zingers. This is not a subject to be trifled with – or politicized. It’s wrong. Period. This isn’t a Hollywood versus the heartland issue. This is something we all agree on.
But unfortunately, when the Palins see an opportunity to divide Americans and demonize millions Americans, they apparently cannot let the chance slip by – even if it is in the best interest of their daughter.