Friday, June 12, 2009

My First and Last Thoughts on the Palin-Letterman Fiasco

1. Letterman's "slutty flight attendant" remark, though somewhat sexist, fell within normal late night comedy rules. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's dress over the Memorial Day weekend certainly qualified as being within the subset of tastelessly dressed women that many associate with the stewardess-on-the-hustle genre.

2. Letterman's remarks about a daughter of Palin, in the jokes about Alex Rodriguez and Elliot Spitzer were way over the line. I don't care which daughter he meant. Progressive Alaska has posted one fake movie poster, showing a pregnant Bristol, back last year. It was in fairly poor taste, but joked about a situation that actually existed.

Letterman's remarks, even when qualified as "jokes," were fairly disgusting, at least to me.

3. Palin's reaction to this is almost as disgusting. They are very accusatory and inflammatory. What are they intended to portray?

She and her husband would have done best to move on, leaving Letterman to have to figure out how to deal with the long-term effects. Her reactions show, once again, that her advisors are still no more ready for prime time than she is.

Palin, attempting to portray herself as somebody ready to defend young women from any kind of sexual advances, appropriate or not, is cynical opportunism, nothing more.

She is the person who ended a line item in the Wasilla Police Department budget for payment of forensic examinations of sexual abuse victims.

She is the person who fired her public safety commissioner within days of his announcement that Alaska law enforcement agencies were going to more aggressively pursue sex crimes in Alaska.

She is the person who hired a man with a history of sexual harassment in the workplace to replace the forward-looking man she had fired.

******** ********

David Letterman has always struck me as the most opportunistically meretricious of the late night TV program hosts. We have rarely tuned in, throughout his career.

images - Palin at Memorial Day observances, 2009; Howard Stern in drag on Letterman's show


basheert said...

Very nicely said.

Whether you like Letterman or not, whether you think his jokes are tasteless or not, he is a late nite comic and not a reporter or a journalist. He is not everyone's cup of tea and most people who don't like him don't watch him. I found his Top 10 Hilarious during the 2008 campaign though.

He did admit the jokes were tasteless and took responsibility.

SP is beating this horse to death. She has gone way over the top and whatever remote credibility she might have had is now done.

In several blogs, there has been criticism leveled against picking on young women. I can tell you that as a woman, we are tougher than men on each other. We have had to fight for everything and to attain equality. As a general rule, most women intensely dislike women who use and abuse their sexual identity as a club. She is, quite frankly, embarrassing to many of us.

Whatever Letterman did - he did. He made some bad jokes.

On the other hand, SP has made this a cause celebe and frankly, she has become downright embarrassing in her remarks.

She has chosen to exploit her children and use the word RAPE - sure Dave's joke was dumb. Is it time to string him up from a tree now? Have we as a society decided to become so thin skinned that we lose our sense of humor?

In all honesty, if you don't like his humor, don't watch him. But she's feeding him on a daily basis. She should have made her point and dropped it.

As it is, she's the one who is looking pretty bad here. Not only that, she's making a lot of us ashamed and wanting her to just shut the heck up.

clark said...

i always kind of liked dave, more than the others. [jay leno -- yecch! like the vintage cars, not the doritos commercials or endless bill clinton sex jokes.] just don't watch too much TV at all, now or at any time in my adult life.
maybe dave's just kept going past a sensible retirement age. he can't need the money anymore.

Anonymous said...

Anyone in a prolonged fight with a comedian will be ultimately labeled as a joker. Even McCain knew that.

Anonymous said...

well summarized, Phil. thank you.
I found I became uncomfortable when in her Lauer interview she used phrases like"rise up" and"he who should be obeyed". My concern is her using this to foment hatred....more hatred, that is.

Tallimat said...

Letterman creeps me out.
Palin does too.
Prevo is a pervert.
Pretty much, none of the above,
includes you.

Seriously now.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with anything Letterman said. He was merely pointing out what the Palins have been parading publicly for quite awhile now. As a woman, I am not offended by Letterman. I am, however, offended by Palin's use of her sexuality as a tool when it suits her. She's consistently inappropriate. Period.

Anonymous said...

Amanda Coyne at Alaska Dispatch has a good post on this:

Palin's making it worse on herself. Wait, correct me, she's using this for her advantage.

Anonymous said...

As usual, even though she is governor of a state, Sarah Palin is again in way, way over her head. David Letterman, she ain't.

But the question is, can Sarah Palin run for president based on a campaign of faux outrage d'jour, resentment of the media / Hollywood and populist anger about god knows what? Wouldn't be the first time Republicans have tried that. Doesn't sound to me like a way to get a majority to follow you. But I'm all for Palin et al learning to experience failure - again.

onejrkitty said...

Why doesn't someone ask Guiliani if Willow was at the baseball game.

From other blogs, it seems that was Guiliani's wife NOT Willow.

Why? Because others are using Willow's (supposed) presence at the game to accuse Letterman of knowing it was Willow, not Bristol.

Also: seems Willow turned 15 in January of this years. When you are that young 1.5 years makes a big difference even though her age is a moot point IF Letterman had aimed his joke at her.

Also important that Palin 1) does not know her child's age or 2) Palin is lying to spin the argument against Letterman.

From here, it looks like A-Rod and Spitzer were the butts of the jokes far more than the girls.

What Palin has now done is give Letterman room to joke about HER and HER and TODD's manufactured outrage.

Stupid is as stupid does.


P.S. I am 65 yr old female who was a feminist before the word existed ! David was NOT sexist. Getting knocked up is gender specific. You cannot joke about a man getting knocked up, only a woman. Not being sexist to state the obvious nor to comment on a gender specific issue.

NOW, unfortunately, is full of crap and where the hell were they when Palin made rape victims pay for their own rape kits, or when Palin was sexualizing her VP campaign, or when W.A.R. said "If a man can't rape his wife, who can he rape?" NOW THAT OFFENDED ME.

N.O.W. is now acting like an intimidated "whipped" husband.

Ennealogic said...

For the most part, I agree with your post, Phil.

But let's not go overboard with Letterman-bashing. Remember that it was Sarah herself who 'outed' her unwed knocked-up teenager. WHY? Because she thought it might kill the story that she had faked a pregnancy. (It didn't.)

What did that do to Bristol's self-esteem? Think about that for a minute. Think about the effect that had on Willow, too. To preserve Mom's image, your inglorious sexual transgressions shall be exposed. And now Sarah has the gall to get up in arms because Letterman made a joke about a Palin daughter who got knocked up?

Late night humor has never been kind to politicians, or to anyone who becomes a celebrity. It is Sarah's fault, and hers alone (I doubt Todd got a say in this) that her knocked-up daughter got in the spotlight to start with, and remains in the spotlight today as an abstinence promoter for an organization that sells sex to pre-teens.

And Letterman is a pedophile, promoting statutory rape? Sounds to me like there's some raw guilt around the issue...

Anonymous said...

She keeps talking about "the other side of the ticket". Someone needs the tell her the campaign is over and she LOST BIG TIME! Now it's time for her to go away like Dan Quale when he lost or grow up and do something good for society like Al Gore when he lost so the grown ups can fix the mess her party made. I mostly agree with what Phil says but I do think Sarah brought most of this on herself. If she doesn't want national comment then she should stay at home, in Juneau please, and try governing the state. In one of the comments it was stated that Willow is 15 1/2. I checked and that is correct. Willow Palin, born January 21, 1994. That shows how much Sarah cares about her family. She doesn't even know her kids age.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered the possibility that Bristol may have been raped ?

Not psychologically by her mother, but by the father of Trig ?

That could partly explain why this has struck such a nerve.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Ennealogic.

Letterman's joke was not pleasant but on it's own it's not a big deal either. Who would have paid any attention if not for Todd calling it a rape joke right away. I haven't been a fan of any late night shows, I fall a sleep. But I will stand up for Letterman on this one.

It is way over the top to do the pedophile, statutory rape bit about a late night comedian. They could have written him a letter and handled it like adults. I see what the Palins are doing far, far worse then a stupid tasteless joke. It's sad the language, like "knocked up" is so acceptable now. Does Bristol care about what adults think? I doubt it. She said more then once she pays no attention to that media or the blogs. If you read what her peers say, and her MySpace, they speak in a far worse way. She would care if someone her age said things she felt was inappropriate. She doesn't care about the old folks. She has said it doesn't bother her.

Letterman didn't cause "knocked up" to be acceptable language. Did you ever listen to Dr. Laura? She use to knock down the self esteem of women and teens all the time by calling them sluts and going on and on to denigrate. Now her public relation people spin her as if she has always been a saint.

I don't wish for any innocent man to be labeled as the Palins are doing to Mr. Letterman. He has never shown any signs that what they are claiming is reality. They are out to destroy him.

Now Palin is trying to spin as if she is interested in women's issues. And a Republican New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb has written CBS CEO Les Moonves asking the network chief to fire David Letterman.

Anonymous said...

Two years ago, KNOCKED UP was the #1 movie in America. Where was the GOP outrage then over the terminology?

Anonymous said...

The GOP loves those terms like "knocked up" and "slut" when they control who it is said about.

Elena said...

Letterman can be switched off. Unfortunately, this is not possible with Palin.

Philip Munger said...


Believe me, the Alaska progressive bloggers are looking harder than anyone for that switch.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Palin for Governor. I will probably vote for her again depending on who else is running.

But it's obvious to me that she is not going to be a real factor in the national election.

I am still mystified by the hateful, whiney vitriole from the left about her. If I were on the left, I would ignore her.

Why does the left pay so much attention to her?

Anonymous said...

@6:42, this isn't a good week for a Palin supporter to come to progressive blogs complaining about "hate" coming from the left. A rightwing Palin admirer shot and killed someone at the Holocaust Museum just a few days ago. Did you forget that?

Tallimat said...

It doesn't take a left winger to figure out Palin is a bit absent in the brain department. And it doesn't take a left winger to figure out Palin is hugely weak in International experience.

Look, I got a deaf 17 yr old that thinks Palin is a walking talking conflicted sphere.

sauerkraut said...

Palin has often used her daughters whenever she thought their appearance might benefit her politically or personally. So if a comedy routine includes a reference to one being knocked up then she's only got herself to blame for the inclusion of an unnamed daughter in the monologue.

I do not agree that her response is almost as bad as the joke. Her response has gone way over the top. Especially when The Dud accuses Letterman of talking about rape of the 14-y.o. and when Sarah Palin keeps on yapping about statutory rape. Her response is particularly over-the-top when considering her claimed advocacy for abstinence among teenagers when neither she nor Bristol practiced abstinence - to the point of being knocked up.

Knocked up, of course, was the punch line.

Bob Broughton said...

1. "Abstinence-only sex education" is a riduculous idea, and anyone who advocates it is going to be ridiculed, and deservedly so.

2. "I am still mystified by the hateful, whiney vitriole from the left about her." Never mind that "vitriol" was mispelled, this is an attack on straw people.

So, why do I ("I" as in "me" and "myself"; no need to attach some meaningless label) hate Palin so much? Never mind that she and Todd are grifters. (Jon Stuart got this right.) I immediately figured out that Palin was no good when I heard the story about how she tried to fire the librarian in Wasilla.

How could Palin possibly put her hand on a bible and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States when she has no idea of what the Constitution of the United States is about?

What I've just presented is a CONSERVATIVE concept. Look it up.

EyeOnYou said...

This is manufactured outrage to draw attention either to herself or away from something else. I pointed out on Mudflats...

Palin did a hyped up appearance on Saturday Night Live just one month after they did a comedy sketch on Todd having an incestuous relationship with their daughters. THAT wasn't enough to keep her off the same show, instead she gladly "gave them a ratings boost", but for a bit of an off color joke on an unnamed daughter of hers she is willing to declare War?

If she was that concerned with her daughters and how they were treated by the “Hollywood/NY” entertainment types she would have point blank refused to appear on SNL and have made a HUGE deal out of their sketches on Todd & the girls.

Another point, not once did Letterman mention the girls name he was referring to, but the Palins in their supposed righteous indignation referenced all of them by name in one of their numerous statements on this subject. They are simply once again using their children in an attempt to portray themselves the victims of the media.

KaJo said...

EyeOnYou said (in part): "This is manufactured outrage to draw attention either to herself or away from something else..."

Yeah, the mainstream media isn't looking very closely any more at her plagiarism issue from the introduction speech of June 3rd, are they?

I note with some amusement that the see4pee people are "moving on" from this embarrassing "rape" accusation by their idol and her househusband, nearly ignoring it in favor of their new toy, Exxon/AGIA.


KaJo said...

OK, listen up everybody! I've got the final be-all, end-all proof that Sarah Palin was lying about Willow being the subject of the "joke" by David Letterman (big surprise, huh?).

In addition to what we've already realized, that so far there's no visual proof that Willow Palin was ever at that Sunday June 7th Yankee game....

According to this phrase in The New York Daily News -- which'd I'd read before, I just didn't realize the significance of it -- "the Palins left sometime in the sixth inning for the [Independent Group Home Living Foundation] award ceremony honoring Palin."

The Yankee game started at 1:10 PM EDT on Sunday June 7th. It wasn't a nighttime game.

The 6th inning was around 3:00 PM in the afternoon, which would have given the Palins lots of time to get to the awards ceremony.

Therefore, even if a photo of Willow being at that game ever does surface -- if the Palins left in the 6th inning, they wouldn't have been there for the 7th inning, which is when a Palin daughter was supposedly being "knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez!

David Letterman's "apology under duress" is a valid apology.

Sarah Palin, you are SUCH a liar.

karen marie said...

gosh, i've been looking everywhere for palin's condemnation of the sexist and racist remarks about sonia sotomayor and i cannot find it anywhere ...

given her grave concerns about the way females are talked about in the media, i can't imagine that she hasn't already spoken up.

Anonymous said...


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.")

Egy Azziera said...

I am not a fan of Palin, but this issue isn't really liberal or conservative to me at all. I think Letterman was out of line.

Anonymous said...

My First and Last Thoughts on the Palin-Letterman Fiasco

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