Are you as amazed as I am Sarah Palin is still invited on mainstream talk shows? I'm not talking about Rush Limbaugh or the cable religious shows, but respected venues like CNN's Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room and to chat with NBC's Matt Lauer on The Today Show.
The woman was a flash in the pan, invented by John McCain's handlers to spark interest in his flagging campaign. With all the competent women he could have chosen, he picked a fly by night governor of one of our smallest states, who'd only served a year and a half and yet was expected to inspire confidence she might lead the free world.
Okay, enough said. That's the recap. The election's over. However, there are still conservative -- make that right wing -- diehards who'd love Palin to bring about resurgence to the Republican Party. In their dreams they believe she should be president. And while some might remind me similar jokes were made about Ronald Reagan's chances for the White House, at least he was a two-term governor of our largest state and before that had built a nationally prominent nice-guy reputation as a popular actor in movies and television.
Sarah Palin is a lightweight, desperate not to fade away, as happened to Dan Quayle, and he was actually an elected vice president. And with her audience generally limited to fringe groups, she recently seized upon some silly patter on a late night talk show, and with the Media's help has turned it into a cause celebre.
For those few of you not aware, David Letterman does a monologue at the beginning of his CBS show. He also announces a daily list that purports to enumerate the top ten fanciful and fabricated things about something happening in the news.
Some of the stuff is dead on and great; others are silly and often a bit lame. He skewers the high and the mighty and celebrities, Palin included, but ridicules himself more than anyone else on just about every show.
So, what's the beef? Earlier this week, Letterman had a dumb joke about Palin in his top ten list: "Bought makeup at Bloomingdale's to update her slutty flight attendant look." I wasn't offended. It just wasn't that incredibly funny. What was intriguing was Palin didn't take note of another joke, which had her involved with a kilo of crack.
It's doubtful the top ten list alone would have caused attention. However, in his monologue, referencing Palin's attendance at Yankee Stadium with her husband and unnamed daughter, Letterman said, "One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game: during the seventh inning her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."
Palin sensed an opportunity and accused Letterman of promoting date rape of her fourteen-year-old daughter Willow. As it turned out, she was the daughter who attended the game with her parents, but there's not a doubt in my mind that most of the viewers watching the show reacted to the joke with the vivid image of Palin's older daughter Bristol, who had gotten "knocked up" by her high school sweetheart.
Letterman said so in a nine-minute chat with the audience on The Late Show the following night, reiterating that, whether the joke was dumb or even tasteless, it was Bristol he was talking about, and that she was eighteen and therefore a legal adult. He repeated, almost too much for me -- I didn't think he had to -- that he would never make fun of a fourteen-year-old girl in a sexual context. And I think most sensible people believed him.
In fact the worst that can be said is that his gag writers should do a little better research before committing their boss to a faux pas, but frankly no one ever talks about Palin's other daughters. Conversely, Bristol has been the butt of jokes for almost a year, has appeared on talk shows herself and was paraded by Palin and the Republican Party along with her then-fiancee, Levi Johnston, on the stage of the Republican Convention and throughout the campaign. No doubt to soften the "pro-family" shock among the party faithful, who would have gone after Bill Clinton with a vengeance if Chelsea were pregnant.
Sarah Palin is simply a Media hog, hypocritical and ruthless as it gets. Was it a coincidence that it was only after the campaign ended that Levi Johnston was summarily banished, no longer needed and later decried by Palin and her husband for cashing in on the family name. As if they hadn't used him as well?
Reprehensibly, the Media lapped all this up and went about it as if they were chasing an ambulance. Many replayed Palin's accusations or interviewed her, and she repeated what was now a lie -- because she knew better -- that Letterman had somehow violated her daughter. And worse, many of the Media journalists didn't follow up her comments with the fact that Letterman insisted he was talking about Bristol.
She further described David Letterman as a "so-called" comedian, a description that might better be associated with her political future. She also referred to him as a 62-year-old to somehow make the comment appear smarmier, as if he were an old lecher flashing young girls at the local middle school.
This, too, was disgusting on her part, because it was ageist and uncalled for. Would the joke have been less offensive if Letterman were 35 or 40? She then refused his offer to have her come on his show saying that she didn't want to help his ratings. This, from a woman who has been gallivanting around the broadcast Media with her false depiction of Letterman, an American treasure. A woman who appeared on Saturday Night Live last fall, a show in which Tina Fey frequently made Palin appear like an idiot, in a desperate attempt to appear cool and bolster the doomed campaign of her and her running mate.
Indeed, I was in Germany last October watching the SNL appearance on You Tube with my friend German TV Star Andreas Stenschke. He laughed along with me and said this could never happen in Germany. There were satirical shows, yes, but the actual political figures would never personally appear on such a program, as it would be considered undignified.
And that's the point of this piece. Sarah Palin is outraged about nothing, but is so intent not to be forgotten that she stoops to the lowest levels. It's time for the Media to act responsibly, as the electorate did last fall sending her back to Alaska and the frozen tundra, where she can hunt her beloved moose and fade away.
Michael Russnow's website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com