Posted tagged ‘david letterman’

Sarah Palin & The Art of Victimhood

June 16, 2009

Wow. I am impressed with this woman’s skill. Scared, but impressed.

For those who avoid the news, David Letterman told a joke involving one of Ms. Palin’s daughters, an unwed, 18-year-old mother. This joke was also about baseball’s Alex Rodriguez. Never mind that, or that this single mother has been the subject of mainstream media and late-night comedy since news of her pregnancy broke while her own mother was running to be our Vice-President. The elder Palin has turned this particular moment of late-night television into a seemingly endless soap opera, with herself and her daughters, and all young women, including those serving our country in the military (huh?) as the victims of a “perverted,” “so-called comedian.”

Unfortunately, Letterman goofed. The unwed mother in question didn’t go to the ball game, a younger sister did. And so did Opportunity visit, and it was welcomed with open arms. Ms. Palin publicly discounted the obvious meaning of and personalities in the joke, hypocritically calling the mistake a convenient excuse. Instead she created and sold a convenient scenario where a sicko Letterman was intentionally targeting her younger daughter, a child rarely if ever seen in the public spotlight before now. Palin telescoped the joke, and invoked young women everywhere as its victims. The rhetoric and histrionics hit such a nerve in a like-minded segment of the public that a “Impeach Fire David Letterman” group was organized.

It is said that minor children of politicians are off-limits to the media, by convention if not by actual rule. There are always exceptions; Chelsea Clinton’s ugly-duckling looks, to turn the tables, were the butt of several jokes I can recall with discomfort. Rush L. famously called her the White House “dog.” There is a difference: Chelsea’s appearance wasn’t a matter of her choice. Further, Palin’s political background is of the “Just Say No,” “Family Values” variety. I know nothing of Sarah Palin’s skill as a mother and nurturer of children, and I’m no one to judge. Still, that sort of conflict of words versus reality is something that invites scrutiny, particularly in candidates for national office.

So, Sarah Palin has revealed herself as a gifted mud slinger and opportunist. Perhaps it is redundant to identify these traits in any politician. While I had hoped she and her folksy veneer would be soon forgotten as the nation tried to pull back together in unity, now I think she’ll be in the national light until at least the next election. She got off to a shaky start in the big leagues, but she’s clearly got unfinished business and the political know-how to keep it in the public eye. Still, it seems to have escaped notice that the younger Palin’s true victimhood stemmed from her mother pulling her from obscurity and holding her up in the spotlight to make a disingenuous, self-serving point that never needed to be made. Well, unless you count building her public visibility and support at the expense of two innocents: the smearing of David Letterman and the privacy of her own 14-year-old daughter, Willow.

It should be unsurprising that in today’s editorial-as-news, one writer effuses over Palin’s magnanimous acceptance of Letterman’s apology, and suggests we should all be more like her when we are similarly aggrieved.

In short, she got down and dirty, and at least in the view of some, ended up on the moral high ground. Wow. She is good.

I wish I had a hole to crawl into, a protective place, a shelter from the storms of media-fanned, irrational frenzies like this.

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are normally intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

UPDATE: Like “OctoMom” jokes, I’ve long since tired of reading anything about this subject. Still, I was surprised and pleased to find one piece I could agree with.

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