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Friday, June 12, 2009

Rise up, sheeple! David Letterman must be stopped!

UPDATE: Read The Plank. I disagree with the sentiment expressed in the last section; Bristol, while arguably some level of "public figure" now, only came to national prominence as part of a deeply inappropriate personal attack on her family during the election and I think TV comedians should respect her privacy. But Zengerle's right about this:

Letterman has said that he wasn't joking about Palin's 14-year-old daughter, Willow, but her 18-year-old daughter, Bristol; and, frankly, I believe him. Why? Because the jokes make no sense if they're not about Bristol. First, Bristol is far and away the most famous of the Palin children; late night comics generally don't tell jokes about people who are obscure, for the simple reason that their audience won't get the jokes. Second, Bristol is famous for her sex life, having had an out-of-wedlock child and now, more recently, becoming a spokesperson for teen abstinence--which is why, for better or worse, any joke about her is likely to be one laced with sexual innuendo.

Yes, it's true (as Hanson emphasizes) that it was Willow, not Bristol, who attended the Yankees game with her mom. But my guess is Letterman was simply confused about which daughter was in attendance. More importantly, I can't imagine many people watching Letterman even knew which Palin daughter was at the Yankee game (it wasn't exactly national news), and, therefore, when they heard the joke, they just assumed the unnamed Palin daughter whom Letterman was joking about was Bristol--since Bristol is the Palin daughter who's not only famous but is famous for the very thing Letterman was joking about.

Indeed, if it weren't for Palin and Hanson and other conservatives making such a big stink about this, no one would be talking about the"statutory rape of . . . Willow"--as Palin herself did on the "Today Show" this morning. I once wondered how Palin, as a mother, could have accepted McCain's offer to be his running mate when she knew that, by doing so, she would subject her pregnant teenage daughter to national attention (and, with that attention, criticism and ridicule). But I'm even more baffled by her behavior here. Even if she does think Letterman was making inappropriate jokes about her 14-year-old daughter, how does it help her 14-year-old daughter to continue to fan the flames this controversy and just call more attention to the jokes? If I was a 14-year-old girl, I sure as hell wouldn't want my mother going on national TV to keep on talking about my hypothetical statutory rape. Contrast Palin's behavior, for instance, with that of Bill Clinton's after Rush Limbaugh and John McCain made nasty jokes about the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of his teenage daughter Chelsea. Clinton was reportedly furious about the jokes, as any father would be, but he didn't make a public spectacle of his anger or try to score political points from the episode. In fact, so far as I can tell, he (and the White House) refused to make any public comment on Limbaugh and McCain's jokes--presumably because doing so would make things even worse for Chelsea. Bill Clinton's name isn't exactly synonymous with family values, but, on this one, I think Palin could definitely stand to follow his example.