Monday, June 22, 2009

(Hopefully) The Last Thing I Have To Write About Letterman And Palin

Note (7/11/09): I started writing the following entry during my extended absence from my blog (something about a lot of work before taking a well-deserved vacation), with the intention of finishing it before my vacation. Well, that didn't happen, and since then, Sarah Palin announced her forthcoming resignation as Alaska's governor. More on that later. In the meantime, I present what eventually became an overly rambling piece that is still better than anything Peggy Noonan has written in over a year. Ignore the post date of 22 June; that was when I started it.

As a fan of Sarah Palin (and if you've been reading this blog for a while...or seen the calendar on my office wall, you know that), I suppose I've gotta make a blog entry about David Letterman's tasteless joke. Now, before you, gentle reader, jump to conclusions ("he said tasteless...he must be an idiot hard-right conservative Repuke"), let me clear some of them up: I'm not an idiot. There.

If you follow me on Twitter (and why not? It's a lot easier to write 140-character pithy items than it is to write, y'know, something actually thought out.), you know that after the story first broke, I had a lot to say about David Letterman. Here's why:

On Monday, 8 June, I happened to be watching David Letterman's monologue, and I noticed he took a cheap shot at the Palin family by saying that Sarah Palin had an awkward moment at the Yankees game; during the 7th inning her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez. Hardy har har. I brushed it off when I first heard it, thinking, correctly, that going after the Palin family is pretty typical for late-night comedians, and Letterman in particular...he had become steadily more bitter and more overtly liberal in his statements and/or rantings. (I have previously mentioned Mr. Letterman as being a "useless celebrity" (as defined here) for displaying this same type of behavior before. (Mr. Letterman also made other rude comments during his Top Ten list that I won't explore in this blog.)

In any case, I wasn't too concerned about Letterman's comment. Sure, it was rude, but, as I said, it was typical. Then I found out which daughter had made the trip: it wasn't Bristol, but Gov. Palin's middle daughter, Willow, who is 14. You know, I suppose that could be a simple mistake to make...that is, if you don't have a crack writing staff and the resources of CBS at your disposal. In any case, perhaps Mr. Letterman was unaware of which Palin daughter was in New York when he made the joke the first night. However, it was fairly well-known that it wasn't Bristol by the time he taped his Tuesday night show, in which he made yet another joke about Willow, this time involving disgraced ex-NY-gov Eliot Spitzer, "doubling down", as Jim Treacher would put it.

(It should be noted that I'd embed a YouTube video of this in here somewhere, but for some reason CBS has been very diligent in getting these videos removed almost as soon as they are uploaded.)

Well, you're probably aware of how it all turned out. It was pointed out that any reference to a 14-year-old girl having sex is, by definition, a reference to statutory rape. Then, Letterman made an incredibly lame well-you-didn't-understand-blah-blah-blah type of non-apology, and generally made things worse. And then he finally apologized to the wronged parties, all of them, by name, a week later, and Gov. Palin accepted the apology.

The question is: what, if anything, is there to learn from this? Well, I would say there are several things to be taken from this:

  • Apparently, some people think that the correct response from Governor Palin should have been to shut up and take it.
  • It is also apparent that some people think families, at least of conservatives, are fair game for any joke imaginable.
  • These same people think that any companies that pull their advertising (or do not renew it) as a result of pressure brought to bear are supporting censorship.
  • Apparently a lot of people don't realize the limits of the 1st Amendment. Private companies, such as, say, Southwest Airlines, can do what they want with their advertising budget; the 1st Amendment has nothing to do with it.
I've seen an outrageous amount of vitriol directed at the people who are continuing to press not only sponsors of The Late Show to cancel but also CBS to fire Mr. Letterman (disclosure: I am not part of this group...he apologized, and Gov. Palin accepted. I'll move on, though I probably won't be watching Mr. Letterman nearly as much in the future.). People are told to get a life (by people unaware of the irony of saying that while commenting anonymously on blogs written by people with whom they know they'll disagree vehemently), and that is the tamest thing said. (Use your imagination, if you must.)

Here's the long and short of the way Republicans are treated, both online and in the MSM: this is a form of bullying. The constant message being sent is that if you don't toe the party line of the loudest people, then you deserve what you get. It's basically the same treatment given to Carrie Prejean by, well, a lot of people, but particularly Perez Hilton, who will get a link from me sometime after hell freezes over. And we, in general, comply with the message being sent to us because: 1) it's the simplest way to deal with it; 2) we want to be accepted by

Obviously, I meant to say that we, for some reason, want to be accepted by those who vilify us. It's one thing to get's another thing totally to call the behavior of those people toward our side acceptable.

And one correction: I did, indeed, tweet about Letterman the night he made the first jokes, so I suppose it's not totally true that I "wasn't too concerned" about the comments. With that said, I figured I'd say my piece, and then everything would fade quickly. I did not make that tweet expecting the story to blow up as it did.

And now I'm starting to ramble again. I've gotta stop that. So I will.