Sarah Palin owes the American people a very sincere apology. She owes David Letterman an apology. She owes her own children an apology. Her actions and statements have been dangerous, exploitive, divisive and deceptive.
I am disappointed that the media pundits commenting on this case did not point out that Sarah Palin conveniently used a 6 second joke by a non-political figure to divert the discussion away from the role Palin's recent political rhetoric has played in creating a hostile and dangerous political climate in America over the past year. Palin's outrageous comments falsely connecting Obama to socialism, falsely creating a completely unfounded fear of Big Brother government and stoking up political paranoia on the Right is dangerous and in poor taste. Her kind of rhetoric can directly be connected to the recent murders by Right-Wing extremists at the Holocaust museum in DC and in Kansas. She stoked the paranoia and inflamed their misguided passions and twisted political world view.
The Palin-type of extreme political rhetoric from the Republican Right has been feeding a growing domestic terrorist problem in America. This kind of dangerous rhetoric routinely comes not only from Palin herself, but also, from Right-Wing talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, extremist Right-Wing websites like Free Republic.com and, unfortunately, from many, many Republican Party officials and activists. Examples of Right-Wing political hate speech on talk radio are legion. Free Republic.com has thousands of posted comments of the most extreme nature. At about the same time that Palin was making her most recent inflammatory comments, the Republican Party held a political fundraiser that raised over $15 million dollars where a second rate actor called Obama "dangerous" and made many other hate-filled comments about our President.
We all remember the Sarah Palin rallies during the 2008 Presidential campaign where the crowd contained numerous Right-Wing nut jobs who shouted "kill him" when Obama's name was mentioned. We all know about the Right-Wing conspiracy theories that contend Obama is a secret Muslim and/or not really an American citizen. We saw hundred if not thousands of signs to this effect at the McCain-Palin rallies in 2008 and at the Fox News/Republican sponsored anti-tax "tea parties" earlier this year. The man who committed the political murders at the Holocaust museum in DC wrote in support of these whack-job Right-Wing conspiracy theories on the Free Republic.com web site!
I have personal reasons to believe that the Anthrax Mail killer of 2001 was in part inspired by Right Wing talk radio shows like Neal Boortz and/or Right-Wing nut job websites like Free Republic.com. Sarah Palin intentionally taps into this political paranoia and Right-Wing political extremism with her over the top rhetoric. Her political career in Alaska has always been connected with extremist and political fringe groups. No other major political figure in America is as closely connected to political extremist groups as Sarah Palin.
Palin was certainly going to face a firestorm of political criticism over her rhetoric and extremist political connections in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust Right-Wing political murder! The criticism had just started when Palin made a huge political controversy over a 6 second David Letterman joke! It was an effective, intentional and cynical political move on her part.
Letterman apologized but Sarah Palin refused to accept the apology and let the matter drop. Doing so would not have helped her divert public attention from her rhetorical role in promoting Right-Wing extremism. It would have been the best outcome for her daughters but not for the political career of Sarah Palin. She placed her political ambition first over the emotional well-being of her daughters.
David Letterman did tell a rather crude joke, obviously referencing the 18 daughter of Sarah Palin, who is an unwed mother. It was in poor taste. Yes, it was a cheap shot. Comedians do that kind of thing every day to people in the public arena. Comedians go for the funny without regard to political correctness.
However, it is clear that Sarah Palin victimized her own daughter by putting her daughter in the public limelight just to advance Sarah Palin's political ambitions without considering the possibility of the inevitable public humiliation that her daughter would face. Sarah Palin made her daughter's unwed mother status and difficult relationship with her baby's father front page news. This was done by Sarah Palin, not David Letterman. It was done for political reasons.
The controversial joke would never have been told if Sarah Palin had followed the example of President and Michelle Obama in how they insisted the media treat their daughters. The Obamas did not routinely exploit their daughters during the political campaign the way the Palin children were blatantly exploited by their mother. The Obamas continued to try to shield their daughters from excessive media attention once elected.
Comedians are not political operatives. They are not and should not be held to the same political standards of behavior as journalists, officeholders, candidates or political spokespersons. Behaving badly and pushing the envelope of social acceptability are the norms when it comes to comedians. Nearly all comedians tell less than politically correct jokes. While the jokes told by political figures should meet at least some minimum standards of political correctness, the same certainly does not hold true for comedians.
It is obvious that the remarks made by the Palins that strongly implied that a teenage girl would not be safe in the company of David Letterman were absolutely in poor taste and blatantly false. Using words like "perverted" were uncalled for by Sarah Palin. She used and continues to use them in reference to Letterman. Falsely stating that Letterman advocated underage sex and "rape" were beyond acceptable under any circumstances. Sarah Palin is smearing a popular comedian to drawn attention away from her role in creating a climate that promotes political violence by Right-Wing extremists.
Palin must know that late night talk show hosts are highly unlikely to write their own jokes. She knows the jokes are not meant to defame anyone. She must know the only goal is to draw laughter. Misconstruing the actions and motives of David Letterman tells us a great deal about the motives and character of Sarah Palin. While Palin clearly demonstrated that she has no sense of humor, media pundits should be connecting the dots concerning the clearly manipulative and political nature of the Palin-Letterman joke controversy.
Palin should apologize. If she does not apologize, we should all call for her resignation over this matter. Sarah Palin will seemingly do anything to promote her political ambitions including using her children, making false statements, engaging in character assassination and promoting a dangerous strain of political Right-Wing extremism. American political life and the Republican Party would be better off if Palin would retire from the public arena.
Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio).