Thought Possible

notes & magnifications, by J.E. Robertson
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JUNE 12, 2009 10:15AM

Sarah Palin is Lying: Letterman Never Joked About Rape

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David Letterman joked that Sarah Palin's "daughter" (he never said 14-year-old or her name) was "knocked up by Alex Rodriguez". The joke was in poor taste, clearly, but that might be why comedians don't carry the title "reverend" before their names. The joke was (let's all be honest here) about A-Rod's alleged promiscuity and about the famous case of Sarah Palin's older daughter who had a baby out of wedlock. 

Letterman himself has said the joke was "ugly" and that he regrets telling it. And I think most people agree that it's better when politicians' children are not attacked in efforts to mock the politicians themselves. Children should not be brought into it. But the fact is, Sarah Palin is making a specific allegation against the comic, and he never specified which daughter (the Palins fabricated that "attack" on their 14-year-old by saying she was the only one at the baseball game, nevermind whether Letterman knew that or not), and he never recommended or joked about "statutory rape", as Gov. Palin is so fond of saying.

So it's instructive to think about why is it that Sarah Palin finds herself time and again in these hostile confrontations on the national stage over her family life. The media is not lusting after a chance to attack her family; it is Sarah Palin who has repeatedly sought to use her family in order to score political points. Instead of just appearing with her family in public as other candidates have done, or praising their individual qualities, she sought to use her daughter Bristol as an "example" of a young woman who had to face the choice of aborting a baby or carrying it to term.

It is Sarah Palin who has leapt at the chance to inflate a random comment about a baseball player and extramarital relations into an accusation of crimes against underage women. It is Sarah Palin who is now exploiting the second of her own daughters, in a light specifically related to sexuality, in order to gain attention. She deserves the benefit of the doubt, at least to the degree that we can assume she does not intend to exploit her daughters' sexuality; but she deserves less of it when she abjectly lies about David Letterman, accusing him of promoting "rape".

Are we to believe that Sarah Palin is really so delusional as to believe that the intent of Mr. Letterman's comment was to belittle child rape or to attack "young women across this country", which she says with the same wry smile she used last fall when she would accuse then-Senator Obama of hating America or of "palling around with terrorists". Sarah Palin is lying, and she is exploiting her own daughter, by way of a fabricated scandal, in order to get attention for herself. 

It is a disgrace to the value of family and honest and forthright public service as virtues in our society that she would do this. It is a disgrace to conservatism that she so willingly props herself up by lying about other people. And it is a disgrace to Alaska that its governor has nothing better to do than to spend her days on talk shows fanning the flames of hatred against one or another person whom she has deemed to be fodder for her endless quest to grab the spotlight.  

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The ultimate hypocrisy is that here we have a comedian who made a joke (whether it's funny or in poor taste is a subjective call), and you would think that this was the end of civilization.

Then, you've got someone like Ann Coulter, who suggests that someone should put rat poison in a Supreme Court Justice's creme brulee, and when she is called on it, she claims it was a joke. She then gets a pass.

Something is very wrong here.
If you are proud to be an American, or a woman, or an Alaskan... or even a Republican, you should be very ashamed of Sarah Palin. Her need to push her family in front of her to score political points is disgusting. I heard Letterman's explanation and accept it - mentioning the children was in poor judgement, but Palin remains a clod.
You argue your point well, J.E., but as a lifelong Letterman fan, I really disagree. If I were Palin, and I'd heard that joke, I would've been out for blood, too. Letterman, to his credit, clearly knew he stepped in it, and apologized.

After perusing the letters to Amanda Fortini's piece in Salon today, it reminds me that a lot of Palin haters think it's perfectly OK to denigrate her anyway they want, purely because of her politics. That strikes me as the biggest problem in this whole hoo-ha.
Kerry, I think it's wrong for people to viciously denigrate someone just for their beliefs, if those beliefs are more or less mainstream, but I think that there are two classes of impassioned criticism of Palin: there are the people who are reflexively against her, because they assume she is an agent of darkness out to impose some sort of Alaskan shari'a law, and who use her as a punching bag regardless of merit, but there are also those who attack her character and her credibility, precisely because she has played so fast and loose with the facts about other people's character and has even resorted to outright slander in order to whip up support among angry crowds at public rallies. It's not right to just attack people for the sake of doing it, but there is no way to justify the kind of rabble-rousing that she was engaged in last year: she has openly and obviously shown herself opposed to civility, then calls for it when it suits her.
For the record, he never said, nor implied, that rape was involved. That is a word the Palins planted.
Stellaa, I'm not sure what you mean by "by a Hispanic player, why not a white guy". Are we just heaping phantom crimes on Letterman? There was no joke about rape. He did not imply that A-Rod would do such a thing because of his ethnicity. It was clearly a joke about a ladies-man ball-player and a last name associated with teen pregnancy, nothing more. It was out of line and tasteless, but it was not a promotion of or a joke about "rape".
Sexist remarks are sexists remarks, whether directed at a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Feminists would do well to oppose both.
Great point, Redstocking Grandma. It's a fair criticism to say that "knocked up" is a sexist term. That's a fair criticism of Letterman's language. And, in fairness, it has to be said that some of the same conservatives who are up in arms about this controversy, openly joined in the vicious degradation of Hillary Clinton (not just one year ago, but persistently since 1992) that included sex jokes, references to violence, and even mock "action figures", in every case with a cruelly sexist intent. Some of them have openly defended John McCain's cruel remarks about Chelsea Clinton, which were sexist on a number of levels, actually.

Yet, while Letterman should apologize for being crude or sexist in his choice of words or imagery, Sarah Palin should give serious thought to the entirely false accusation she made, suggesting that Letterman intended to promote "rape". There is simply no ethical or moral defense for that exaggeration, and we have to think seriously about what it is we seek as a nation and as a democracy when we let our political leaders operate in totally fictional rhetorical terrain, while ignoring the problems of real people.
Sarah Palin is a walking, talking, governing joke with an unforuntate penchant for using her mother bear instinct on the national stage. I do hope that some day comedians band together and succeed in mocking her into submission.
I suspect that Sarah Palin loves every moment in the spotlight. This one included.

If she truly wanted to protect her daughter(s) from an embarrassing (and yes, tasteless) joke, she wouldn't be making the talk show circuit to keep the joke alive.

I'm reminded of the flack over Alec Baldwin's insulting words to his daughter on what he thought was a private voice-mail message. Should he have said those things? No. Was it for the teenager's sake that her mother and/or mother's attorney released Baldwin's insult to the press and created a weeks-long controversy? Not on this planet.

Palin and her ilk could take a clue from Letterman on at least one aspect of parenting: protecting the child's privacy.
"Sarah Palin "buying makeup at Bloomingdale's to update her slutty flight attendant look," as well as his joke about Palin's teenage daughter: "Sarah Palin went to a Yankees Game yesterday … during the seventh inning stretch, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez." (Letterman insists he was talking about her 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, who actually had been, well, knocked up, not her 14-year-old, Willow, the daughter who attended the game.)" Amanda Fortini, Salon.

Sarah Palin is a governor. She is a politician. The misogyny is not going unnoticed that she and her daughters are considered fairplay, reduced to their sexual organs and hair. Fingerlakeswanderer writes a great post about this today. You can make excuses all you want but it's still just misogyny. David Letterman is an old, stupid, untalented idiot and still, nobody reduces who he is to his genitals.
Predictable and pathetic post.
So many paragraphs just to say The Bitch Was Asking For It.

And yes, we have heard that before. Going after people's children, regardless of their use as "props", is Limbaugh-level contemptible, as are those who would rationalize it. (This includes Bristol, who despite being 18, is still off limits to people with souls and brains.)
Well put. I'm only saddened that Letterman has taken the bait and spent time defending himself of something he very obviously did not do. Palin is indeed shameless, but we already knew that. I only wish that I could repress the taste of bile in my mouth every time I see her talking with that half smirk on her face.
I think it was actually her husbands letter that mentioned rape, and, although their misinterpretation of the joke was either based on abject stupidity, or the desire to get back into the spotlight for another 15 minutes, the fact that they thought it was about their 14 year old daughter leads one to conclude that they were talking about statutory rape, not non-consensual rape.
Wycked, I don't know if some of the commenters are saying so, but I am not arguing that "The Bitch Was Asking For It". Not by a long shot. I do think, though, that Sarah Palin herself needs to also honor the dignity of her office and not use it or the controversies that swirl up around her in order to lie about other people, just to prop herself up as a conservative hero. She is lying about the precise nature of Letterman's ill-conceived insult to her family, and she is doing it cynically and for her own gain. Or she just doesn't listen well. That has nothing to do with her being a woman and nothing to do with her "asking for it". But she owes the public, and the people of her state especially, the courtesy of being honest about issues she perceives as relevant to the public interest. She is not asking for misogynistic treatment, but is not adhering to a minimum of ethical public comment either.
Not going to get into the right and wrong of the jokes themselves. Plenty of other people will do so. Dave even says they are bad jokes (except the slutty stewardess one).

The thing I find interesting is the core mistake.

Dave thought he was joking about Bristol. Palin thinks he is talking about the 14 year old (the kid that was actually with her). In his apology Dave, doesn't seem to recognize that this mistake was made. He continues to state he is making fun of 18 yr. old Bristol, but he can't be in the context of the joke (because she wasn't at the events in question).

His defense doesn't stand up because he is actually wrong about what he said in the actual jokes. He is defending what he MEANT to say, but the context can't actually make the words mean the daughter that he wants (or thought he was using).

The jokes were constructed around Bristol (which is obvious by what they are about)... but she wasn't actually there... so they became about the 14yr old, who was, which makes her mom exrta mad (wh can blame her?).

The two of them are actually arguing different things, and in this case Palin is right (who would ever think I would type that?). Dave did joke about the 14 year old... but not on purpose... due to shoddy research about he events of the day.
Letterman was wrong. That's plain and simple.

Palin could have come off smelling like a rose on this but because she and her husband like the attention they had to turn it up a notch and imply that Letterman would harm their daughter.
J.E.- If a man sexually degraded my daughter on national television, "adhering to a minimum of ethical public comment" would be a dwindling dot in the rearview mirror as I RAN IT THE FUCK OVER on the way to that man's house. In that context, I admire Palin's restraint, if nothing else about her.

And yes, JE, you were definitely blaming Palin, with lines like: "it's instructive to think about why is it that Sarah Palin finds herself time and again in these hostile confrontations on the national stage over her family life."

Is it because her daughter was targeted with misogynist abuse by a man with a national audience? No, it's because (to paraphrase your many paragraphs) the Bitch Was Asking For It.

Incidentally, the A-Rod impregnated your daughter "joke" was a way of calling (assumed) Bristol a slut without directly saying it, as he did to Palin. I'm physically incapable of expressing the disgust that behavior and it's apologists deserve.
I agree that the joke was offensive. I don't agree that asking someone to not seek Biblical vengeance against the joker, by slandering him as a pervert and child rapist, would be to perpetuate the offense of the comment. Palin has obligations to human decency as well. The point is not that she was "asking for it". She was not. The point is that being offended does not give one the right to launch into such radical false claims about another person.
The joke was in poor taste, no one, joking or not should use a politician’s kids against them. That’s low. I’ve never liked Letterman.

However that doesn’t give Palin the right to milk the situation for her own gain either. As Hello pointed out, the joke would have died by now if she let it go. I don’t watch Letterman and the only reason I know about this at is Palin’s The Bully is Picking On my Daughter Tour.
A little reader (or listener) response criticism is called for: I saw the original jokes on Monday night, and I construed the "daughter" to be Bristol. Everybody in America knows about her pregnancy, whereas I (and probably a lot of others) clean forgot there was a 14-year-old daughter, much less knew who was at the ball game. Yes, the joke was tasteless, but it wasn't the *same* tasteless joke the Palins have criticized.
God, I miss Leno. He'd have never stepped in this. But that's why people complained he was dull . . .
What ticks me off is that these jokes, from Leno to Letterman go on every night, and now it's an issue because it's Palin's daughter. This is the magnitude of the greed, ambition, and dishonesty in that clan.

Nobody had such drama inducing trouble with the tasteless jokes about (then) 16 year old Myley Cyrus, or even the child that Michael Jackson allegedly molested.

Comedians have tasteless jokes in their arsenal. Sometimes they're funny. Sometimes not.

The Palin family has done more than their share of mortifying things. They will continue to get disrespect if they continue to be attention and money seeking opportunists.

Oh...your post is great. rated.
So the best I can conclude here is that we have two comedians going after each other. I laughed out loud this morning when I heard on the news that a Palin spokesman reiterated that she would not accept an offer to appear on Letterman because they didn't want to do anything to boost his ratings. Actually, they already did that. It's Conan that's really steamed about all of this.
Sorry but have we forgotten about the "slutty airline stewardess" reference BESIDES the joke about Palin's daughter.....let's put some other women at the other end of these jokes and see how they fly......they would not......and as a woman I am offended at BOTH no matter what side of the isle I decide to be on. David Letterman should be called on the carpet to make an REAL apology...this is about him and his writers NOT about Palin and her daughter so let's put the blame where it should actually lay.
You agree the joke was offensive, JE? And here I thought it was just in "poor taste".

At any rate, I happen to like the berserk response Palin's displaying, because I've despised people who attack other people's children since Limbaugh went after Chelsea. (Chelsea and I are the same age.) To let people get away with that is to invite moral hazard, and we have invited more than our fair share of that in this country. As such, I believe there should be extreme non-criminal consequences for that behavior, and if it damages Palin's electability, so much the better.
While I deplore la Palin's politics, I must note that Letterman said "knocked up by Alex Rodriguez", which plainly must refer to the younger daughter, who was present at the game. The 18yo was not. Sex with a 14yo IS statutory rape.

Letterman has always been somewhat off center, but this goes beyond the pale. He should demand the resignation of whichever writer(s) concocted this "joke", and he should also apologize to Willow Palin.
@stellaaa: What was pathetic about Letterman's apology was the mea culpas about the 14 year old, yet the "fallen girl" the 18 year was sort of open season.

Ouch, that's a really good point.
Interesting, Wycked, maybe we're finding common ground on this debate, sort of. You write "To let people get away with that is to invite moral hazard", speaking about comedians going after people's children.

I agree that there is moral hazard in that degree of wild mudslinging. But I don't agree that "berserk" behavior is a good thing, especially in political figures. I think that is exactly the point here: Letterman's comments were over the line, and an apology would be welcome, but to answer insult with slander is also over the line, and "berserk" reactions to snide remarks, however insulting, also invite moral hazard.

Maybe through debate here, we can reach some level of consensus. Maybe it would be something like this: Letterman made ugly jokes that were sexist and degrading, and he should apologize for doing so. Sarah Palin, as a mother, is right to be offended; as a woman, she is right to speak up and say she feels this is wrong; and as a human being, she has a right to demand an apology. But none of those truths give her carte blanche to make so wildly nasty an allegation about a comedian who crossed over the line as to say he is promoting statutory rape.

I think that's a fair reading of events.
"Instead of just appearing with her family in public as other candidates have done, or praising their individual qualities, she sought to use her daughter Bristol as an "example" of a young woman who had to face the choice of aborting a baby or carrying it to term"

JE: I think this is the central point to your argument and I believe it's an accurate assessment. I think the Palins (don't forget Todd) stand guilty as accused of using Bristol rather than protecting her. I thought it impressive when Obama declared that families should be off-limits during the campaign. He and his campaign stuck to that declaration. It's invariably been the Palins who have thrust their children into the media spotlight then cry foul when the inevitable happens. It's sordid, you ask me.
Better way to put my point: Letterman should apologize for the joke he made (all double standards duly noted), but he shouldn't apologize for the joke he's accused of making because it's not the joke he made. That make sense?
Yes, Diotima, that makes perfect sense.
I think most of us take things to seriously...we all probably need a good lay
Totally agree with Jeanette D.

When Anne Coulter announced that John Edwards was gay...wrong! The manner which Anne used the word illustrated malice . Was she berated constantly? Not really.

Palin exploited her family troubles when she was campaigning. She thought by doing so would help advocate certain causes within the Republican party.

This has nothing to do with HATING Sarah Palin.
Although, I do find her actions highly hypocritical.

Much like when Obama made the statement about the Special Olympics. We know that he is compassionate towards mentally challenged people. Yet, with the way people reacted you would have thought he had tripped someone on the track. It was ridiculous.

Letterman is a comedian! We are programmed not to take his jokes seriously. He apologized. Enough is enough.

Out for blood. Say it isn't so!
....and one more thing to add....

Letterman is a wonderful person....underneath his comedic mask....:o)
David Letterman often steps over the line, let's face it, it's what he does best. I agree that the Palin family is just a joke waiting to happen, but I have to agree with Kerry. If it had been my daughter he made that joke about, I'd be out for blood.
some of the comments you're getting are pitiful.

i was a sarah palin impersonator for a short time and i was shocked that one friend of mine thought i was being sexist, just because i dressed up like her when she was in the beauty pageant. reality matters folks. if you really were a beauty queen, it's not sexist to comment on it.

if you really have a daughter, it is not sexist to notice what she does. traigus makes a really good point about whether or not letterman even knew which kids she brought to the game (thank god it wasn't trig... how would we begin to parse that joke? ). the joke letterman made was sexist, but he didn't say anything about rape or hispanics. that offense isn't in the joke, it's only in some people's interpretation of the remarks. what are we doing to the language, when the words we say mean entirely different things to everybody? and sincerely, i don't watch letterman. i would never have even heard this comment if the palins and their fans hadn't freaked out.

i'm going to be really happy on the day that we have genuine equality AND free speech. in the meantime, letterman didn't say anything about women at large or rape. i'm not going to jump on him for something he didn't say on the off chance i'm able to read the minds of talk show hosts and know "what he really meant". most importantly, he apologized.

and is palin even complaining about the stewardess joke? if she doesn't why should i? maybe she thought it was a compliment.

and i noticed something else. at the huffington post, a commenter wrote:

"But why is it that when VP Joe Biden makes a gaffe he is not called a "moron, bitch, stewardess, clueless, or idiot?""

and i wonder how this person came to that conclusion.
Letterman got a ton of mileage out of the John McCain episode, and I guess he thought that the same M.O. would work with Palin. It's not gonna work; she's lovin' every minute of it. Just when you think that shrill Half-Baked Alaskan idiot is gone, someone gives her an excuse to get more media face time. If I were Dave Letterman, I'd just let it go now. Escalating is gonna be problematic.
Talk about disgusting? Using your child - no matter their age - to keep yourself in the public eye. The Palin's completely took the JOKE out of context because they could and inserted their own filth into it. They are the sick ones.

It was a joke and we all get it. The "child" - 18 year old Bristol - is off limits? Why? Her mother parades her around on every show she can. Welcome to it, sweetheart, you're now a public figure.

How sad for David Letterman, the man - not the comedian - to have to apologize for something so unthinkable as this. That he somehow said her 14 year old was raped - which was CLEARLY not the intent. This man has a child of his own.
Letterman made a joke that was funny but in poor taste. Letterman apologized. Now we get the part where everybody is shrieking and wringing their hands because the apology wasn't quite exactly enough.

I'm guessing he apologized for the misconstruction of his joke because that's what some staffer came back and told him he was getting flak about.

Anyhow, I'm off to make a list of every late-night comic who ever made a lewd remark about Monica Lewinsky, so I may be busy for a while.
You know, this is actually the first time I found out what Letterman said. There have been so many Internet headlines about it this week (like it was important!) and I have ignored them.

I thought that Sarah Palin's hubris had moved beyond the pale when I saw that she was continuing to bash Letterman in a week when a security guard at the Holocaust Museum was murdered by a racist anti-Semitic hatemonger. And we should care about what a comedian said in a joke? As you say, he is a COMEDIAN - sometimes the jokes work and sometimes they don't.

But this is a joke about A-Rod for God's sake! It's a trivial joke. I hope Letterman and others call a halt to the Palin jokes for one reason alone - to keep her name and face away from us. Don't go away mad, Sarah, just go away.
I have to follow up my comment now that I've finished reading the others. Uh, are you people for real? Turn down the heat! I'm a feminist with a teenage daughter and a sense of humor. I expect that late-night comedians who are on 5 nights a week will miss the mark and offend me sometimes - I consider that a lesser insult than failing to make me laugh.

I guess people enjoy being angry. I'd suggest watching a comedy show to chill out except that's what started this.
I don't think Palin was out to keep herself in the public eye. I think someone attacked her family and she went after them. Who here wouldn't?

If Letterman would have come out and said I'm sorry and explain that the joke he told about a 14 year old was wrong. That his writers wrote it and he didn't see the clip and he assumed they were right with Bristol being at the game, this story would have been over in one or two days.

Now it will live forever.
I'm with you and Jeanette D on this. People may not like Dave, but I do. He's self-effacing and can criticize and laugh at himself. Sarah Palin takes herself much too seriously, and never apologized for putting Obama's life in danger with her crazy rallies. Letterman may have been wrong to talk about her daughters, but it's not worth all this uproar. The whole bunch of them were making complete and utter fools of themselves long before DL came along.
Palin: the Republican party's customer-service rep. cum loose cannon. She 'aint worth it, folks. Poster parent for: "GUESS WHO FORGOT TO MIND THE STORE?" parenting style. Drill, baby, drill.
This is such a non issue I can't believe I am commenting on it.
J.E. - You have started a great debate about what is and what isn't appropriate in today’s world of humor.

But I have a question: "When did the word: knocked up, suggest - RAPE?" So, many who comment on Dave's joke take it in that direction?

As for the Palins - They presented their children in the past campaign everywhere they went. They paraded Bristol & Levy, as a young couple who were accepting their circumstance of pregnancy and how all unwed couples should. There were few frames of video of the Palin Family without little Piper beaming at the camera, nor a picture of little Trig being carried about the campaign trail.

Now the Palins want the media to give them all privacy... yet the Palins continue to be on the cover of Celebrity type magazines, on talk show programs - all to keep themselves in the media lights.

You can't have it both ways Palins!

The more I read about Sarah Palin the more I think she is downright crazy. rated
What happened to freedom of speech?

What Letterman said may have been in poor taste but, he's a comedian. And to my knowledge, we haven't heard a word from A-
Rod about it. If I were him, I wouldn't want my name in the same breath as a Palin.

Sarah Palin loves to be in the limelight and expose her family at every opportunity. Plus she tried to make having a baby out of wedlock seem OK all the while covering it in every magazine.

Probably not a good joke but, that's Dave!

Knocked up becomes rape when an adult male has sex with a 14 year old girl. It doesn't matter how or why it happened, it's still rape.
Excellent post and I couldn't agree with you more! She makes me so angry with all of her accusations and lying. The right wingnuts make me even more angry for not being able to see through her "bullshit." Her exploitation of Bristol and the rest of her kids is hurting her children more than anyone else I've seen. For goodness sake, Bristol is even on top cover of a "People's Magazine" issue along with her new baby. She looks beautiful, joyful, peaceful and glamorous. What is THAT telling young girls across the nation?!
Talk about exploitation!!
I don't know, politics has always been one step from the pikes.
Poor taste, but you should see what Jefferson and Adams had said about each other. But poor taste, and to be fair to Palin, Letterman was the one who put her in the spotlight, not her.
Which is one more thing.
Why this hatred or love for her?
I don't get it; she seems milk toast to me, lukewarm feeling is inspired, not this over the top hatred or adoration.
I haven't watched Letterman much in the past few years. But the Dave of the past was waaaaay worse and the people he skewered were sitting right next to him. It's nothing new really. I expect to see Bristol and the baby daddy on Jerry Springer any day now.
Rated for going at such a complicated issue, one that I agree should never have become so - plenty of more important things happened this week. Palin has basically become our crazy attention-starved second cousin from caribou country, and should we Americans really be as irritated as we are whenever she cries foul post election defeat?

That said, the blame appears to be pretty evenly divided among Palin and Todd (desperate to remain on the national stage), Letterman and his writers for being themselves (carelessly crass), and the media-citizenry complex for at once feeding Palin's righteously defensive "mama bear"-ishness (she clearly sees herself and her family as victims) and letting misogyny-for-comedy's-sake slide until a celebrity "victim" tries to claw out her attacker's eyes. Too bad she's already been declawed by her own moronic antics on the national stage.

If only Hillary, who is far more respected even by those who despise her, had been as vicious toward Limbaugh. Then again, in that case this conversation would have been all over conservative talk radio, and Hillary would be the shrill liar.
In my opinion if David Letterman had told such vile jokes about one of Obama's daughters he would have been quartered and skewered! His jokes were in poor tast and he does need to apologize to Willow Palin. If I were Sarah Palin I would have went after his scrotum for saying such a vulgar thing about my 14 year old daughter. Even if he was talking about her 18 year old daughter would that make it right, she's still a child? Think about someone saying vulgar comments about your children then come back and say it was alright........nope I didn't think so!
I've never once heard anyone refer to his son as a bastard or his wife a whore for having a child out of this only a game that liberals are allowed to play?
The remark about Sarah Palin looking like a hot-slut flight attendant should have bothered every woman in this country! When Michelle Obama went out in London looking like she just stepped out of the hood in Chicago, no one mentioned that....again is this a liberal game....I'm not playing if it is!
Csalyer1962, it seems you're more upset that a family member of a conservative politician was insulted than you are about the principle itself. I will not dignify your thinly veiled race reference regarding the First Lady, or your clear anti-liberal feelings (which are not at all relevant to this discussion), but I will remind you of some extremely degrading comments made by conservatives that conservatives seem totally unfazed by:

John McCain insulted not only an adolescent Chelsea Clinton's appearance, but also included a sexist jibe at her mother and at then attorney general Janet Reno (three sexist degrading jokes in one lewd sexual reference). McCain apologized, and the Washington Post, which noted his apology, refused to print the joke itself, saying it was "too vicious to print". To this day, there is a bizarre alternate-universe brand of conservative spin that claims this 1) never happened or that 2) McCain was totally within his rights.

Earlier this year, there was a little dust-up over Bill O'Reilly calling the venerable Helen Thomas, perhaps the most legendary White House reporter in history, a "witch". He defended himself against claims of sexism by saying he only called her "Wicked Witch of the East".

In order to demean Hillary Clinton, as a woman, a wife, and a politician, a company began selling the Hillary Clinton nutcracker, which is not only in the meaning of the joke, but also in the physical appearance and the functionality of the doll, extremely sexist, lewd and even suggestive of violent acts. Instead of decrying that as sexist or out of bounds or a violation of women across the country, conservative media outlets and political organizations openly promoted its sale!

The number of aggressively violent things that have been said about Hillary Clinton by conservatives, which are not only demeaning but actually border on pathological obsessions with cruelty, are too numerous and too serious a topic to go into here. Why do we not hear prominent "feminist conservatives" and "values conservatives" up in arms about attacking a patriotic wife and mother?

This is not a "liberal game"; it's a bait and switch double-standard where a specific type of conservative claims the right to say anything about anyone no matter how defamatory or cruel, then cries bloody murder when someone says something offensive about one of their own. Letterman was over the line, but it does matter if he was joking about the older daughter, though only because Sarah and Todd Palin charged him with joking about "statutory rape". Letterman has apologized, but she's calling for his head on a pike.

Conservatives who are using this as an opportunity to express bloodlust should take a look in the mirror; the rest of the population is tired of hearing this kind of insulting, degrading, humorless drivel from celebrated media figures that call themselves conservatives and have loyal audiences who do as well.

It is not justifiable to go from complaining about a joke to bloodlust, calls for violence, and wildly false accusations. We expect our political figures to tell the truth, or is that just "liberals" who think that way?
Jay Leno told a similar joke about Bristol Palin and John Edwards in September ’08, according to Huffington Post; I didn't watch Leno, so I can't swear that it's true, but I'm going to trust HuffPo on this. Is Palin being choosy about who can and can't tell jokes about her kids? Did it matter that one joke came before the election, the other after?

Now, had either guy told a similar joke about my kid, I'd be after them, too. At some point we need to figure out how to leave kids out of the political equation.
We will see how the left likes the jokes about the Obama family when the comedians turn on them....and remember....they will because those who build you up....will enjoy tearing you down...
TS, you may be right. They may turn on the Obamas, and if they went after the kids, I think everyone would be rightly upset. I don't think you've heard "the left" justifying going after Sarah Palin's kids, but there is a fundamental difference between Barack Obama and Sarah Palin: Obama pledged never to make personal attacks, and he has stuck by that, throughout the heated primaries and general election, and as president. Sarah Palin never made such a pledge and she has relentlessly attacked other people in public life, often with false charges.

She still has not made a formal apology in national media for the rallies last year, where she openly suggested Obama was a terrorist and a foreigner who hates America, and where her words led to people chanting back at her "kill him". Those incidents were played over and over in the media, and she repeatedly refused to even recognize the problem or moderate her discourse, despite the fact that her attacks were abject lies.

That doesn't mean anyone should "go after" her children, no one is saying that, but it is a reference for why some in the media seem to feel they don't have to treat her, Sarah Palin, with kid gloves. We can try to disqualify David Letterman and call him sexist and smear him, to make ourselves feel better, but we have to be honest and look at the ugliness of this, including the timing.

In a week where plots to kill the president were broken up and one deranged gunman killed a security guard at the Holocaust museum, FOX News' Shepard Smith warned that e-mail coming into the network had "become more and more frightening" recently, saying that on Wednesday alone, he "could read a hundred” emails, full of “hate that’s not based in fact". Smith specifically noted that some of the false rumors driving this wave of hate include the accusation that Obama is not a "natural born American".

In that same week, Sarah Palin, a mother rightly offended by flippant remarks about her daughter, takes to the airwaves to blame "Hollywood and New York" for a degenerate culture that degrades children, and accuses a comedian of statutory rape on national television. She might take a look in the mirror and ask herself to what extent she served to spread the virus of malicious lies about Pres. Obama and what role she might have had in the provocation of the degenerate extremists in her own segment of the political spectrum.

We can assume she is not actually given to violent hate; we can assume she did not mean to spur a wave of violent hateful reactions, based on lies; we can assume she did not intent to establish a precedent whereby the RNC openly seeks to promote falsehoods about the president in order to sow fear and hate about him... but if she really thinks all of that is bad, she might apologize for the role she played in fanning the flames.
re: Deborah Young & "You can make excuses all you want but it's still just misogyny. David Letterman is an old, stupid, untalented idiot and still, nobody reduces who he is to his genitals."

"Dick" has become one of the most common pejoratives in the language. "Prick" has been forever. I'm sure one or the other has even been applied to Letterman himself somewhere, sometime, by someone. Women are not the only gender reduced to genitalia for the sake of insult. Dick is far less controversial and more commonly used than the female equivalent.

(Though I don't know how slutty make-up or her daughter as the object of a baseball player's philandering equates with genitalia.)

Women are not more sacred, precious, delicate and fragile than men and we don't need to be treated with all kinds of exceptional care and deference. That whole pedestal thing is anti-equality.

As is so common lately, Palin exaggerated and enhanced her female identity and flaunted her family as political tools in a grossly cynical way. It's all fair game.

Cleavage is a fashion accessory and tight clothing and stiletto heels the norm, even among "feminists" (like Sara Palin?). If you (you, me, SP, any individual or group) make your secondary sexual characteristics the major focus of your appearance, it's fair game. Remember the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco and the comedic field day over GW's enhanced "package" in the flight suit? Fair game. And directly genitalia focused, unlike the barbs directed at SP.

And much as I hate myself for chiming in on the stupid daughter aspect of this stupid, meaningless issue, don't you think it's possible he wasn't referring to any specific Palin daughter but just the generic political prop she made of her whole family & and one daughter's pregnancy?

(And Letterman is both very funny and not that old. I've watched since he had a morning show and I can say for sure that reverence for anything has never been any part of his public persona.)

I can't believe the amount of time and energy wasted on this bullshit.

I've never heard Palin calls for violence, or make "wildly false accusations". What were they?

If Letterman would have made the joke about Bristol it would have been just a bad taste joke. The fact it was there 14 year old, makes it over the top.

You say she want's his head on a pike. What makes this different than the bad joke, and I wouldn't have told either, that Imus told? Isn't the fate of one good for the other?

How right you are!
And yet, jokes like those favored by Sen. John McCain get very little notice... including those that include very young first daughters.

My understanding is that Letterman did apologize and regretted telling the joke... confusion about which daughter notwithstanding.

As for the Obamas, the prez actually used his own daughters in a joke he told himself, complaining about their use of AF One for a joy ride. (after that photo op in Manhattan) So, he may end up setting the precedent himself.
I would like to see Letterman explain to TODD Pallin , in person of course, exactly what he meant when he joked as he did.
I suspect Dave's gap would be the least of his dental flaws afterword.
If you were the father of that child, what would be your response, given an opportunity to talk to Letterman face to face?
It was crude, offensive and out of line. Having said that, I'm guilty of still chuckling when I hear it.

A month from now few will remember much except "Letterman joked about A-Rod raping Pallins daughter" wait and see.
Time to use the "C" word.