13 June 2009

Sarah Palin Takes On...

Sarah Palin is blasting away at the Universe these days. Or maybe she's just exploding at the Universe of TV folks who are bigger than her.
Remember when she was first announced as the chosen running mate of GOP Presidential Candidate John McCain? There was much excitement and hope. She came from obscurity and was initially believed to be The Answer to Barack Obama, whose historic set of "firsts" was steamrollering everything in its path.
Then she took a few interviews.
We saw Charlie Gibson talk down to her. We witnessed Katie Couric's mortifying little set down. If we missed it on the evening news, it was replayed on Saturday Night Live with one of the more wickedly funny playbacks in excruciatingly exact detail ever witnessed. The sadly funny part was that the playback was almost completely unaltered. It was both painful and hilarious. And very, very strange. And we watched as events unfolded from losing the race to her daughter's metamorphosis to unwed mother. It hasn't been good. There are worlds of "what might have beens" for the former beauty queen-cum-governor of Alaska.
Recently, Mr. and Mrs. Todd Palin took their little family to New York and directly to the center of a media storm. Or more accurately a tempest in a teacup, but a messy little tempest at that.
Sarah Palin still believes, somewhere in her heart of hearts, that she can be the President of the United States. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Las Vegas oddsmakers would put her at the very longest of long shots. But this belief has her still making public appearances, offering opinions and generally baring her neck before the blood-thirsty media.
David Letterman took the bait. With deadly, dark comic aplomb, he quipped,
"There was one awkward moment during the seventh inning stretch. Her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."
Palin took immediate offense and assumed that the comment was aimed at her middle daughter, Willow. Whereupon Mr. Letterman clarified, stating that no, he was referring to the other, older daughter, Bristol. Here's his statement:

"I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl."
He also conceded that his was a joke of "desperation." But he didn't apologize. Why? Because he's a comedian. He's not a newsmaker. Not a public official. Not a news person. He is a comic who makes jokes for a living. And sometimes, they land a little off-base. Or in this case, a little off-color or in fact, a bit too dark for comfort. But you don't expect cats to come when called, drug addicts to eat healthy, or late night comics to say they're sorry when they are soaking up the media spotlight during a crucial moment when they need the attention to settle an old score with arch-nemesis Conan O'Brien.
Mrs. Palin shouldn't wait around for apologies. She probably shouldn't let herself get involved in mudslinging with people who have bigger, more established pulpits and are known for going for the laughs. She doesn't have a regular microphone to cry foul into and she won't get it by crying foul over some late night comic's lines.
Or a morning talk show host's questions. Gov. Palin was interviewed a few days later on NBC's Today Show and when Matt Lauer quite reasonably asked her about Letterman's explanation, she wasn't gracious. In fact, she then came at Matt,
"OK Matt I would say that you and anybody else are extremely naive to believe that very convenient excuse of David Letterman's. It took him a couple of days to think of that excuse and 'Uhhh... No, he wasn't talking about my daughter that was there with me at the game, the 14 year-old. He was talking about some other daughter.' Well I think it was a weak excuse and regardless it was a degrading comment about a young woman and I would hope that people would rise up and decide it's not acceptable."
Wow. She just called the host naive on his own show?
I can understand Mrs. Palin defending her child and family. I think we all understand that. But she just killed the messenger. And in doing so, she killed her own message.
You can't wonder why the Republican party doesn't always succeed when their most visible members attack those who they should make friends with. These are not examples of "media bias." They are examples of a comic doing what a comic does, and a member of the media doig what they do: asking Mrs. Palin for her reaction. It was her own reactions that did any damage.
Mrs. Palin needs to consider that maybe she's had her 15 minutes in the spotlight. It may well be that those few minutes are all she ever gets but that book isn't written yet. What would be wise is to let the bruises heal. Let the swelling go down. Go back to Alaska and attend to business. Raise your kids. Stop making these public appearances until you've had some serious media training and stopped being such an anger management hot spot for your handlers.
You don't need to be Madame President in your 40's. You can wait, calm down, learn to manage your media and learn to pick on people your own size. In your case, older may be wiser.
Of course, purely in the interest of being obtuse along with late night laughs and morning show guffaws, we can always hope not.

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