The week-long scuffle between Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and late-night comedian David Letterman has given many on the political right something they've lacked in recent months - a tasty target.
By cracking wise with references to Palin's "slutty flight attendant look" and her imaginary need to keep her daughter away from Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, the "Late Show" host set off a significant political tempest.
Experts and observers of politics and the media see two larger expediencies present: the funnyman's need to break through the late-night giggle chamber, particularly with Conan O'Brien's new gig on "The Tonight Show," and conservatives' need to find a foil.
It's interesting how this is framed. Letterman is a target for the right only. He's a target because the right needs a "foil". In other words, what David Letterman said isn't necessarily obscene and offensive, but it's obscene and offensive to the right. Furthermore, folks on my side of the ideological isle are only upset because we are looking for a foil.
It appears that's how far we have come in the coarsening of our society. A comedian makes several obscene jokes in which he blatantly objectifies a politicians, sexualizes her teen age daughter, and even alludes to child rape and only folks of a certain political ideology are upset. Even then, they are only upset for their own cynical political reasons.
It appears that being upset simply because what Letterman did was so far over the line that any normal human being should be offended is not enough. This, like everything else, must take on a political angle.
I give Politico credit at least for even covering the controversy. As Bill O'Reilly pointed out last night on the Factor, almost the entire print media has ignored the story. So, it appears that a major celebrity figure making lewd jokes on national television about a major politician can be ignored if that politician happens to have the wrong set of political beliefs.
Of course, when the MSM has covered it, they couldn't wait to turn it into an attack on Palin. This video is a great example of that. (H/T to Hot Air)
Way back when, I pointed out that Governor Palin had been thrust into the middle of culture war. That is playing out once again in this story. She's attacked by the secular progressive Dave Letterman. She is defended by the traditionalists in the media. The secular progressive MSM meanwhile ignores the story. Worse than that, as I mentioned in my earlier piece, Palin has been thrust into the middle of this culture war and it's a role she neither asked for or was seeking.
It's simple and disturbing. She's a prominent female politician who is also unabashedly pro life. So much so is she pro life, that she decided to keep her child even after she found out he had down syndrome. This caused feminists to attack her because they've made pro choice the center piece of the feminist movement. It caused pro life folks to defend her because they were her ideological compatriots. She never asked to be thrust in the middle of this ideological war. It was thrust upon her.
The whole Letterman controversy is an extension of this. NOW has thankfully come out in support of Palin and condemned Letterman. As far as prominent feminists, that's it. Just think about that. Governor Palin was objectified, her daughters were objectified, and Letterman even suggested child rape. Yet, this isn't enough to get most feminists to mobilize and demand an apology. Had a liberal woman been treated this way you can bet they'd all be screaming. Of course, had this been a liberal woman, Letterman wouldn't have made the joke to begin with. So far has our political discourse been coarsened that gratuitous objectification is all right as long as you pick the right target. So it is with our culture wars. The problem with all of this is simple. What Letterman said is totally objectionable and way out of bounds. If it were condemned by all, our society would set a limit as far as how far we can go being lewd, mysoginistic, and inappropriate. Because this whole controversy has become political, it clouds the idea that what he said cannot be tolerated.