Usually I don't use this space to mouthe off politcally.
Not that I don't have strong political opinions. I do.
It's just that I don't feel that I usually have much to add to the public forum that hasn't already been said by Keith Olbermann.
But this dust-up between Sarah Palin and David Letterman has left me with thoughts that I've found unexpressed anywhere else that I have found.
I received this mass e-mail from one of my readers. I didn't ask for permission to reprint it, because it wasn't sent only to me personally.
Here are excerpts:
"I enjoy most of David Letterman's humor. Fact is, I generally prefer Letterman over Leno . . .
I think Letterman was way out of bounds on his "jokes" regarding Sarah Palin and her daughter(s). It was poor taste, unnecessary, not at all classy.
Leno would occasionally border on jokes that were a little too risque, but I don't think he'd have ever done something like this.
Leno was, and is a world class performer. Letterman was, and is. Except Letterman really messed up on this imbroglio. Perhaps he'll learn.
.......Letterman goofed and should have made a simple apology instead of turning it into a seven minute desk spot."
Here's how I responded:
"Palin brought all this on by herself by shlepping her knocked-up daughter up onstage at the Convention.
If it were a Democrat with a knocked-up daughter, the Republicans would never let him or her hear the end of it.
Letterman has already apologized several times. What more do we want from him?
Palin implying that he is some kind of child predator is typically way out of line.
But I think Letterman is thriving on the attention.
Very few people like Palin.
One of these people is intelligent, and the other is not."
I now realize that there is more to be said.
I have since watched all the Letterman episodes from the past week, which I had Tivo'd.
Much as I admire and respect Letterman, and think he is totally right in this situation, I think he's acted like a complete wuss.
He has compounded this by issuing an even more humble, serious apology on the show that aired on Monday night. All about how the perception of the joke can sometimes be more important than the joke.
Is this network pressure that we are witnessing?
God, I'd hate to think he'd succumb to something like that.
This seems way off base to me.
If you're accused of making a joke about someone's child being a victim of a child predator, which Letterman did NOT intend to do, not even knowing that the 14 year old was at the ballgame with Palin and Giuliani, and which he said he did NOT do, and which, as he said, anyone who knows him or his show knows he did NOT do, you must be HIGHLY INSULTED.
You don't suck up to that , forgive me, bimbo.
You MUST TAKE UMBRAGE.
Not like the phony umbrage that a political animal like Palin, who knows better, is taking.
Seven minutes of relatively light banter about it is letting her off way too easily.
He should have swatted her like the mosquito she is.
He should have put her in her place, which is somewhere under a rock.
He shouldn't be inviting her on his show so she can turn him down.
He should be issuing a public banning of her from his show.
That's what she deserves, and that's what will help his ratings more than anything else.
You just KNOW that this is how he really feels about it.
But to make yet another public apology?
He has been totally manipulated by someone vastly inferior to him.
I can't for the life of me figure out why.
Where are his cohones?
And why aren't they on display here?
Does he really think his audience is made up of Palin fans?
This one does not compute.
Letterman and Palin have totally different agendas.
Letterman's is to make highly edged sarcastic jokes about everyone in the public eye.
That's his job, and he does it really well.
If he had to apologize every time he offended anyone, he would be doing nothing BUT apologize.
Palin's is to keep herself in the public eye at all costs.
As a political animal, one knows that sincerity takes a back seat to everything.
She can't possibly be as offended as she's making out to be.
Letterman isn't and really can't be a political animal.
It doesn't seem to be part of his genetic makeup.
Bill Clinton and John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer had to do the political dance in public of how they disgraced their families by committing adultery.
You know they'd all like to have said "Yeah, I screwed around. Why is this your business?"
Letterman could have just as easily said "Yeah, I told an offensive joke at your expense, Governor, and your daughter will survive it. It comes with the territory. Get over it."
It has served both of them to keep this story alive.
But Letterman keeping it alive this way is causing me to lose some respect for him.
Dennis Miller (of all people) was once confronted by a member of someone's family.
That someone was treated quite tastelessly in a joke that Miller had told.
And the family member called him on it in a public situation.
Miller thought about it for a moment, and said "You know what? You shouldn't like me."
And that was the end of it.
This family member wasn't a political animal, so there was nothing left to be said.
And that's where it should sit here. Palin, if she was really offended, shouldn't like Letterman.
And that should be the end of it.
And Letterman, if he was really offended, which he should be, shouldn't like Palin, and should have blasted her on his show.
And that should have been the end of it.
If it wasn't, it would have fanned the flames, and be a really great story, instead of the nauseating one it has become.
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."