I am making an educated assumption that most everyone has atleast heard about and may have followed to some degree the public battle between late night TV kingpin David Letterman and former Vice Presidential candidate and current Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. In a nutshell, he made some jokes at her expense that were of questionable taste and she called him out on it. Then the drive-by media started chiming in and the whole thing got completely out of control. Letterman kind of apologized and the masses seem eager to move on to the next meaningless controversy. However, to paraphrase John Belushi’s Animal House alter ego Bluto Blutarski…..”Over?? It’s not over til I say it’s over!!”.
I need to preface my opinions by first of all sharing my feelings about the parties involved.
Governor Palin was a shining light in an otherwise mundane election last year. As a conservative I was excited to have her on the ticket, and was outraged at the public dismantling of her character. Was…is…she ready for prime time?? Maybe…maybe not. But she isn’t any more unproven than the embarrassment that was ultimately elected. He was just a bit more smooth and polished. And he had other things going for him. I’ll let you interpret that any way you wish. Anyway, I look forward to Governor Palin’s future. If she plays her cards right I sincerely believe she has a legitimate opportunity to become the first female President of the United States in 2016 (I don’t think the current President will flop bad enough, atleast in the view of the mindless adherents to liberalism that elected him in the first place, to lose in 2012).
I’m a night owl and a fan of late night television and therefore a Letterman fan. I don’t put him on quite the pedestal that some others do…..I don’t think he’s that much better than Leno or Conan or Jimmy Kimmel or Craig Ferguson or Jimmy Fallon. The Top 10 is obviously his calling card, but more than that it’s his goofy and irreverent style. Dave used to do things like drop objects off the top of buildings, crush stuff with a streamroller, and elevator races. My favorite Dave bit was when he drove around Los Angeles in a convertible filled with 1000 tacos. He has incorporated many “real” people into his show…..people like stage manager Biff Henderson, Mujibur and Sirajul (who owned a little shop next door to the Late Show theater), Larry “Bud” Melman (aka Calvert DeForrest), Meg Parsons (the girl who worked across the street at Simon & Schuster), and of course Dave’s Mom Dorothy. But something inside Letterman seemed to change after his heart surgery in 2000 and then the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks. He has become increasingly political, and his bitterness and cynicism is often palpable. He’s still fun, but he’s not the same guy he was 10 years ago.
As far as the current situation, what happened is that Letterman quipped about Sarah Palin’s “slutty flight attendant look”, and worse, told a joke involving Palin’s daughter being “knocked up” by Alex Rodriguez during a Yankee game. This has caused a firestorm that has raged several days longer than I ever thought possible. Predictably the drive-by liberal media has leaped to Dave’s defense, while those who are unhappy with our coarsening culture and “anything goes” society have grabbed onto the issue like a dog with a bone. Palin, who had slipped back into relative irrelevancy after the 2008 election, is either truly angered by the comments made about her and her family, or is seizing an opportunity for some face time. What one believes probably depends on what hole you punched last November. Letterman is trying to play the “I’m just a dumb guy who tells jokes” card, but no one is really buying his naivete. He’s nothing if not shrewd.
So is it much ado about nothing or is it a perfect example of why our nation is heading to Hell in a handbasket?? I’m honestly not trying to hedge my bets, but I tend to believe it’s a little of both. Letterman obviously leans left and would never have told a similar joke about a Democrat (if so he’d have been hung out to dry by the drive-by media). But I’m quite certain he never, in his wildest dreams, thought those jokes would cause such a commotion. He has done and said things just as tasteless without a ripple of reaction. I tend to believe that Governor Palin’s indignation is genuine. However, I do think she needs to be cautious. She wants to make a run for The White House someday, and taking this issue too far may have long term negative repercussions.
The bottom line is this…..what offends you may not offend me, and vice versa. Do I think our society has sunk into a moral abyss?? Yes, I do. There are many reasons for this, chief among them the dogged determination by some to eliminate God from everything coupled with a lethargic malaise by Christians who have far too long lain down and let it happen. But I also believe that we walk a very thin line. We must choose our battles wisely. Getting ourselves into a self-righteous lather over every single thing tends to cause a backlash. I am reminded of the classic children’s fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Complaining and protesting too much elicits a dismissive reaction from the opposition, and more importantly sways those who are sitting on the fence to the other side.
Was what David Letterman said wrong?? Yes. I do think that part of the debate that has been overlooked is the fact that his joke more than likely was meant to refer to Palin’s 18 year old daughter Bristol, who famously did become pregnant out-of-wedlock just as her mother was coming into the spotlight, but that the daughter who was actually with the Palins at that Yankee game was 14 year old Willow. It was a huge mistake by Letterman and his writers. Of course the jokes were in bad taste either way, but the clarification of which daughter was the target has a lot to do with the strong reaction. The acceptance by most of this type of borderline vulgarity is a topic we could spend hours debating. What society deems as okay in 2009, whether it be on television or any other facet of life, is far different than it used to be. Some of the things one sees or hears on TV or in movies or just at the office are shocking in comparison to what we deemed suitable just a decade or two ago. That’s a problem that is, unfortunately, too big for me to tackle all by my lonesome. What I (and each of you as well) can do though is live life in as Godly and Christ-like a fashion as possible. It’s surely easier said than done, but that’s no excuse not to make the effort. We can’t solve all the world’s problems on our own, but we can attempt as best we can to be shining examples of The Creator who made us in His image, the Savior who paid the price for our sins, and the Holy Spirit that should dwell within us.
As for Letterman and Palin, life goes on. He will continue to have a successful show that people will watch and be entertained by (including me), and Governor Palin will move forward with her political career and I for one will be interested to see where it goes. It’s time to put all this in the past.