I like David Letterman. I think he's funny, witty and very quick on his feet. He has been a late night staple, even though he consistently ran behind Jay Leno for years. But recently, he not only stepped way over the line with his disgraceful comments about Sarah Palin and her daughter, but one must begin to wonder if Letterman has totally lost touch with what's funny and what his role is as a comedian and as an entertainer in American culture.
If you hadn't heard, Letterman called Sarah Palin a "slutty flight attendant." Ok, not very funny. I'm convinced he wouldn't say anything like this about Michelle Obama or any prominent Democratic women on the political landscape. But it was Letterman's comments about Palin's family during their trip to New York recently that really deserved universal condemnation.
In his typical smart-ass fashion, Letterman said that Palin's daughter got "knocked up" by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez during the 7th inning of a baseball game. But that wasn't bad enough. Letterman didn't have the awareness and sensitivity that he was going down a very destructive and dangerous path. Letterman added that the hardest part of the Palins' visit to New York was keeping former Governor Eliot Spitzer away from Palin's daughter.
Here's the kicker— the only daughter who was on the Palins' New York trip was fourteen-year-old Willow. Can you imagine what was in Letterman's (or his writers) mind to think that making any reference to a fourteen-year-old innocent girl in such a disgraceful fashion was a funny thing to do? Letterman tried to clear things up by saying he wasn't actually talking about Willow, but rather eighteen-year-old Bristol Palin.
Has Letterman gone nuts? He's talking about sexual relations between a child and a grown man, in the case of Willow. That's statutory rape. And as for saying he was referring to her sister who is 4 years older, that doesn't make it any better. Either way, Letterman should have realized how horrible his comments were, and apologized immediately without any attempt to clarify or explain.
As bad as his comments were, what's even more troublesome is that in my wildest dreams, I can't imagine David Letterman ever making such disgusting comments involving the two daughters of President Barack Obama. Now even though the Obama daughters are younger, just imagine that they were in fact 14 and 18. Do you really think Letterman would say such a thing? No way. And that's what makes his comments about Sarah Palin's family so disgusting— somehow, it's become fair game to make any sexual or crude comment not just about Sarah Palin, but about her daughters. I mean, what is that?
I don't care what David Letterman's politics may be. I voted for Barack Obama, and I am no fan of Sarah Palin and her policies. But that has nothing to do with the fact that the children of political candidates and public officials should be absolutely off-limits, especially when they are so young— particularly when it's a middle-aged guy like Letterman making comments about a young, innocent girl having sex with grown men!
Every decent-thinking American, regardless of their political ideology, should roundly condemn "funny man" David Letterman for his comments, and should deluge CBS with their outrage. (Full disclosure—
I appear as a regular guest doing political analysis on the CBS affiliate in NY). Anything less will send the wrong message, and allow Letterman and anyone else who thinks that the Palin daughters, or the children of any prominent political figures, are fair game to be degraded in public.
Shame on you, Dave. Your fans, me included, deserve a lot better from you. The Palins deserve a lot better as well.