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Critic at Large: Whatever you think of Palin, Letterman was out of line

Critic at Large: Whatever you think of Palin, Letterman was out of line

I don’t think much of Sarah Palin as presidential timber, but if you hired me to write a speech prai

I don’t think much of Sarah Palin as presidential timber, but if you hired me to write a speech praising her virtues (it would have to be a considerable sum), I am sure I could compose what my mother would call a doozy.

Maybe compare her to Joan of Arc or the Virgin Mary. Sarah Palin: a saint in armor maligned by the dark knights of the leftist press. Little Sarah, brave enough not to shed her country-girl accent, the feisty farm girl, the loving mom — willing and eager to rise each morning to milk the family cow.

You go, girl.

Go ahead. Hire me to compose a diatribe sinking fangs into the jugular of Nancy Pelosi. It would commence with a reminder that little Nancy was a privileged sorority girl, driven to school each day in the family limousine. Spoiled girl who always gets what she wants. Look at her scowl.

Blah, blah, blah.

I am not sympathetic to either of these views, even if they isolate facts. What caught my attention and got me going is the attention paid to the controversy stirred up after a David Letterman monologue in which he reported in mock fashion that on her visit to New York, Palin bought makeup at Bloomingdale’s “to update her slutty flight attendant look,” and that later she went to a Yankee game accompanied by her teenage daughter, who, during the seventh inning stretch, “was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”

Comments offensive

I found these declarations to be offensive, and whether you consider yourself liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, I hope you agree.

First of all, Letterman’s excuse that he was referring not to Palin’s 14-year-old, Willow, but to her 18-year-old daughter Bristol is no excuse at all.

Come on. Even though Bristol conceived out of wedlock, she is still a kid. Leave her alone. If we can’t muster enough evidence to attack a candidate’s record, we should reconsider the validity of our own views.

The standard here is to think of Bristol as our own child who did not ask to be a public figure. Ridiculing her violates an elementary standard of decency ignored, if not trampled on, by Letterman and his writers. And yet, there’s more to the Letterman-Palin controversy. Something even more troubling.

Frat-House humor

As Amanda Fortin notes in Salon, it’s an example of “frat-house” media, a standard that permits and beckons boys and men to regard women as chattel and nagging bitches. I have to laugh at the hypocrisy often attending this judgment. The other day I overheard a group of guys loudly ridiculing the portly shape of a woman sitting at an adjacent table.

“Look at her butt,” a goon declared as his friends guffawed their approval. The guys apparently failed to note the speaker’s gut hanging over his extended belt, a sight that might repel his mother. It is not an uncommon sight. Often, these judges of feminine pulchritude could not catch a girl, even if they had nets large enough to corral a whale.

Yet, these summary assessments thrive in the work place, at bars and in lounges by men who would be fighting mad or deeply hurt if the objects of ridicule were their daughters.

Even if you are a Letterman fan, we all must acknowledge that with his frat-boy declaration, he stepped in it big time. He also gave Palin an opportunity to present herself as a champion of feminine dignity.

Wow! Sarah Palin and Gloria Steinem. What a team.

Reach Film Critic Dan DiNicola at [email protected]

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