So David Letterman made a joke a few days ago about the Palin family attending a Yankees game and Alex Rodriguez impregnating one of Sarah's daughters. Sarah Palin immediately fired back, pointing out that the only daughter at the game was the 14-year old, Willow, and so Letterman was joking about "the statutory rape of my daughter".
And if he were joking about statutory rape, I'd actually share her indignance. But he wasn't - to all but the least discerning of people, it should be clear that he was making a joke about the older daughter, Bristol, who is already a teenager mother. (And given that Bristol's out-of-wedlock baby problematizes Sarah Palin's 'family values' schtick, also taking an indirect shot at Sarah.)
What amazes me about the entire exchange, though, are these three things:
1. The number of people (dozens, hundreds) who have the basic intelligence necessary to blog but are nonetheless convinced that a) Letterman actually knew which daughter(s) were present at the game, and b) that he would knowingly make a sex joke about a 14-year old. Sarah Palin herself called Matt Lauer "naive" for suggesting that Letterman was making a joke about Bristol (because Bristol has never been the butt of a joke, right?). When Lauer asked whether, in a press release, she was sincerely suggesting that Letterman couldn't be trusted around a teenaged girl (it's implied - and I'm willing to give Palin's people some credit and call it a joke, but a bad one - that he's a pedophile) she stumbled through her response and couldn't actually bring herself to tease out what was being implied. Because, at best, she's being completely disingenuous. At worst, she's being totally malicious.
2. Ironically, in refusing to admit the possibility that Letterman was making a joke at Bristol's expense, Palin actually endorses Dave's intended joke and its implied meaning - that, to put it plainly, Bristol is a slut. Palin has made it clear that she will rain down on Dave with hellfire for insulting her family and women in general, so one has to wonder why she uses no fraction of her outrage in support of Bristol. It's as if mom thinks that only one of her daughters is actually deserving of a defense - hence the title of this blog, because only a monster could behave that way.
3. No one seems to care that at least half of Letterman's joke was directed at A-Rod. In fact, if Palin is right, then the entire joke was at A-Rod's expense. That said, we should point out that the reason a joke about A-Rod impregnating anyone is at all funny is because he's infamous for being something of a (purported? confirmed? i don't follow him closely enough) serial adulterer. That level works if the joke is about Bristol but not if it's about Willow. If it's about Willow, then suddenly the joke is about A-Rod being a pedophile, an accusation that's never been raised against him. It seems to escape Palin entirely that her favored interpretation of the joke casts A-Rod as a pedophile, and that this is equally problematic. That she hasn't addressed this element of the joke whatsoever is probably worth thinking about - and I'd suggest that it's also an implicit endorsement of it. (One has to wonder whether A-Rod's ambivalent relationship to his American-ness and his race have some role to play in the ostensible obviousness of the joke's appropriateness, but that would be an entire post in and of itself.)