In Defense of Sarah Palin, Kind of...

By Harry Shearer

It ill behooves a humorist to take a public position on another comic's jokes, so I'll just say that people, like Chris Matthews, who abjure Letterman's "knocked up" joke on grounds that the language is unacceptably rough must have missed the fact that a major movie studio released a picture by that very title to wide public support.  


But, as to Sarah Palin's response: I'm gratified to see one politician who sees fit to avoid the current fad of pretending to have a sense of humor.   Who hasn't gagged as Senators and other supposed dignitaries have trooped onto the stages of Dave, Jay, Conan, Jon, Steve, and SNL to demonstrate their "good to have a beer with" credentials?  I will never forget being on Bill Maher's old "Politically Incorrect" when Sen. Orrin Hatch showed up with a memorized sheaf of witticisms cranked out by his staff, and delivered each one the way the morning paper is delivered: with a plop, usually ending up wet.  Like other pols on the same mission, Sen. Hatch made only two mistakes: he had his jokes crafted by political, rather than comedy, professionals, and he uttered them with all the comic timing of a C-SPAN speech. 

Governor Palin, on the other hand, stood proud as someone incensed by joking.  I for one think our politicians should have an adversarial relationship with humor, and vice versa.  That's healthy for the country.

I'm also glad to see Governor Palin attacking Dave's japes for contributing to a serious problem; "no wonder young women have such low self-esteem", she said of joking about sexual indiscretions with minors.  I therefore anticipate with great eagerness the governor's next assault against a social force that causes young women to have low self-esteem, namely, the numberless pageants where, from age 4 upwards, such women are persuaded by their parents and other elders into tarting up and parading in states of garish overdress and unbecoming undrerdress before judges I'd trust around young women a lot less than Dave.

Carrie Prejean, for example, gained  a national platform for her views purely because such eminences judged her most toothsome in a bathing suit.  I'm sure Governor Palin recognizes the damage that does to the self-image of young women who aspire to be acknowledged for what they know or what they can do, not how well they can pad out the top of a swimsuit.  

Oh, wait.  

Never mind.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/06/in-defense-of-sarah-palin-kind-of/19308/