Yes, Sarah Palin’s annoying, but enough with the abuse


Los Angeles Times

A simple request: Please stop calling Sarah Palin names.

If you find her politics repellant and her intellectual gifts lacking, fine. Just say so. But stop with the verbal abuse and the debased revenge fantasies.

Palin has always had a gift for making her critics crazy. But it’s been five years since she was sprung from Alaskan obscurity as kind of “Hail Mary pass” for John McCain’s faltering presidential dreams.

Liberals: She can’t hurt you anymore. It’s time to get over her.

Her career is about self-enrichment now, not politics.

She’s found a formula for financial success and continuing celebrity. With reality shows, books, speeches and TV commentary, she’s created a Palin family media empire. Yes, she dabbles in political endorsements, helping tea party candidates with mixed success, but having bailed on the Alaska governorship little more than halfway through her first term, it doesn’t appear she will be running for office again anytime soon. She’s basically out of politics.

Still, the former Alaska governor periodically makes waves. There will be an incendiary Facebook post here, an indefensible exaggeration in a speech there or an ignorant remark in an interview. Like any public figure, she can expect her words to be scrutinized and her gaffes to be critiqued. Indeed, she thrives on it.

But when the claws come out for Palin, otherwise enlightened people feel it’s OK to act like clueless sexists. (Hillary Clinton has been, and will be, subjected to the same kind of abuse.)

In a recent speech to the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, she compared America’s indebtedness to China to slavery. “This isn’t racist,” she told the ultra-conservative group, “but it’s gonna be like slavery when that note is due. We are gonna be beholden to a foreign master.” (Good rule of thumb for speechmakers: If you need to declare that a statement you are about to make is not racist, it is probably at minimum racially insensitive. Better to bite your tongue.)

The remark was widely, and fairly, criticized.

But it unleashed something almost pathological in MSNBC host Martin Bashir. On Friday, he called Palin America’s “resident dunce” and a “world-class idiot.” He then suggested she be subjected to the same barbaric abuse of a slave that was recounted in the diary of a plantation overseer who wrote that he forced one slave to urinate and defecate in the mouth of another.

On Monday, Bashir offered an abject apology, saying his comments were “deeply offensive,” “unworthy” and had “brought shame” to his friends and colleagues at MSNBC. “I have learned a sober lesson in these last few days — that the politics of vitriol and destruction is a miserable place to be and a miserable person to become.”

(Fox News reported that Palin canceled a scheduled interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, who was to have visited her in Wasilla, to protest the failure of MSNBC and its corporate parent NBC to take formal action against Bashir.)

Why Bashir is still on the air when fellow MSNBC host Alec Baldwin received a two-week suspension for one of his now-trademark homophobic outbursts is a mystery. Baldwin wasn’t even on the air when he went off on a photographer; he was outside his New York apartment.

On Friday, Cher tweeted a particularly nasty remark about Palin that I won’t bother repeating. Suffice to say, the 67-year-old singer used one of the foulest, and sexist, pejoratives in the dictionary.

Palin responded to what she called Cher’s “irrational rant” on her Facebook page, and linked to a post by her brother, Chuck Heath. “I was sorry to hear you tweeted out such vile comments about my little sister,” Heath wrote. “It’s sad because Sarah has never had a harsh word to say about you. In fact, our grandmother was one of your biggest fans.” Zing.

I’ve been trying to get through Palin’s latest book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas. It’s a rehash of stories about the atheists and non-Christians who try to spoil Christmas by objecting to overtly Christian displays on public land and a pointless indictment of retailers who have opted for the word “holiday” over the word “Christmas” in their signage and advertising.

Really, the silly “war on Christmas” thing is well beyond its use-by date, but you can’t blame Palin for trying to cash in.

So call her disingenuous.

Or call her intellectually dishonest.

But enough with the sexist slurs.

Robin Abcarian is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

©2013 Los Angeles Times

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