Political InQueery: The Week in Offensive Comments
I don't mean to get stuck on Sarah Palin, honestly. She pops up on the media's radar, however, for a whole host of reasons:
- She gives meatier, off-the-cuff remarks than most anyone, including Joe Biden
- She is something other than a white guy in a stuffed suit
- She looks like she's gunning to run for President in 2012
- She has sex appeal
This last point isn't my own assessment—I'm just saying I think mainstream media thinks she has sex appeal. Either from what she radiates in the way of sinewy forearm muscles (see Wednesday's blog post), or because the media is premised at least a little bit on a sexist framework, when there are articles about Ms. Palin, there often is a focus on something other than her policy stances. So I wasn't exactly shocked to read this headline on Thursday morning—Sarah Palin (DD-Alaska)?—from the Boston Herald. To gild the lily, the lead-in was even more to the point [sic]: Hey, Sarah Palin, I can see your cleavage from my house!
Are you freaking kidding me? That shirt is high cut! I don't care if they think her choice of outfit to the Belmont Stakes races "lit up" the blogosphere, it's not fit to print this, is it? Wondering out loud if she's had work done? Aren't there cameras following this woman like she's the stand-in for Princess Di? I think we'd all know in a Boston Herald heartbeat if she'd shown up at a strip mall plastic surgeon's office (wait, that was me, my bad)! The Baltimore Sun was able to cover their attendance without resorting to snickering over lady body parts, and even mentioned something interesting; they were watching a horse in the race, Best Dude, who is named for Todd Palin and who was born by a horse named Run Sarah Run. I think it's cute when conservatives get clever.
Sarah's not my only talking point; one day before the Herald story, Carly Fiorina got a little attention in the media for my favorite politician's gaffe: she snarked into a hot mic. Calling Barbara Boxer's hair "so yesterday," the press is having a field day for how she dissed California's senator one mere day after winning the GOP primary for the senate. I'd be giggling like a happy child if I were Boxer's campaign manager. "Barbara, paying attention to the needs of California voters. Not fashion." Or something. But why would Fiorina spend any energy talking about hairstyles, anyway? Has she not seen men's hairstyles among male politicians?
Oh, Jesse. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. That hair is so pre-civil rights era, man.
My final case in point this week is Helen Thomas. In the interests of full disclosure, I will say that I am a distant relative of hers, though I don't know how exactly; we're something like second cousins twice removed or whatever. I've never actually met her. She basically ruined her entire 50-year career with an awful quote to a rabbi who asked her what she thought about Israel. This came the week after Israeli troops boarded a ship and shot several people on board, even though the crew said it was a relief vessel. Israel disputes that claim. But her response to the rabbi, who was a tourist walking through the White House, was disastrous and awful:
Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not Germany, it's not Poland.
Asked where they should go, she answered, "They should go home." She also added that they could go to the U.S. Clearly, she's missed the whole anti-immigrant sentiment thing brewing up here this year.
Well, truth be told, they've previously tried to go home, specifically after World War II, and they were massacred in their old villages and towns, in Poland and Germany. But beyond that oversight, her remarks are pretty abysmal. That said, she's had a 50-year career as a very liberal journalist, so I was frustrated to see that instead of critiquing her comments on Israel, people instead said the following:
Joe Klein in Time magazine's blog—She is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants. This explains her statement? Because she's from Kentucky and Detroit? Hah? Let's remember, too, that Joe Klein is the author of Primary Colors, which he initially published anonymously so he could keep his day job being a journalist, away from the media storm. So Joe should get a cloak of invisibility for himself, but he'll call other people names when the spotlight is on them. I get it.
Josh Malina via his Twitter account—Helen Thomas has covered every President since Eisenhower -- ironic, since she looks like an overlay of every President since Eisenhower. Dude, you used to work for Toby Ziegler; I expect better from you!
John A. Farrel, writing for US News & World Report—Old age deteriorates mental powers. In Western culture, since long before Shakespeare, old folks are portrayed as daffy for good reason, and for no fault of their own. The vessels bringing oxygen to the brain shrivel. Brain cells die. Codgers blurt out crazy things. And Helen Thomas did. Let me just add that this column is titled, "Helen Thomas Should Have Retired Sooner." It's going to suck for him when he hits 75.
For her part, Ms. Thomas wrote an apology on her Web site. "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."
May a lot of days come soon, Helen. Like the day we all give up being unprincipled assclowns whenever we think we have the opportunity or whenever we think women are vulnerable to it.
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