Sunday, June 14, 2009

Complicated Shadows

Earlier this week, there was a media rumble about David Letterman's aspersion, or otherwise, cast upon the Governor of Alaska, former Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate and voracious reader, Sarah Palin and members of her family to include her fourteen year old daughter. What was said, what was meant and what was said about what was meant are at least three different things and you've read all about them and I won't waste your time or mine speculating about any of that. (And yeah, her answer to Katie, who will NEVER be confused with Edward R. Murrow, still causes me to wince.)

The Governor is a public figure; getting whacked by late night hosts with clever or snarky remarks like a pinata, comes with the territory. The same recognition factor that induced someone to arrange at no cost to the Governor, I'm sure, an opportunity to sit in rather nice seats in the new Yankee Stadium for a New York Yankees baseball game was also the inducement for a writer for The Late Show to poke a stick at her. Life is hard-wear a cup (and make of that what you will).

The Governor's children aren't public figures. In much the same way as Rush Limbaugh's comparisons of then-First Daughter Chelsea Clinton to a four-legged White House pet was a cheap shot, the purported humor behind a grown man making sport of a fourteen year old girl is in poor form. To their credit, both of the men who did these things did later apologize for doing so though there's no known record of the success rate of putting the toothpaste back in the tube.

Surrogate warfare is okay in politics but, to me, it should only be 'okay' when the posture of those participating is defined and understood in advance. Here in Connecticut this week, our senior Senator is having some difficulty explaining his relationships to some of the larger pharmaceutical companies and health insurance combines in relation to his declared wealth. For those of us who see a confederacy of dunces as the only ones in government, the proof is in the public disclosures while for those who think we need to separate perceptions of reality from the reality itself, it's another day at the office.

The Senator, too, has sought higher public office in recent years with not-so-much success and understands the rules of the Gotcha Game. I'm not sure those who are organizing the torches and pitch forks for his spouse are being totally fair. She, the last time I checked, is a private citizen who, I guess, because she's married to him, gets to have her life torn up as well.

And at the end of the day, all of us, reader and reporter alike, look around to see where the next scandal is starting to form. The odor of ill repute is so intoxicating and the joy at the misfortune of others can be so addictive. Perhaps an athlete will be caught popping pills, a TV role model discovered with a pony, plastic sheets and a motel room or maybe it'll be a celebrity who drinks his own bathwater? Circuses are what's called for in these serious times to distract us from ever thinking about our dire circumstances and if the collateral damage proves to be fourteen or forty, who are we to mind? "When you should have found someone to put the blame on, Though the fury's hot and hard; I still see that cold graveyard. There's a solitary stone that's got your name on."
-bill kenny

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