Keith Olbermann's Mama Needs To Slap Him Upside the Head
So, why does Sarah Palin think Keith Olbermann is evil?
Let's contemplate that question after we finish chuckling at the classy way in which he closed out "Countdown" last night:
"But, apropos of Palin, I can't remember who said this, but it came to mind: What's the difference between a governor of Alaska and a pitbull? You can train a pitbull to occasionally keep its mouth closed."
(On the split screen, Rachel Maddow begins laughing.)
"Do you know who said that? Because I can't remember."
"No, I can't. No, that’s new to me. Is that the safe thing to say here"
"I think so. I didn't, that's not mine. That’s somebody else's."
We get it, Keith. Palin's a bitch. Hillary Clinton, bitch. Palin needs to shut her pie-hole and go away now.
But after hammering on these themes for more than a year now, can you give it a rest?
Or at the very least: get some therapy, dude.
Am I being overly sensitive? Probably. This year was really the best of times and the worst of times for women in presidential politics. There was an reasonable amount of good, solid coverage and commentary on Palin, Clinton, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain. But much of this was buried under an avalanche of coverage on how they sounded, laughed, dressed, mothered, and otherwise conformed or deviated from how women were "supposed" to behave.
I'd like to cut Olbermann some slack here, to think than when he makes comments like this, or like he did back in April when he was quizzing Howard Fineman on how to get Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race by saying that she needed: "somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out."
Our language is, after all, filled with prejudices: against women, against men, against racial groups, ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups, and religious groups. Jumping on every little thing would be like trying to drain the ocean with a teaspoon.
At the same time, if you don't speak up when the people who fill your airwaves or your newspapers or your blogs use what you know in your heart is the kind of "coded" language designed to keep a person in their place, you can't sit around scratching your head and wondering why we have so few women, so few African-Americas, or so few Latinos controlling the levers of power in our democracy.
As for Keith.....oh Keith..... I suggest printing up a little sign and pasting in on your mirror: "What would Edward R. Murrow do?"
Because I'm sure, being a man of his time, old Ed was as sexist as they come, but I'm equally sure he wouldn't have used it as a cheap shot on the air. He had more respect for his audience than that.
**Addendum, 3:01pm EST. I'm going to make a couple of notes here, as some comments (below) show me I need to clarify some of my positions, and it's simpler than responding to each one of you individually:
1) Many women understand the subtext of "jokes" about "training" a woman to keep her mouth shut. Others don't see a problem with it. I'm in the group that DOES see a problem with it. It's like pornography -- I know it when I see it. Other people will draw the line differently.
2) Keith Olbermann has a long history of piling on women and belittling them as dumb, trashy, slutty, or otherwise objects of ridicule. It doesn't really matter if that person is Sarah Palin or Paris Hilton. He fills hours of his program each year to this kind of coverage. He's spent two hours on Palin since the day after Election Day -- almost none of it actual news, but rather a platform to vent his speen on how dumb and irrelevant she is. It's just not appropriate behavior for a self-described "journalist."
3) Women are still a novelty act in American politics, and what is done to one does affect all. What 2008 showed is that even strong candidates, like Hillary Clinton, can be diminished if the focus is kept on her behavior, whether or not she cried, how she laughs, if her experience "counts," if she's "manipulative," and so on -- things that are cannot be factually proven or disproven, but are based on our cultural stereotypes about women in general. For weaker candidates, like Sarah Palin, the tactic is devastating. The thing about ridicule is that you can't really fight it. You're just "whining." Shut up. Go away. The tactic worked this election cycle, and it will be deployed again.
It's been quite a year for rants so far: why Obama should give a petit Inaugural, the never-ending war between Sarah Palin and the media, Sanjay Gupta and the battle over fat, Gaza and the battle for Israel's soul among them.