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Who sez?


So I’m reading this Huff&Puff piece by Peter Daou about Sarah Palin and I see this line:

More recently, she had the audacity to allow her camp to take on a teenage boy while decrying attacks against her own family.

That sentence links to this piece by Greg Sargent:

You may have heard that Sarah Palin’s spokesperson launched a brutal hit today on 19-year-old Levi Johnston, the former fiancee of Palin daughter Bristol, because he committed the sin of claiming he’d heard Palin say she’s hoping to cash in on a book deal. “It is interesting to learn Levi is working on a piece of fiction while honing his acting skills,’ Palin family spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said.

Sorry to go all tabloid, but haven’t Palin and her spokesperson repeatedly said attacking kids is off limits? Haven’t they repeatedly insisted that attacks on her kids are proof that everyone from the media to the White House is conspiring to make Palin the victim of a cosmically unfair double standard?

Palin spokesperson Stapleton has repeatedly attacked Levi in the harshest of terms. And we don’t particularly care about that. But Palin recently complained that her kids should be off limits, and griped that her kids are constantly targeted, even though the Obama children were left alone. It’s a constant refrain from the Palin camp.

Brutal hit?  What’s so brutal about it?  That’s about the nicest way I’ve ever heard someone get called a liar.

Sargent links to this NY Daily News piece for evidence of “harshest of terms” attacks. I clicked over expecting to see something like “He’s a low-life trailer trash piece of shit” but here’s what I found:

“It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the well-being of the child,” said a statement from a Palin family representative yesterday.


Sarah Palin countered that the high school dropout is just trying to extend his 15 minutes of fame at Bristol’s expense.

“We’re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration and even distortion of their relationship,” said the statement.

Am I missing something here?

First of all, Levi Johnston (aka “Ricky Hollywood”) is a 19 year-old man.  The “teenage boy” line makes it sound like he is still a child.  He may not be old enough to drink alcohol but by law he is an adult.  He can vote, enlist in the military (if they would take him without a high school diploma) sign contracts and get married without anyone’s permission.  If convicted of a crime he would face jail or prison.

Secondly, the part about “attacking kids is off limits” is in reference to attacks on the children of candidates/politicians as third-parties.  No one deserves to get trashed merely because they are related to a politician.

Levi Johnston lost third-party status when he chose to go on national television and dish dirt on the Palin family.  If the Palins were issuing defamatory statements (true or not) just because Levi and Bristol Palin had split up that would be one thing.  It was bad enough when he went on the Tyra Banks show to discuss the intimate details of his relationship with Bristol, but Levi recently held a press conference to make allegations about the reason for Sarah’s resignation.

At this point Levi’s status is essentially no different from any other former insider.  If a former aide or campaign staffer was making the same allegations would the media have their panties twisted because Sarah issued a statement calling the allegations “flat out lies?”

This brings me to another issue – who says politicians can’t complain or push back against the things being said about them?  Where did that whole idea originate?

Part of it comes from the old “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” idea that words are harmless.  But if they are so harmless then why is responding with words “harsh” and “brutal?”  The truth is words can cause tremendous damage to self-esteem, reputations and careers.

The idea that we should never respond to things being said about us is tailor-made for bullies.  Physical violence is only one aspect of bullying.  Verbal abuse, character assassination and spreading malicious rumors in workplace bullying is up to 1,600 times more common than violence.

If someone is talking trash and spreading lies about me I have the right to defend myself.  Whether I choose to exercise that right is up to me.  Appropriate responses might include denials, retorts or even legal action for defamation.  The wisdom of responding is dependent on the situation.  Obviously, not everything is worth the effort.

Like Sarah Palin, Bill and Hillary Clinton were often attacked with outrageously untrue allegations.  The media conventional wisdom (then and now) was that they should ignore the allegations.  Of course it was often the media that was attacking them, and regardless of who made the attacks they were always carried by the media.

With the media against them they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.  If they ignored the attacks the public might think the allegations are true and vote accordingly.  If they responded they were either accused of “whining,” “playing the victim card,” or “engaging in the politics of personal destruction.”

Ask Michael Dukakis what happens when you ignore the attacks made against you.  He blew a 17 point lead against Poppy Bush and was blown out on election day.

Ever wonder where Bill and Hillary got the reputation of being ruthless campaigners?  In 1992 Betsey Wright ran Bill Clinton’s “rapid response system” answering personal attacks made against him. Part of what she did was digging up dirt on the accusers to show that they were liars.  Libby Holden (Kathy Bates) in the movie Primary Colors was based on Wright.

Last year Barack Obama ran a negative campaign against Hillary.  His campaign pushed every smear that came down the pike, including the “race card” stuff, Tuzla Airport and the RFK assassination fauxrage.  The media didn’t just let him, they actively assisted in concealing his role.  But anytime Hillary’s campaign said anything (even in her defense) the media made sure everyone knew where it was coming from.

So now we have Sarah Palin getting the same treatment.  Look at the way the media responded to the the sexist comments by David Letterman – somehow Sarah was “taking advantage” of the situation.  Compare that to the media’s reaction to Hillary’s complaint about David Shuster’s “pimped out” remarks.

When Sarah announced her resignation, blogger/radio personality Shannyn Moore started spreading false rumors that the FBI was about to arrest Palin.  When Palin’s attorney threatened to take legal action for defamation, Moore claimed that Palin was trying to “muzzle” her and called Palin a “coward and a bully.”  Pot, meet kettle.

Personally, I hope Sarah hits back hard at her critics.  Bullies hate it when their victims fight back.


Jeebus, I barely hit “publish” and I find this from the WSJ:

When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced her resignation two weeks ago it was after a series of strange, petty bouts with her detractors. Many “frivolous ethics violations” had been alleged against her, she noted. David Letterman had told an ugly joke about her daughter. A blogger had posted something that was probably not true. Someone had photoshopped a radio talker’s face onto a picture of her baby — a “malicious desecration” of the image, in the words of Ms. Palin’s spokeswoman.

Team Palin got duly indignant at each of these. They took special, detailed offense. They issued statements magnifying their wounds. And, finally, the governor resigned her office, a good woman cruelly wronged.

The culture’s fantastically unfair treatment of middle Americans is the main lesson that many will no doubt take away from Ms. Palin’s time in the national spotlight. In fact, it may be the only lesson. We don’t really know where the former vice presidential candidate stands on most issues. We know only that she is constantly being maligned, that when we turn on the TV and see her fair face beaming, we are about to hear that some liberal someone has slurred this noble lady yet again.

Indeed, if political figures stand for ideas, victimization is what Ms. Palin is all about. It is her brand, her myth. Ronald Reagan stood tall. John McCain was about service. Barack Obama has hope. Sarah Palin is a collector of grievances. She runs for high office by griping.

This is no small thing, mind you. The piling-up of petty complaints is an important aspect of conservative movement culture. For those who believe that American life consists of the trampling of Middle America by the “elites” — that our culture is one big insult to the pious and the patriotic and the traditional — Sarah Palin’s long list of unfair and disrespectful treatment is one of her most attractive features. Like Oliver North, Robert Bork, and Clarence Thomas, she is known not for her ideas but as a martyr, a symbol of the culture-war crimes of the left.

To become a symbol of this stature Ms. Palin has had to do the opposite of most public figures. Where others learn to take hostility in stride, she and her fans have developed the thinnest of skins. They find offense in the most harmless remarks and diabolical calculation in the inflections of the anchorman’s voice. They take insults out of context to make them seem even more insulting. They pay close attention to voices that are ordinarily ignored, relishing every blogger’s sneer, every celebrity’s slight, every crazy Internet rumor.

Damned if you do . . .

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70 Responses

  1. To clarify:

    I am not suggesting that Levi Johnston is a bully. But he is helping them.

    • If I were in Bristol Palin’s shoes, I’d feel bullied.

      • If I was her I would be wondering “What was I thinking?”

        • …and “oh crap, THAT’s my babydaddy???? WTF was I thinking?”

        • I bet RIcky HollywOOd AKA Levi Johnston does look soo handsome now that he has revealed the INNER him and that he has an alter EGO! Yup, he has a big EGO and that ego has forgotten his parental duties cuz he has got to take care of a bigger baby crying, ‘ME, ME, ME’.

          • The latest is that he didn’t want to go to the GOP convention and Bristol “made” him go.

            He wanted to go hunting instead.

          • I hate to say this, it was Bristol’s choice; but Levi sounds like a very good argument for keeping abortion legal

          • Sorry, I know that was mean.

          • Is 19 too old for a retroactive abortion… 🙂

          • We could all chip in and buy him a vasectomy

          • LOL myiq! Someone should seriously start the “get Levi a vasectomy” fund.

          • I changed my mind let him do commercials for the Ginsu Circumcision Knife. He would only need to test it a few times while being filmed. He could get paid royalties which could be attached for child support. Everybody wins.



          • The latest is that he didn’t want to go to the GOP convention and Bristol “made” him go.

            If that were true he would be working and paying child support. It turns out she is only in charge of taking care of the BABY (the real one) and herself and doing a good job of it because she finished school and is on her way to college. He needs to stop believing the people that are telling him he is sooo good looking and get a JOB and take care of his responsibilities.

  2. This brings me to another issue – who says politicians can’t complain or push back against the things being said about them? Where did that whole idea originate?
    Not pushing back or answering false charges didn’t do John Kerry a whole lot of good. I think of him as the poster child for gentlemanly losers.

    • I’ve worked in political communications for 20 years. With a variety of either candidates or elected officials. I would argue that Palin and her surrogates should NOT have responded (and certainly not in THIS way) on this (and many other occassions) to Levi J. FIrst, it was responding to a “charge” she had already addressed. Second, the way they responded — quite “quotable” — turned a less than one day story in to a one or two day story. Third, in cases like this a response elevates the attention and “extends the shelf life” of the “opponent.” IMO it is NOT about “children off limits”, or “gender bias”, MSM bias on Palin, or anything else. Simply, it is a bad communications strategy decision.

      • I thought it was a bad communications strategy, too, but the constant dehumanization of Palin and her family is still not right.

      • “gender bias”, MSM bias on Palin”

        It is just about these two things. The left has gotten, or proven themselves just as ignorant and sexist as anyone on the right has ever been. I say that as a liberal.

      • Sounds like you could have advised those “winners” Dukakis and Kerry.

        • We’ll know if it was a good or bad strategy somewhere down the road.

          I generally prefer a “kick ’em in the junk” strategy rather than “turn the other cheek” but that’s just me.

  3. Is this a gender-related attitude–that women shouldn’t fight back? I’m not sure, just asking.

    Greg Sargent sounds like a ninny calling what the Palin spokesman said a “brutal hit” and worrying about the well-being of a 19-year-old who won’t support his illegitimate child. Grow up Levi!

    When I was 19, I was on my own working and supporting myself. I was young, but certainly not a child.

  4. Do you mean Levi is not paying child support? Bristol should bring him to court, It doesn’t matter if she can support the baby on her own with her family’s help, imo, fathers should support their kids.

    • I agree, and at the same time she needs to ask for sole custody since Ricky Hollywood AKA Levi Johnston is out of the State and neglecting his parental duties. He also has not finished school and doesn’t have a steady job. I do believe California will not issue Ricky or Levi or whom ever he comes up with next as his alter EGO a license if he isn’t paying child support and will also garner his wages ASAP!

      • Oooh! That would be funny. And then Greg Sargent could write a piece about how poor Levi is being attacked by the state of CA.

        • Wha…Ricky/Levi/Cry BABY will protest, they are being so mean:

          Those big CA laws are making me pay child support, and I had to get a big scary JOB to pay or else. I can’t even drive a scooter, until I am caught up…I have to take the bus and ride my skate board….wha!–Wha Cry Baby AKA Ricky AKA Levi Johnston’s imaginary EGOs

        • Actually, the best thing for the baby might be to terminate the little oaf’s parental rights.

  5. Sheesh, did the WSJ call ObamaEtAl on all the cries of racism for the last two years????

    • He even got away with preemptive accusations.

      “They are gonna say I look different.”

      • OMG, just seeing that written down brings it all back again and I am furious.

      • I never saw Obama as “hope” but the Queen of victimization real or otherwise. Remember the timing of that scholarly report on whites unconscious racism affecting their ability to vote for a black man? Just seemed to confirm what Obama was pre-whining about. Didn’t it?

  6. For all the hits that Palin has taken from the “respectable” media and unrespectable bloggers, I wonder who is being petty. Palin has every right to protect herself and her family from personal attacks. The media crossed the line when they started their tabloid coverage of Palin and her family. To blame everything on Palin because of her responses is ridiculous.

  7. P.S. I certainly was not pooh-poohing Palin’s defence of herself and family. That is justified whereas ObamaRacism was very often a work of fiction.

  8. “Voices ordinarily ignored”? Not by the media. Those voices get repeated and often, not only by the media, but also the bloggers, talking heads and gossip columnists. This is really getting out of hand and I hope the people of this country are finally ready to punish the mainstream chattering class who refuses to report actual news and has turned into “Entertainment Tonight”. What have we become? Is this new or has this been happening all along. I think it started when a woman dared to run for the highest office in the land and stood a great chance of winning. It had to be stopped at all cost.

  9. Oh, Ricky
    Oh, Ricky your not fine you don’t even pay your child on time,
    Oh, Ricky,

    Oh, Levi
    Oh, Levi your not fine cuz you gossip on some else’s dime,
    Oh, Levi

    Oh, Ricky
    Oh, Ricky your not fine you’ve never worked over time,
    Oh, Tricky,

    Oh, Levi
    Oh, Levi your not fine you’ve been telling lies and wasting time.
    Oh, Levi

    Oh, Ricky
    Oh, Ricky your not fine you can’t sing, you can’t dance, you can’t act and gossiping is not in the byline,
    Oh, Ricky

    Oh, Levi
    Oh, Levi talking trash about your child’s mom is social crime, you little slime,
    Oh, Levi

    • LOL, good one WomanVoter.

      He really is a little pompous ass, isn’t he? Given the culture and the way we raise boys to believe they don’t need to take responsibility for much of anything, I’m not surprised. You do find a handful of 19 yr old boys trying to be good parents, but they really are few and far between.

      • yttik,

        Yes, it would be nice if he took some responsibility for his child and not leave all the struggles to the baby’s mom, but he even goes further by tarnishing her in interviews and that is not good. He needs to MAN UP and shut up already!

  10. Greg Sargent, and others like him, hoping to hook onto the Obama Fame Wagon. Dreary little people, probably failures at what ever endeavors they undertook, massaging their egos with the circle jerk of Palin bashing.

  11. I hope you set Daou straight in the comments section myiq. That’s disappointing–especially coming from him, after his noble defense of Hillary. The PDS is out of control. Some little piss ant is out there on national “news” shows claiming to speak for her, and she’s not supposed to respond? His reasoning that this idiot is the same as the situation with her kids being attacked is a clear indication of PDS distorted thinking.

    • As I pointed out in my comment below, Daou is actually trying to get people to stop bashing Palin for sport. The point about the Palin camp taking Levi is a minor one in the larger context of his post which was to stop the Palin bashing. He has been, in my opinion, consistently speaking out against the dehumanization of Palin.

      • Since when does throwing bullshit into a post improve Daou’s credibility? If you are trying to get people to not do something, it would be wise not to do it yourself.

        • I have been following Daou’s writing on this. He has been speaking out against the dehumanization of Palin. Did you read Daou’s piece? He wasn’t “injecting bullshit” — this is what Daou said in context:

          The first two complaints are straw men. I drew no equivalence between Clinton’s and Palin’s accomplishments, ideals, character, etc. Nor did I argue that Palin should in any way be exempted from forceful criticism. In fact, I stated that Palin is “totally wrong on the issues” and that she lacked Clinton’s character. Her attacks on Obama during the presidential campaign were deplorable. More recently, she had the audacity to allow her camp to take on a teenage boy while decrying attacks against her own family. Most importantly, Palin’s political ideology is the polar opposite of mine. She stands for almost everything I fight against. As an unwavering Clinton advocate (and former advisor), I hardly need to be told that she is a far more disciplined, more thoughtful, and more accomplished person than Sarah Palin. I’ve known few people in my life with the intelligence, inner fortitude, humor and compassion of Hillary Clinton.

          I did, however, compare Palin’s humanity with Clinton’s and implored my cohorts on the left to “avoid outright viciousness and mockery on a level that few of us could handle.” I stand firmly by that point. We shouldn’t forget our political opponents’ humanity, nor should we stoop to cheap attacks, innuendo and ridicule when we have ample disagreements on substance. If I’m not mistaken, that’s the Obama spirit. And it’s smarter politically. Let’s criticize Palin and debate her, let’s point out her hypocrisy and bad ideas and muddled policies, but let’s also maintain some sense of balance and proportion. It’s one thing to direct the full force of our vitriol at Bush and Cheney when they ran America into the ground — some political leaders deserve universal condemnation. But the massive outpouring of disdain directed at Palin seems disproportionate to her real power. If anything, it’s empowering her.

          • Thanks, Wonk. It’s encouraging to read someone who thinks so highly of the Obama camp – “If I’m not mistaken, that’s the Obama spirit.” – also get the negative repercussions and the basic unfairness of PDS.

          • but that first paragraph is complete crap… Nobody compares to Clinton in the ability to work hard and study so that she knows exactly what she is talking about. But where does he get off attacking Palin’s character. He also seems to think Obama doesn’t attack? Did he get amnesia since the primary? Why doesn’t he do a fair comparison between here and Obama, rather than compare her to Clinton. He totally gives Obama a pass.
            Good God, e tu, david?

            ps.. he is also talking as if she were a rabid conservative and she is not. Like other democrats, he really has little idea who she is. He too is victim of the media.

          • TeresaINPA: I disagree and don’t think his first paragraph is crap at all. He is firmly establishing himself as not a Palin supporter.

            As for the “that’s the Obama spirit” line, I don’t take that as literally as you do, either. I am sure that Peter Daou has not forgotten the primaries even if he has moved past them. I think it was a clever reminder to Obama’s supporters that Palin-bashing is not the politics of hope or change that they profess as the reason they supported Obama.

          • Yes of course, we all know that when someone says “that’s the Obama spirit” they don’t mean it. Give it up cause his first paragraph is pure bullshit and there’s no saving it.

            Daou reminds me of the person who would take a sandwish to a gun fight because knives are so messy. He’s a nice guy but isn’t doing anyone any good there.

          • Meh, I think you’re missing the point, which is that one can staunchly oppose Palin in terms of politics, and at the same time be opposed to the dehumanization of Palin and her family.

  12. Re: Palin “fighting back.” I WISH Hillary had fought back more, but as you say, “damned if you do, or if you don’t.” Either way, they twist it into wrong-doing. If you say nothing, the smears stick. If you protest, you are a whiner. Our national dialogue is in the gutter. Seriously, people are writing pieces DEFENDING Levi Johnston?!!

    • I don’t get the defense thing.

      I can understand ignoring him or mocking him, but what is there to defend?

    • Hillary is a fighter and she is still weathering the storm. Ever since her speech yesterday, I’ve seen the volume go back up on the Clinton derangement. There was a nasty post up on Huffpo by someone who is clearly still stuck in fighting the primaries and is THE definition of sore winner. The good thing is that this piece didn’t seem to get much traffic, or at least not very many comments.

  13. At least Palin hasn’t been accused of wearing “Mom” jeans (at least not yet, as far as I’m aware of).

    (I apologize for the hot air link, but it’s actually to a CNN clip.)


  14. Daou has gotten a lot of flak for pushing back on the Palin derangement, though. I think he was trying to “speak to his audience at their level” when he said that about the Palin camp taking on Levi. I felt like that was strategic, like saying, “look I understand that she does stuff that makes no sense to you, she does stuff that doesn’t make sense to me either” but I think it’s important to note that Daou said that in the larger context of continuing to point out that people need to stop focusing their energy on sliming Palin merely for sport. Daou has been trying to get the Palin-haters to realize that they are being haters, and if they can’t realize that then at least realize if nothing else that there are much bigger fish to fry.

    I actually saw a very very dim glimmer of hope in a few of the responses to his “Palin-Mania: How Goldman Sachs Robbed Us While We Obsessed about Sarah Palin” — there was of course the usual hostile “but but but Sarah is a cartoon!” feedback that he has gotten at Huffpo in his earlier attempts to point out that the dehumanization of Palin is wrong (and he has been very consistent on that point IMHO). But, along with that, I did see some people at least getting the very basic point that their efforts would be better spent on taking to task the bastards who actually have power, and that their obsession with Palin is a distraction.

  15. Don’t these idiots from the WSJ realize that the more demonize and complain about Palin, the more people are having a knee-jerk reaction to support her? Now they’ve just given her a whole new slew of reasons for support. It’s ironic to me that the things the MSM has been saying are inconsequential, like those disgusting remarks made about her baby and that website of which they allude to would be grounds for some kind of lawsuit in the real world of victimizing people who have disabilities?

    This is the ironic thing about the “new democratic party,” once the champions of victims and minority rights have now become the biggest bullies in town.

    great piece myiq. Yes, if that was the worst the Palin camp said about Levi, a whole bunch of people would get in trouble for much worse (like comments about a female candidate being on her period), but haven’t we realized that its all different in this new era of the game of politics?

    • They’re classic bullies ana weaklings. They can dish it out but they can’t take it.

      NOW President Terry O’Neill said sexist attacks on Clinton and Palin are sexual harassment:

      Sexist and racist attacks on women or mothers who dare enter the public sphere, including Governor Palin, Secretary of State Clinton, First Lady Obama and Judge Sotomayor are a form of sexual harassment.

      Sexual harassment operates in the workplace by making it clear that women just aren’t welcome. Comedians, pundits and all those men dominating the airwaves think it’s open season on women public figures – and feminists won’t allow this sexual harassment to continue any longer.

  16. Levi is a himbo. Usually since men dominate politics you have bimbos popping up in the news but I guess with more female politicians the himbos will start crawling out of the wood work. And Democrats are still so pleased with themselves over what they are not, Republicans, that they are unable to see what they have become, blatantly intolerant misogynist. And they are not “elites” they are elitist. The good thing about referring to Democrats as elites is then they will self identify and you don’t need to waste time figuring out who they are so you can avoid them.

  17. He’s the Kato Kalin of today’s hot political family. I hope he fades into the background really fast. There’s nothing about Levi that deserves anyone’s admiration or the spending of a single dollar.

  18. There are many ways of communicating and terming a 19 year old as a child is propaganda meant to sway and audience as the left in particular lies exorbitantly as David Letterman in his cocktail crowd political rape of the entire Palin family.

    Gov. Palin scares the entire closet of patricians who hide like an infection in the right and the left. Peggy Noonan, Newsbusters Noel Sheppard are examples of Obama fawnlings who helped elect him finding security on the right.
    The left in this election was comprised of either racists voting for Obama for catharsis like Harry Smith or sex perverts like Chris Matthews, followed up by numbers of Hillary haters like Mo Dowd.
    The reason Gov. Palin scares these leftists is they are as big brother Bill Buckley as Barack Obama is. One has to understand that the “right” has people in it who think they are superior to all and that the government should direct people’s lives and decide how all money is spent.

    None of that is Ronald Reagan and is why Jeb Bush of the patricians wants Reagan dead and buried and said so. The same reasoning is about Sarah Palin who is for responsible liberty, small government, government out of people’s lives and people developing incredible economic opportunities for themselves to enrich an entire nation, all based in God directed morality.
    All of that is vintage Reagan and why these attacks from patricians who desire to keep the entire rule and not allowing any leader like Sarah Palin to complete the Reagan vision.

    God bless.

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