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Sarah Palin's Double Standard on Double Standards

December 18, 2010

Like a broken clock, even Sarah Palin is occasionally right. So it is with her suggestion that the perpetually weepy incoming House Speaker John Boehner is getting a free pass for theatrical water works a woman could never survive politically. As it turns out, the half-term governor is speaking from experience when she claimed "that's one of those things where a double standard certainly is applied." After all, what she criticized in 2008 as "whining" by Hillary Clinton for Sarah Palin is just an expression of her own "First Amendment rights."
In the same interview in which she told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts that she is giving "prayerful consideration" to a 2012 White House bid, Palin lamented the double standard for that tear jerk, John Boehner:

"I don't know if a woman would be given a pass necessarily. That's one of those things where a double standard is applied. I'm sure if I got up there and did a speech, and I started breaking down and cried about how important it is to me that our children and grandchildren are provided great opportunities, I'm sure I would be knocked a little bit for that."

Kind of like she knocked Hillary Clinton.
During a Women and Leadership event back in March 2008, Governor Palin was asked about Senator Clinton's response to media scrutiny - and criticism - she received on the campaign trail during the Democratic primaries. Palin made it clear to moderator Karen Breslau of Newsweek that she considered Clinton's conduct unbecoming. Hillary, she insisted, needed to just "plow through":

"Fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it...When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or, you know, maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn't do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. I don't think it's, it bodes well for her -- a statement like that...It bothers me a little bit hearing her bring that attention to herself on that level."

Of course, after her failed vice presidential bid, Sarah Palin brought more than a little attention to herself with her whining about "excess criticism."
In defeat, Palin attacked the "stinkers" in the media "who have kind of made the whole basket full of apples, once in a while, smell kind of bad." As for her anonymous colleagues on the McCain campaign who decried her ignorance about Africa, NAFTA and so much else while labeling her and her family "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," Sarah Palin ignored her past counsel to Hillary Clinton and took the low road:

"It's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional, and those guys are jerks."

Time and again, Palin confused the press with Congress in claiming that criticism of her constituted a denial of her free speech rights under the First Amendment.
Sarah Palin's first unfortunate run-in with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution came during the home stretch of the 2008 presidential campaign. During an interview with conservative WMAL radio, she regurgitated her usual talking points against the "elitism" and "filter" of the "mainstream media" before coughing up this nugget:

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

Then in May 2009, Palin extended her ersatz constitutional protections to Carrie Prejean, portraying her fellow beauty pageant contestant and marriage equality opponent as a victim of a "liberal onslaught of malicious attacks." Going one step further, Palin asserted:

"I can relate as a liberal target myself...I respect Carrie for standing strong and staying true to herself, and for not letting those who disagree with her deny her protection under the nation's First Amendment Rights. Our Constitution protects us all -- not just those who agree with the far left."

Two months later, Palin's First Amendment dullardry raised its ugly head again. In the wake of his apology for an unfortunate joke at the expense of Palin's 14-year old daughter, the soon-to-be ex-Governor said of David Letterman:

"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. This is all thanks to our U.S. Military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's Right to Free Speech - in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect."

Alas, the same Right to Free Speech did not extend to her critics. When various bloggers and media outlets published reports that the Alaska Governor might be the subject of a criminal investigation, Sarah Palin threatened to sue.
As with the soon-to-be disgraced Prejean, Palin extended her phony free speech umbrella to already-disgraced right-wing radio host, Dr. Laura Schlesinger. Dr. Laura, as you'll recall, claimed she quit her radio show to "regain my First Amendment rights" supposedly lost after her staccato on-air use of the N-word. Rushing to Schlesinger's defense, Palin took to Twitter:

Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")
Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

Which brings us to the final double standard in the Palin book on double standards. Palin's fierce defense of Dr. Laura's N-bombs came just months after she called for Rahm Emanual's head after his supposed use of the "R-word" in a private meeting:

"Just as we'd be appalled if any public figure of Rahm's stature ever used the 'N-word' or other such inappropriate language, Rahm's slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities - and the people who love them - is unacceptable, and it's heartbreaking."

As for her presidential prospects, Sarah Palin told ABC's Roberts that "if I were to participate in that contested primary -- you know, it -- I would be in it to win it."
Just like Hillary Clinton.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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