No, this isn't a joke about three people who walk into a bar. But it's got the makings of a pretty good one, at that.
It has been an interesting week for Ms. Palin. She has made a few more of the usual ill-advised and uninformed statements for which she is now quite famous. But she has done something that she may never have accomplished before. She has become the victim. That's not a role she has cultivated, and it certainly isn't one she is accustomed to.
With a curled lip of obvious distaste, the inimitable Sarah Palin this past week said of Pope Francis, that he seems a little too liberal for her tastes. And earlier this month she said the coming debt crisis we are now causing, the crisis that she labels as clearly the fault of those over-spending liberals, is going to make slaves of our future generations. She said our debt to China will "be like slavery" for our children. And, of course, it's all the fault of Obama and those unthinking, foolish liberals.
Her use of slavery as a parallel was immediately pounced upon by her detractors, and rightly so. To compare our children's resolution of the debt problems we bestow upon them to slavery, is to completely misunderstand what slavery was, and in many places still is. But sweet Sarah is certainly no stranger to misunderstanding. Her comments about the Pope demonstrated that fact rather clearly. To say that the Pope's comments and views are "too liberal" for Palin's personal tastes, displays her incapacity to understand not only what "liberal" actually means, but also what the life and iconic duties of the Pope happen to be.
Enter MSNBC's Martin Bashir. On his show last Friday, Bashir dealt with Ms. Palin's unfortunate slavery remarks in an even more unfortunately memorable way. He got caught up in the lack of thought that is Sarah Palin. He got carried away with her excesses and her stupidity, and went off on her with a verbal attack that, in days gone by, would have shaken the journalism world even more than Palin's remarks habitually shake the world of politics.
Bashir brought up some examples of slavery in action. He mentioned one documented slave owner's grotesquely inhuman form of punishment, where one slave was forced to defecate in the mouth another. Then came the unfortunate part where Bashir got a bit too carried away in his emotional reaction to Palin's stupidity. He suggested that when she invoked slavery in this ridiculously ignorant fashion, she confirmed her candidacy as recipient for the very same punishment. Sorry, Martin. That just wasn't too smart a thing to say.
Granted, Palin hasn't been a great candidate for many things, and this might finally be one for which she is well-qualified. Perhaps a case could even be made for her deserving some form of punishment for her excesses and her ignorance. But the punishment does usually have to fit the crime a little better than this, don't you think, Martin?
Even in today's world of compromised journalism, CNN's description of Bashir's comments as "incendiary" is an understatement. While it is true that Bashir's excesses are a direct result of Palin's, that certainly doesn't excuse what he suggested. His error was considerably worse than her misappropriation of slavery for her example. Not that he wasn't entitled to his opinion, but when you are publicly representing someone else's network, it's just not professional to go around saying things like that. Professionalism still counts for something, even in today's world where actual news is pretty hard to find in and among all the commentary, sound bites, and blatantly promotional partisanship.
As suggested by right-wing types, Bashir should indeed be sanctioned for his lack of judgment. But he did profusely apologize for his lack of professionalism, and despite what his partisan detractors might think, it was a pretty convincing apology. So he should probably be permitted to keep his job.
But Martin, please try not to get dragged down to the level of those you are dealing with. It's not advisable when you are a mouthpiece working for someone else.