Are you ready for your close-up Mrs. Palin?

H.L. Mencken once said “A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.”

This from a pundit and newspaperman whose been dead since 1956, but his words still hold true today – case in point, Sarah Palin, her weekend Tea Party convention and subsequent press coverage hinting at a run for the White House in 2012.  She’s got a spectacular three-ring act.

It seems when she isn’t making a horrific hypocrite of herself at the expense of her mentally disabled son, she’s reading crib notes from her hand. She got a lot of press coverage before her gathering of Tea Baggers (a happy coincidence it seems) after crucifying Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, for his use of the word “retard” when dogging liberal Democrats.  She even went so far as to call for his resignation. And why the outrage? She claimed in her Facebook rant it was about decency, not politics. She quoted a friend and fellow parent of a mentally disabled child,  who said he wanted his child to “grow up in a country free from mindless prejudice and discrimination, free from gratuitous insults of people who are ostensibly smart enough to know better…” I couldn’t agree more.

  But, while I will agree with the outrage, fast forward to her interview with Fox News Sunday where she defends Rush Limbaugh’s use of the very same hideous word used to criticize the same group of Democrats by saying Rush “was using satire.”

By way of clarifying, she explained the nuance the rest of us missed: “I didn’t hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with ‘f-ing retards,’ and we did know that Rahm Emanuel, as has been reported, did say that. There is a big difference there.”

Really? A big difference? Here’s more of Rush’s satire: 

“Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult has taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, ‘retards.” Limbaugh said this on his show. He continued, saying, “These liberal activists are kooks, they are looney tunes. I am not going to apologize for it, I am just quoting Emanuel…”

Sorry, I don’t see the difference. Rahm Emmanuel’s comment was made in a closed door meeting of White House aides and leaders of special interest groups and reported secondhand- not anywhere near as damning as Obama’s own gaffe last year during an interview on the nationally televised Tonight Show with Jay Leno, or Rush’s intentional use of the R-word on his nationally broadcast radio show.

But, as awful as I think it was, Emmanuel did apologize for his comments, as did the President last year. He even went so far as to meet with Tim Shriver, head of the Special Olympics and six other disability advocates. He has also promised to sign an online pledge to end the use of the word.
But Palin’s pal Rush, on the other hand, has said unequivocally that he will not APOLOGIZE. He speaks directly to a wide fan base of politically conservative listeners – most of them Palin’s hoped-for voters – Republicans. Hmmm?  And, upon explaining why he felt no need to apologize, he used the same offensive word THREE more times. But for Palin, a mother of child born with Downs Syndrome,  it’s okay as long as it’s satire. For Rush, he excuses himself because he was quoting someone else, but then clarifies it by attacking the people who find the word offensive by saying “Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult has taken place. . .

But the absolute cherry on top was when Rush finished his diatribe with this little jewel: “So now there is going to be a meeting, there is going to be a retard summit at the White House.”

 Among the members of the “retard summit” to which Rush refers were Special Olympics head Shriver, Andrew Imparato, president of the American Association of People with Disabilities; Ricardo Thornton, a Special Olympics athlete; and, Peter Berns of The Arc. These fine people, who do the hard work of advocating for our special children every day, met with Rahm Emmanuel last Wednesday. Does Palin take any offense to them being called the “retard summit”? Apparently not – her hypocrisy is boundless.

What saddens me most about this is Palin using her son to further her political aspirations – this is the center ring of her media circus and it makes my flesh crawl.

Despite my low opinion of her, I think of what someone with her newfound political clout could do for the very population of people she stands on the backs of to get attention for herself. I wonder why she doesn’t truly champion the causes of the mentally disabled, but instead, uses her son’s disability when it is politically advantageous, and leaves it behind when it is not.

When your ego can outpace and outweigh the responsibilities you have as a special needs parent, it’s time to step out of the spotlight. Face it Sarah, your mask is slipping.

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