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Palin and Michelle Obama, Two Very Different Reactions

Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and First Lady Michelle Obama are handling insensitivity in different ways. (Al Grillo/AP, Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Updated, 12:02 p.m. ET
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin isn't the only politician whose near and dear ones have been the butt of insensitive jokes. Michelle Obama was recently the subject of a racist comment made on Facebook by a Republican activist in South Carolina who compared the first lady to a gorilla, then said he meant it as a joke.

The first lady, however, didn't engage. While Palin turned David Letterman's admittedly tasteless joke about New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez "knock(ing) up" one of the Palin daughters into a full-throttled public feud, Mrs. Obama won't discuss the Facebook incident.

Prominent South Carolina Republican Rusty DePass sparked an uproar in the mainstream media and spiked his Facebook page after the blog Fitsnews outed DePass for writing on his Facebook page on Friday that an escaped gorilla from a Columbia, S.C., zoo was likely "just one of Michelle's ancestors -- probably harmless."

The first lady's office is not commenting on DePass's Facebook insult, or on his apology. ("I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest," DePass told WIS-TV in Columbia.)

Likewise, the White House press office has declined to comment on behalf of President Obama.

Palin issued a statement today accepting Letterman's apology "on behalf of all young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve."

On his "Late Show" last night, Letterman said, "I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception," Letterman said. "And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It's not your fault that it was misunderstood, it's my fault.... So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke."

What do you think, readers? Is the Letterman v. Palin case now closed?

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 16, 2009; 11:38 AM ET
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Well, Palin's persona in national politics is being a Victim. Ms Obama's is being First Lady.

Posted by: nodebris | June 16, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

To expand your analogy, if someone accused Malia or Sasha of looking like a gorilla in Facebook, I doubt that Michelle Obama wouldn't engage in demanding an apology.

Sarah Palin defended her children from the Letterman pottymouth remarks. That isn't a difficult thing to understand.

Posted by: mlemac | June 16, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Rmarks003 | June 16, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I can't recall David Letterman making jokes about knocking up his then girl friend. Maybe someone within his circle suggested that he be moral and marry the mother of his child. Until David is willing to make jokes about his own situation he should really keep his mouth shut....

Posted by: sandyyates | June 16, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

To compare The First Lady Michelle Obama to Gov. Sarah Palin is an "INSULT", to Michelle Obama. Gov. Palin is a JOKE, in every sense of the word. As far as her spat with Daivd Letterman, she has MILKED that cow for what it was worth, now she will move on. Now to the comment of Republican Rusty Depass. First of all being from South Carolina, I was not the least bit surprised to know that came out of his "STUPID FACE". All those RACIST Republicans from thier Governor Sanford to this Idiot Depass all wise this country was like it was the day before the LAST Civil War. Republican talking Heads can call people all kinds of names and throw insults, then HIDE behind the First Amendment, and the Media plays STUPID and look the other way. Gov. Palin has been using her Children for own Political Gain, all the while her DEVOTED SHEEP with the SCALES over their eyes, continue to play BLIND and STUPID.

Posted by: austininc4 | June 16, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Now Palin can be a voice in the state that leads the country in rape and sexual abuse of woman and children. She won't have to go far. She can see it from her window...its Alaska.
What's happening in Alaska is more serious than Letterman's joke.

ABC)Alaska leads the nation in reported forcible rapes per capita, according to the FBI, with a rate two and a half times the national average – a ranking it has held for many years. Children are no safer: Public safety experts believe that the prevalence of rape and sexual assault of minors in Alaska makes the state's record one of the worst in the U.S. And while solid statistics on domestic violence are hard to come by, most – including Gov. Palin – agree it is an "epidemic." Despite the governor's pro-family image, public safety experts and advocates for women and children struggled when asked to explain how Palin's leadership has helped address the crisis. And current and former officials from Palin's administration confirmed that an ambitious plan to tackle the crisis has apparently sunk into doldrums after arriving at the governor's office.

Posted by: MILLER123 | June 16, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

The thought that Palin was in any way at all "defending" her daughters is completely absurd. She clearly was using her daughters and exploiting them in order to garner more attention for herself. Calling Letterman a "pervert entertainer" for a joke that's just like a million others told in the last year at the exact point when she's starting to fall off the map is basically a bullhorn shout for attention. If she wanted to "protect" her daughters as that blind Fox-following poster wrote from a "pottymouth," then she should have operated behind the scenes. I didn't see the show and I haven't thought about Bristol Palin in 9 months, but because Sarah Palin is such an exploitive, desperate, no-pride fool, her daughter is being exploited in a weak attempt to restart Sarah Palin's career. Sarah Palin is clearly a horrible mother and these self-righteous attempts to trick us into thinking otherwise keep failing. So, let's be real clear about who the monster is here. Letterman was just doing his job; Sarah Palin seems to be an utter failure as a mother.

Posted by: Urnesto | June 16, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Shame on you. Why would you even put that dreadful woman's picture next to the First Lady's?

Posted by: JoeNTx | June 17, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Some of your comments about Sarah Palin are sick. Just becaue she stands up for what she believes and is not a slobbering liberal swallowing any left wing issue that comes down the pike, you can't stand her. David Letterman is scum (on TV). He may be a wonderful person personally, however, his persona projected on TV is totally ugly and demeaning to anyone. I wouldn't watch him if he were the last thing left on TV. Johnny Carson was a class act and never was crass or offended individuals or groups of people and Letterman was a very poor choice to follow him.

As for Mrs. Obama and her silence and his on the remark made by the crude person, I can't believe they haven't spoken about it. I would be outraged! Horrible comment.

Posted by: nancycrichton | June 17, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Re: First Lady Michelle Obama. Wow, South Carolina really makes the news in a BIG WAY. you go rusty depass.

Referring to what I said when self-proclaimed minister david james manning (Harlem) made his off the wall, oh so stupid self-composed statements that he titled "Obama's Mama," I compare depass to him by again repeating the quote from Forest Gump – "STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES."

That, to me, sums it up. Now depass is trying to pass his slur off as just a play on a comment that Mrs. Obama made. Apparently he thinks that everyone else also fits the "STUPID IS . . ." quote. Lately we have been really seeing it in action by people who are supposed to be our leaders and celebrities -- preachers, politicians, talk show hosts (Gov. Palin's daughter definitely did not deserve that slur from david letterman), etc.

Please stop trying to lead me please provide better entertainment. I'm not going to jump off that cliff just because you will.

What a country . . . a lot of us are going in that proverbial "hand basket."

Posted by: ShantiaKind | June 17, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Gorilla (gori la). [An alleged African name for a wild or hairy man (strictly for the female only), preserved in the Greek account of the voyage undertaken by the Carthaginian Hanno in the 5
th or 6th c. B. C.; hence adopted in 1847 as the specific name of the ape 'Troglodytes gorilla', first described by Dr. T. S. Savage, an American missionary in Western Africa.]
1853 R. OWEN in 'Trans. Zool. Soc.' ('title') Description of Cranium of an adult male gorilla.

Posted by: edtroyhampton | June 17, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Just focusing on rusty depass and david letterman, it is a shame that persons in such suppossedly esteemed positions can carry on with potty mess.

Rightfully Mrs. Obama, Mrs. Palin, her daughters should feel fully offended. Alex Rodriguez' name was also slurred.

One of the comments mentioned david letterman and his actions. I remember reading that he disliked having his private life publicized and slandered (maybe it was just something someone wrote, and he loved it), but still I notice that he goes out of his way to do the very thing that he shuns to others. When it involves your people and messing with their self esteem (for ratings and popularity) then I say something is really wrong with him -- his moral integrity especially.

I noticed in some of the comments that some are viewing Mrs. Palin and Mrs. Obama in different lights. Something must be wrong with scenario. They are BOTH human being with equal rights. According to rules ONLY ONE person at a time can be Governor of Alaska and ONLY ONE can be First Lady.

I am a South Carolina native, and we have been going through some things with sanford and now this thing with depass -- and as an American, this thing with david letterman.

depass and letterman are adults so they should have learned by now that being popular does not automatically guarantee respectibility.

Posted by: ShantiaKind | June 17, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

If you're offended by the DePass rascist remark, tell him yourself at (from the "People for Depass" website (

Posted by: leschatdeux | June 17, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Class vs Crass.

Posted by: trident420 | June 18, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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