Palin Taking Heat For Defense Of Dr. Laura

Sarah Palin's decision to jump to the defense of "Doctor" Laura Schlessinger has many Republicans confused as to what her plans for the future are.

As I noted earlier this week, Sarah Palin decided for some reason to step into the minor controversy surrounding “Doctor” Laura Schlessinger’s use of the n-word on her radio show via a few statements on her Twitter page. Palin followed those tweets up a day later with a somewhat odd rant on her Facebook page in which she used the occasion of this controversy to claim that, like “Doctor” Laura, she too has been “shackled” by critics:

Adversaries who have been trying to silence Dr. Laura for years seized on her recent use of the n-word on her show as she subsequently suggested that rap “artists” and other creative types like those producing HBO shows who regularly use the n-word could be questioned for doing so. Her intention in discussing the issue with a caller seeking advice was not to be hateful or bigoted. Though she did not mean to insult the caller, she did, and she apologized for it. Still, those who oppose her seized upon her mistake in using the word (though she didn’t call anyone the derogatory term) to paint her as something that she’s not. I can understand how she could feel “shackled” by those who would parse a single word out of decades of on-air commentary. I understand what she meant when she declared that she was “taking back my First Amendment rights” by turning to a new venue that will not allow others the ability to silence her by going after her stations, sponsors, and supporters.

I, and obviously many others, have been “shackled” too by people who play games with false accusations, threats, frivolous lawsuits, misreporting, etc., in an effort to silence those with whom they disagree. That’s why I tend to defend people who call it like they see it while others stop at nothing to shut them up. I learned this valuable lesson when the partisan obstructionists in my state tried to shackle, bankrupt, and destroy my family and supporters, and my record, with endless frivolous litigation when I returned from the Vice Presidential campaign trail. In order to shake off the shackles they wanted to paralyze us with, I handed the reins to another, much like Dr. Laura is doing, so that these obstructionists who hated a Commonsense Conservative agenda wouldn’t win. I didn’t retreat; I reloaded in order to fight for what is right on a fairer battlefield. So, more power to someone with good intentions who refuses to be shackled by their detractors when they are falsely accused of being racist.

As I said in my earlier post, Palin has a rather odd idea of what “free speech” actually is, since she seems to believe that it means that one ought to have a right to speak without being criticized by others. It’s not her Constitutional analysis that’s making news now, however, but the fact that some Republicans aren’t entirely thrilled with the idea of her jumping to the Schlessinger’s defense when she didn’t really have to:

The few black conservative candidates, columnists, and media figures—who represent the GOP’s only hope for reclaiming the legacy of Lincoln and, with it, long-term demographic relevance—are not amused. They’re now saying what many in the GOP increasingly believe: Sarah Palin is not fit to be a serious leader of the Republican Party.

I spoke to Michel Faulkner, the former NFL player and Harlem preacher challenging Charlie Rangel for a House seat, and he was unsparing in his criticism: “Why Sarah Palin feels she needs to join in to Dr. Laura’s personal meltdown is beyond me. She’s sounding like she just likes to hear her own voice—and the voice that she has is no longer credible. It says that a leading voice among conservatives has joined the ranks of the entertainers—trying to shock us each day with more and more outlandish commentary. And at that moment that person is no longer fit to lead.”

“The constitutional stuff she’s saying doesn’t even make any sense,” Faulkner said. “She doesn’t know what real shackles are… But ‘don’t retreat, reload?’ Lady, are you kidding me? That is scary language in anyone’s terminology. Sarah Palin scares me.”

Nationally syndicated conservative columnist Deroy Murdock took an even stronger line. “Sarah Palin’s tweets resemble something scribbled by a ninth-grade cheerleader. Is it asking too much for a reputed American political leader to communicate in complete sentences? Palin’s gravitas gap is growing into the Gravitas Canyon,” said the media fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. “Even worse, she deploys her vacuity to defend an acerbic talk-show host who just detonated herself by tossing around the word ‘nigger’ on the air 11 times, as if it were a volleyball. The American right can do better than this. And it must.”

And, Joe Hicks at PJTV hit Palin even harder:

“When I first heard this stuff, what came across was an extremely lame white chick trying to school this other woman about the N-word. … So I’m certainly not one to try and defend Dr. Laura. She has a history of being a negative and nasty persona. But Sarah Palin’s comments? Well, this is confusing stuff coming out of a woman who would have been the vice president if McCain had won. … Palin seems to be as equally detached from the real world where people operate and where race is a really volatile topic.”

“First Amendment rights? Of course. But [Dr. Laura] wasn’t fired—she decided to drop her show. So I’m not exactly understanding what Sarah Palin’s understanding of the Constitution is here. And it isn’t completely out of character, which is very unfortunate. She keeps dropping this bizarre stuff,” Hicks said. “It says this woman really has no larger vision of what she is trying to do in a political sense—there’s a pretty narrow intellect at work here … Attempting to defend the indefensible is just kind of insulting.”

When Palin does stuff like this, the inevitable question is why ? If one were seriously considering a run for the Presidency at this point, it certainly does seem that doing things like calling attention to yourself by defending a woman who made stupid, demeaning remarks that she already apologized for isn’t the smartest thing to do, especially for a politician with reputation for saying odd things already. So, perhaps, this is a sign that Palin really isn’t interested in running for President. After all, relaxing in beautiful Alaska while sending out tweets and Facebook messages, and occasionally venturing south to collect huge speaking fees or go on book tours sounds like a pretty good life doesn’t it ? And, it doesn’t require that you, well, actually take responsibility for anything.

FILED UNDER: The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. anjin-san says:

    Palin likes attention, which can be leveraged into cash. I don’t think she cares how she gets it.

  2. Eric Florack says:

    Let’s face it: There are those will will give Palin grief for simply existing.

  3. Herb says:

    “There are those will will give Palin grief for simply existing”

    Sure, and they’d be wrong. But to give her grief for doing stupid stuff…..wholly deserved.

  4. Rick says:

    This idea that people are out to get Sarah is just ridiculous, and the only people who would entertain such an idea are clearly incapable of thinking clearly, much like Sarah herself. She gets called out because she keeps coming forward with nothing but rants and meaningless slogans. If she would keep her opinions to herself until they were at least half baked, I am guessing she would gain more of the attention and even respect that she so desperately craves. Not all people on the political right are this shallow and ignorant. Maybe she should listen more, talk less. I, for one, would be greatly relieved.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    There’s no mystery here. Palin is an idiot. Yes, she’s capable of making a nice living, but that doesn’t mean she’s not an idiot. Paris Hilton, The Situation and Snookie make nice livings as idiots. In fact, the job of idiot seems to be recession-proof.

    Palin has no idea what she’s talking about. She has no understanding of the Constitution or history or policy or anything al all.

    She’s. An. Idiot.

    The bigger tragedy is what this says about John McCain who out of sheer ambition and lust for position might have ended up putting this idiot in the White House. Those of you who voted for McCain, think long and hard about that. What it says about this once-great man, what it says about the vacuity of your party, and what it says about your own judgment.

  6. DC Loser says:

    GOP slogan 2012 – Sarah Palin STFU.

  7. reid says:

    Joe Hicks seems to be suggesting that if “Dr.” Laura was fired, then it might be a first amendment rights issue. He’s right for the most part, but maybe he doesn’t quite get it either.

    The “9th grade cheerleader” bit is spot-on.

  8. Boyd says:

    Wow, lots of reasoned, thoughtful ad hominem here in the comments. Nothing new there, of course.

    And Doug, you don’t understand why Palin does these things because you’re not her target demographic. She’s targeting her “base,” and doing a damn fine job of it.

    Now, whether that’s going to accomplish whatever it is she wants to accomplish is a different question, one that we can’t answer since we don’t really know what that is.

  9. Betty Price says:

    Sarah Palin had rather be standing in front of a camera on TV than home being a grizzly mom taking care of her baby that needs her much more than the people of America does.


  10. reid says:

    Boyd, the fact that Palin’s “base” apparently likes to be fed blatantly-wrong idiocy like this is why I’m a democrat now. What intelligent person isn’t insulted by it? How do YOU feel about Palin?

  11. The mistake you’re making is trying to interpret the meaning of Palin’s words. There is no meaning to be found, as he speech is almost always entirely pre-symbolic in nature. The real message here is the same message as everything she says:

    1. I’m a member of your tribe
    2. Our tribe is under attack by the other tribe.
    3. Back me and I’ll make the other tribe suffer.

    Looking for any meaning or principle beyond that is a complete waste of time as her arguments are purely situational. Last week she’s telling us we have to worry about whether or not we’re being sensitive and should not build a mosque if it could kinda sorta maybe vaguely imply and insult to people. This week we need to defend screaming racial slurs at people because we shouldn’t let our expression be hampered by the sensitive of others. Next week she’ll take a completely different view yet again depending on what her tribe needs at the momment.

  12. Boyd says:

    What, I’m too coy for you, reid? 🙂

    I don’t really feel my opinion is relevant. We’re commenting on what Mrs Palin is doing and why she’s doing it, and maybe whether she’ll succeed at…well, whatever it is she’s trying to achieve. Whether I want her to sit down and shut up or run for President in 2012 is hugely immaterial.

  13. Herb says:

    “And Doug, you don’t understand why Palin does these things because you’re not her target demographic. She’s targeting her “base,” and doing a damn fine job of it.”

    I take issue with the idea that understanding Palin is somehow impossible unless you’re part of her base.

    Indeed, I think it’s her base who doesn’t understand her at all. If they did, they’d run….

  14. ALP says:

    Are all terms used to describe persons derogatory? I believe in the context of the term, it can be.
    If you say to someone, “that was a stupid thing to do”, are you calling him Stupid? We seem today to be so ready to defame someone without looking at the context of what they say. I am not defending Dr. Laura, I think she could have framed her comments better. If you disagree with Ms. Palins’ political views, are you a Bigot? (look up the term). I think that today too many groups of peoples, both ethnic and political wish to separate themselves from being Americans first. This is not what this country was founded upon. It was the idea of our founders that all people should have the opportunity and freedom to individually rise to their greatest abilities. Sadly this is not the case today. There are some groups with great powers that wish only to force their ideas and concepts on the great majority of the American people against their will. Men are not defined by their color, race, religion, or ethnicity, but by their character. Your character is pretty poor if you only denigrate someone who disagrees with your ideas or perceptions.

  15. john personna says:

    I like the scare quotes on “artists.”

  16. Eric Florack says:

    Your honor, the defense rests….

  17. john personna says:

    You should get that tin ear checked, Eric.

  18. sam says:


    “Your honor, the defense rests….”

    Don’t you have a widely unread website to attend to?

  19. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sam, what are you going to do when Palin is elected President of the United States? Most all of you here think it is ok for Muslims to build a Mosque on a site 70% of us think in not the place to build it. Offends our senitivities. Somehow Dr. Laura using a word commonly used among African Americans but somehow forbidden to everyone else does not seem to equate. Freedom for those with whom you agree but none for those with whom you do not. Progressives? Is that indicative of progression toward tyranny? Surely that cannot be seen as freedom. All Dr. Laura did was point out the hypocracy of it being OK for blacks to use the term nigg** yet it is offesive if others use it. I get it. Freedom for thee but none for me. I know why I never see any of your comments anywhere else. The BS published here would be laughed off the blog.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    “Your honor, the defense rests. ”

    I don’t know, is that funny or sad?

    Delusional types always seem to dance right on the edge between tragedy and comedy. A couple of drinks from now and I’ll be feeling sorry for Eric and Zels and the others with their invincible stupidity. You can see why Ignatius J. Reilly is such a great character.

    I should write more adult character-driven stuff and stop writing for kids.


  21. John says:

    Never go full retard Sarah.

  22. G.A.Phillips says:

    **Paris Hilton, The Situation and Snooki make nice livings as idiots. In fact, the job of idiot seems to be recession-proof.***lol, to bad the stimulus package was so brilliant, hey?

  23. Tano says:

    “I get it. Freedom for thee but none for me.”

    You clearly do not get it. As has been stated many times by many people, “Dr.” Laura was not arrested. She did not forfeit her freedom or her property. She was not even fired from her private employment. She was criticized – y’know, that freedom of speech thingy being exercised by others… And then she chose to retire.

    Apparently your concept of freedom is that your allies can say whatever they want, and no one can respond critically. It don’t work that way….

  24. john personna says:

    It’s really interesting that the right wing has descended into the kind of post-modernism that its intellectual giants once despised. The right once defended the idea of an objective truth, and rejected moral relativism in all it guises.

    Now, any position is as valid as any other, if it comes from someone known to be a right-thinker.

    Schlessinger tried for a possibly good point (extrapolating where she might have been heading) but made it badly. Her post-modernist defense was that her argument was good, because she had a right to voice it. Palin apparently hopped on board because she is also wary of the careful parsing of arguments in a public forum.

    It’s post-modernist free speech!

  25. john personna says:

    Another word to describe “this argument is good, because it’s mine” would be “infantile.”

  26. An Interested Party says:

    “Sam, what are you going to do when Palin is elected President of the United States?”

    Speaking of BS that would be laughed off of blogs…

  27. anjin-san says:

    > the only people who would entertain such an idea are clearly incapable of thinking clearly

    I see you have met bithead

  28. sam says:

    @Zels (@his best)

    “Sam, what are you going to do when Palin is elected President of the United States?”

    I’m going to find the nearest fvcking white rabbit and ask him how I can get the hell out of this loonyverse.