Before Sarah Palin gave her speech at the Tea Party-affiliated “Restoring America” rally in Indianola, Iowa, Los Angeles-based comedian Eric Golub told a joke comparing liberals to “special needs children.” Palin’s youngest son, Trig, has Down Syndrome, and Palin has previously positioned herself as a staunch defender of children with special needs. In February of 2010, then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel used the word “retarded” to describe liberal groups considering running ads against Democratic lawmakers; Palin said he should be fired. When Fox News’s Family Guy later mocked Trig, Palin said it felt like a “a kick in the gut.”
But as CNN reports, after Golub’s remark, Palin was mum. Her defensive stance of children and individuals with disabilities is quite selective: When Rush Limbaugh used the “r-word” shortly after Emanuel did, Palin rose to Limbaugh’s defense.
A closer look at Golub’s remarks shows that there was a lot Palin could and should have questioned him about, if she genuinely wishes to be an advocate for individuals with disabilities:
After commending Palin on raising her son Trig while balancing other responsibilities, Golub made the analogy.
“For that reason alone, the left should worship Sarah Palin and adopt her as one of their own,” Golub said. “Because the leftist haters are an entire political ideology of special needs children.”
Golub continued by saying that liberals are needy and feel entitled.
“And unlike Trig, they aren’t very lovable,” Golub said. “All you hear from them is give me, give me, I need, I need, I want, I deserve, I’m entitled – no you don’t.”
With the exception of “lovable” Trig, Golub suggests that special needs children are not only “needy” but “needy” in special ways, such that they feel “entitled.” Being “special needs,” says Golub, is all about wanting and demanding and asking for handouts.
Golub’s also used his insulting characterization of individuals with disabilities at the 2010 convention for the conservative organization Young America’s Foundation. Certainly kids like Trig and my 14-year-old autistic son Charlie have more challenges than many children and do need services, specialized teaching and a little extra understanding. But parenting a child with disabilities transcends politics and political ideology. It’s a truism, but few besides other parents and teachers of special needs children, and individuals with disabilities themselves, truly grasp the challenges, sadness and joys of raising a child who’s different.
Parents of kids with disabilities often say that they have to be 24/7 advocates, always ready to stick their neck out to take care of their child. On Saturday, Palin apparently thought herself off-duty as an advocate and — foregoing her Mama Grizzly role — lost a good chance to take a stand on an issue that, she claims, is near and dear to her heart.
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Photo of Palin and her children in September 2008 by tgaume
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