Today we have a reality star running for president, so it should hardly be a surprise that a former elected politician is gunning for a reality show. Vice Presidential candidate and former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin—already a veteran of reality television with TLC’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska—has embarked on yet another reality television project. NBC News reports that while the program hasn’t yet been named, “Palin will do her best ‘Judge Judy,’ mediating and deciding cases brought before her fictional court.”
To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: Sarah, you’re no Judge Judy.
First of all, Judge Judy, whose real name is Judith Sheindlin, is an actual judge. I hate to be a stickler about the casting of reality shows but it seems to me that on a show featuring a judge, one should perhaps feature someone who has at least practiced law. Sarah Palin is not a lawyer nor has she studied the law.
Sheindlin, on the other hand, has quite the bonafides. According to her Wikipedia profile, she started practicing law in 1965, eventually prosecuting child abusers, wife beaters and juvenile criminals. In 1982, she was appointed as a criminal court judge and later promoted to supervising judge in Manhattan’s family court. Soon after, her television career took off and she has captivated American audiences for 20 years. CBS just extended her contract through 2020.
Judge Judy’s style is a bit like Republican front-runner and Palin favorite Donald Trump. Sheindlin doesn’t mince words. She’s bold and harsh and known for her common-sense rulings, which tend to be based as much on her gut reaction as the facts presented to her.
This no-nonsense style is likely what made television executives think Sarah Palin would make a good judge too. Palin’s folksy, aw shucks, prone-to-outrageous personality make her perfect for this format.
Yet, there’s something critical that Judge Judy has that Sarah doesn’t possess. And this “something” matters most when passing judgment on others: moral fortitude and clarity. Unlike Judge Judy, Sarah Palin and her family have been embroiled in a series of questionable incidents in the last several years. From reports that Palin and her family were involved in a “drunken brawl” at a house party to Palin’s flip comments about torture, to what many have described as Palin’s abandonment of the religious right and her conservative principles by endorsing moral nomad Donald Trump; many question her judgment now.
And then there’s the Palin family. Sarah’s daughter has now had two children outside of wedlock while serving as a spokesperson for an abstinence organization. You don’t have to be a Palin-hating, condom-distributing, liberal sex education teacher to find this troubling, if not hypocritical.
Yes, Palin’s daughter deserves credit for going through with both pregnancies, especially when she knew she’d face abuse from those who love to poke fun at her family. Yet the fact remains, people are uncomfortable with moralizing platitudes coming from people who can’t seem to take the advice they dole out.
Palin’s son has also had recent troubles. Track Palin was arrested and charged in a domestic violence case earlier this year. Court documents reveal that his girlfriend said he punched her in the head and threatened to fire a rifle. According to one media report on the incident, Track’s girlfriend “told police that she was afraid he was going to shoot himself with an assault rifle after he punched her in the eye and kicked her in the knee during a drunken argument.”
And now consider how Sarah Palin reacted to her son’s arrest. Did she issue a statement voicing her concern for her son and his girlfriend? Did she say the family is dealing with this privately? Did she offer an insight into Track’s violent outburst? No. Instead, Palin offered a rambling statement blaming President Obama and only mentioning Track’s PTSD (Track served a year in Iraq) in reference to Obama not caring about it. How’s that for taking responsibility for one’s actions, which is a popular theme that runs through Judge Judy’s show?
Perhaps on Sarah Palin’s courtroom reality show, people will be told to deflect, blame others, and refuse to apologize, act hypocritically and do things that only serve themselves. That would certainly be a fresh take on a tired format.
Instead, Palin should reconsider this latest fame-seeking move. Perhaps she should consider some advice from Judge Judy who titled her book “Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining.” Translation to would-be Judge Palin: Don’t conduct yourself abysmally and then set yourself up to judge others’ conduct.