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Michelle Turnberg, Published September 25 2011

Turnberg: Time-out for Palin ‘scandal’

Interesting stories in the past week:

The two hikers were released from an Iranian prison, Eleanor Mondale died after her battle with cancer, and the Bison again took on the Gophers in football. But what is getting the most buzz on the Inforum website? Sarah Palin and her alleged fling with NBA player Glen Rice.

This isn’t about politics. The only person who knows how I feel about Sarah Palin watched the 2008 vice presidential debate with me. What gets my attention is what gets other people’s attention.

The story suggests Palin met Rice while covering a basketball tournament in Anchorage. She was single, just out of college, and a fledgling sports reporter; he was a University of Michigan standout. Both went on to great things in their careers; he played in the NBA, and she became a household name in politics.

The scandal in all of this escapes me. Why do we care about what happened between two single people more than two decades ago? Had the supposed tryst happened while she was married and in public office, that would be another matter. But we’re talking 1987.

Society routinely focuses on salacious issues to impeach our leaders’ collective character. Palin’s dalliances of yesteryear ought to be subject to a statute of limitations, just as our own youthful indiscretions ought to be forgivable after the passage of time. More grizzled details about Palin will soon be exposed in a tell-all book, which I expect will be a best-seller. Nearly all of us would struggle to stand up to that kind of scrutiny.

Palin is charismatic, tough and intriguing. She is a polarizing political figure. Some news reports suggest the “scandal” may jeopardize her political aspirations. Time will tell, but it seems we ought to be having discussions about her current achievements and failures as they relate to her ability to serve in public office. For the sake of fairness, there needs to be a reasonable time limit in applying such harsh scrutiny to the early lives of public figures.

Turnberg writes a Sunday column for The Forum. Email michelleturnberg@gmail.com.