David Letterman's multiple affairs are attracting attention since he reported being blackmailed about one of them. But his stance towards marriage, his son's mother, and family life were already red flags that he disrespected his son's mother. This seems strange since Letterman regularly punctures public figures for violating traditional moral standards and sexual mores, and since he makes fun of the Palin family as white trash.

The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, October 5, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

So David Letterman thinks Sarah Palin is white trash?

David Letterman only got around to marrying his five-year-old son's mother, Regina Lasko, this year. What's up with that?

Levi Johnston hadn't married Bristol Palin, even though she had their baby. But Levi Johnston was only a kid having sex for fun and had no means of supporting a family. David Letterman, who is now 62, was in a long-term relationship and presumably knew about birth control. He has been able to support a wife and child for some time.

Who's accusing who of being white trash? Letterman joked that Sarah Palin, then Alaska's governor, had the style of a "slutty flight attendant" and commented that, while attending a Yankees game, "during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."

Why does a man in his late fifties have a baby out of wedlock when he is living with the mother? Most parents figure their child will appreciate their being married - that it avoids needless embarrassment from the kid's schoolmates down the road.

David Letterman is obviously a picky man. He may have thought: "Well, I just don't love her enough to marry her - even though she bore my child. Maybe I'll change my mind."

Letterman bragged about not marrying Lasko for over 20 years, until well after she mothered his child: "I had avoided getting married pretty good for, like, 23 years. I secretly felt that men who were married admired me - like I was the last of the real gunslingers."

But it turns out he wasn't just reluctant to get married. He was actively dating other women, some of whom were close to Bristol's age and worked for him. This certainly puts Letterman's sex joke about the younger Palin and Alex Rodriguez in a different light.

Here are five questions I'd like to ask Mr. Letterman:

  • Why did you wait until your child was five to marry his mother?
  • Did you have an open relationship with Ms. Lasko - that is, were you each (or were only you) allowed to have other affairs?
  • How did you arrange these affairs - did you live with Ms. Lasko but spend nights out with other women, or did you sneak around?
  • Did you continue in this open arrangement even after Ms. Lasko became pregnant with (or gave birth to) your child?
  • How did you describe your relationship with Ms. Lasko to your young lovers?

I wonder what all of his show's guests and admirers think about these things. And I wonder - assuming she's an equal partner in the marriage - whether we will hear from Lasko about her huband's perambulations. If we don't hear from her, why won't she speak? If she does speak, do you think she's as equally enthusiastic about Dave's intern train as he is?

For his more vocal part, when it comes to marriage, Letterman thumbs his nose at conventional values and popular opinion. This is especially notable since he is famous for not only joking - but moralistically hectoring - people like South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford for having public affairs. "What was he thinking about his four sons?"

At a minimum, Letterman is going to be at a loss for material when the next political sex scandal comes down the pike. And how will he be able to mock Madonna for her libertine lifestyle from now on?

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