Dog Bites Man: University Scraps Bristol Palin Appearance

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 28 2011 10:34 AM

Dog Bites Man: University Scraps Bristol Palin Appearance

I am very, very reticent to write much about Sarah Palin's family. The slapstick mess at Washington University is worth a mention, though -- a who-didn't-see-this-coming clash between Palin's celebrity and values at a liberal arts college. The school's student health advisory center had shelled out $20,000 to bring Palin to campus for an event on abstinence. Speaking about abstinence is, of course, Palin's job.

This stuff happens all the time on campuses. I spent one mildly happy year on my college's student government, and the scandal of the time was a massive fee that the arts council wanted to pay a guest at an annual concert. It was the pre-Facebook era (2001), so petitions were signed on paper and delivered to a student council that struck some of the funding. Bristol Palin wasn't involved (true, she was 11 at the time), so there was no great media attention. But the dispute would never have gone large if it wasn't for the fee. That was Palin's problem; $20,000 is a fairly ridiculous amount to ask for an appearance on a panel.

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The St. Louis paper reports that Palin agreed to back out:

Scott Elman, president of the advisory committee, said thedecision to halt Palin's appearance as a keynote speaker was "100percent mutual" between Palin and the committee. Elman added thathe was very disappointed that students weren't more open to havingPalin speak.

And the "Days Since a Palin Circus" sign goes back to "0."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.