Yes, Bristol Palin is a Valid Political News Story

2 September, 2008

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama has, to his credit, refused to answer questions about the unplanned pregnancy of BristolPalin.  I disagree with his stand, though.

A President’s (or Presidential candidate’s) family should, in most circumstances, be off limits.  Same goes for the family of the Vice President (candidate).  In most circumstances. 

What circumstances would make it acceptable for the press to delve deeply into the personal peccadilloes of the candidate’s family?  If the misbehaviour sheds light on the decision making abilities and/or judgement of the candidate.  I see three ways in which the behaviour of Sarah Palin’s daughter make me question whether Briton’s mother should be within a 72-year-old heartbeat of the Presidency of the most powerful nation on earth.

1.  Education:  Sarah Palin’s public statements, and policy statements during her run for the governorship of Alaska, show her to be pro-ignorance:

    Will you support the right of parents to opt out their children from curricula, books, classes, or surveys, which parents consider privacy-invading or offensive to their religion or conscience?Why or why not?
    SP: Yes. Parents should have the ultimate control over what their children are taught.
    Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?
    SP: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support. (HT Phayngula for the quotes)

She is anti-education.  The ‘opt-out’ has become a right-wing conservative mantra, allowing parents to pull their children out of any class which might teach something that the parents do not want their children to know about.  Evolution, sex education (the real stuff, not the abstinence-only kind), math (apparently set theory and the trinity are not compatible), history (we are not, and never were, a Christian nation), psychology, and even particular books in English class (Catcher in the Rye, Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, to name just a few).  She strongly supports abstinence-until-marriage and abstinence-only sex education, despite numerous studies which show that it actually increases the pregnancy rate without affecting the sexual activity rates.

Her willful ignorance, and support of ignorance, show that her approach to reality is faith-based.  Facts do not matter, only her belief system (which, apparently, is so weak that a few facts pose an intolerable danger) does.

Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is merely a manifestation of the faith-based ignorance of Sarah Palin.

2.  Governing Ability:  Some weeks back, during an interview with Barack Obama, his children decided that they wanted to ask some questions.  Many right-wing religious leaders and bloggers went ballistic:  “If he can’t rule his own house, how does he expect to rule the country?”

Sarah Palin belongs to a rather conservative church.  In the same way that Dick Cheney is rather unpleasant – that is, very.  Her church subscribes to the idea that God rules man, man rules woman and child.  Well, apparently, she and her husband don’t do a very good job ‘ruling’ their own house.  How else would her 17-year-old minor daughter end up a little bit preggers?

The idea that ‘ruling’ your house, or ‘ruling’ the country, is acceptable the problem here.  Families are not dictatorships (or, well, happy families aren’t).  They are social constructs which must allow for give and take, and growth of the individual within that construct.  Running a house is like running a government — budget, facilities management, income and expenses, personality conflicts, setting priorities — and balancing all of these different jobs requires give-and-take, not authoritarianism.

For the past thirty some odd years, we have been, in the United States, under the sway of authoritarians.  People like Reagan and the Bushes (and to a certain extent Clinton (especially after Gingrich took over)) have attempted to rule the country rather than governing the country.  The results?  Massive debt, rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, middle class stagnation, cost of education going up, health care availability dropping, deregulation, environmental degradation.  All rammed down our throats by people who want to rule the country rather than govern it.

Sarah Palin, if she ascended to the Presidency, would fit right into the mould of authoritarianist ruler, not a governor.  She cannot govern her own family because she and her husband tried to rule her own family.  It does not work.

3.  Blatant Hypocrisy:  Sarah Palin has gushed about how happy she is that her daughter has chosen to have the baby.  McAin’t has echoed this.  Neither has noticed the blatant ironic hypocrisy:  she has the right, under our current laws (based upon Roe v. Wade) to make that choice.

Sarah Palin is strongly against abortion in any way or form.  She is pro-uterine-slavery.  Unabashedly.  She wants to deny women throughout America the right to make the choice her daughter made.  She wants to overturn Roe v. Wadeand remove that decision from her daughter (or anyone’s daughter) and place it in the hands of the state.

I remember feeling very uncomfortable about the treatment of Amy Carter back in the late seventies.  I remember the flack that Ron Reagan got because he disagreed with Saint Ronald.  I remember Limbaugh (and many others) stating that the Clintons are bad because Chelsea is ugly.  I remember McAin’t making jokes about Chelsea in a very public arena.  The attacks on Amy and Chelsea were absolutely uncalled for — there was no attempt to connect the girls to the policies of the administrations.  Ron Reagan’s may have been valid, but no one discussed what he actually said;  they only discussed the disagreement.

Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, in and of itself, should be left alone.  The only way that this is a valid news story, or a valid political story, is in the way that it focuses the nation’s attention on the dangerous and hypocritical policies of her mother, the candidate.  Briton Palin’s pregnancy focuses attention on her mother’s pro-ignorance approach to education:  opting out and abstinence only.  Her pregnancy focuses attention on her mother’s lack of ability as a leader, as an inspirational leader, and as a governor of the family — ruling a family (or a state, or a nation) does not work, but governing does.  Her pregnancy also focuses attention on the anti-choice stand of her mother — her mother who praised her daughter’s choice while, at the same time, working to deny that choice for all Americans.  A mother who contributes to her daughter’s unwed pregnancy, cannot work with her family, and is blatantly hypocritical is not what we need as a Vice President and possibly President.  She would make Bush II look good.

Two Hour Later Addendum:  On CNN, a quote from McAin’t regarding the vetting process for Palin:  “The vetting process was complete and thorough and I am happy with the results.”  Thus bringing into question McAin’t’s decision making process.

Five Hour Later Addendum:  Thank you, Poodles.  I have no idea why I screwed up the name.



  1. Gonna call you Slamming Billy from now on. Good post.

  2. Ric: My wife has used that phrase, but, well, slightly different (no, completely different) context.

    Thanks for the compliment.

  3. I’m not sure I wanted to know that….

  4. Yes, great post. What a grim woman. A scary prospect that she could accidentally become a president who may even dumber than Bush.

    A great example of the real outcomes of her stupid social ideas, though.

  5. Heather: It won’t be an accident. McAin’t’s Rovian minions know that he will most likely not survive four years. She is a Trojan horse to sneek someone into the oval office who is even more Christian and more conservative than W. How’s that for cheerful?

  6. *fingers in ears* TMI.

    And just a small FYI, it’s Bristol Palin.

  7. Thank you, Poodles. Corrected. Brain glitch on my part. It happens when you get old. Just wait, Poodles, it will happen to you, too. Someday.


  8. (((Billy)))

    I mostly forget everything, and if I hadn’t just been trying to find the “baby daddy”‘s myspace page I might not have noticed.

    Oh, and I bet I am not much younger than you are.


  9. Poodles: I have two teenage kids. Chronological years are multiplies by teenage years. I feel older than the Grumpy Lion sometimes.

  10. Is it me, or does she not seem like she’s from the back hills of Arkansas. If she became president because McAin’t (LOVE THAT) died, it’d throw us back a hundred years.

  11. Vamp: Careful. I both (((Wife))) and I were born south of the Mason-Dixon line and we have lived in West Virginia (like Arkansas, but a higher percentage of the cars actually run).

    I’m glad you like McAin’t. Hasn’t caught on over here on this side of the pond. My nickname for Palin? ApPalin’.

    Yeah. I know. Stay away from the humour.

  12. I was born in Sumter, South Carolina…sorry. My mother is from Yorkshire and dad from Minnesota.

  13. Sorry, (and I say this as a true blue progressive from Virginia), Bristol Palin is OFF limits. The greatest mothers and fathers, that taught sex education and free thinking, might end up with a pregnant teenager. I know this from experience..you may have one kid that gets scholarships to Ivy League schools while your other daughter is stuck at home raising her baby. But…and this is a big but…experience and the vetting process are on the table. As well as ideology, government scandals and examples of abuses of power. By all means, bring up her excessive Christian theocracy calling, her Alaskan separatist movement, trooper gate, and her 27 million dollars in earmarks as a mayor, but not her daughter.

  14. I suppose it is probably true that kids age you faster than dogs. 😀

  15. Sabrina: I agree that Bristol Palin herself is off limits. Her pregnancy, though, highlights the dangerous right wing tendencies of her mother. Her mother is anti-education, anti-governing and anti-choice. Sarah Palin’s daughter is a victim of her mother’s radical Christian right politics.

  16. Sabrina –

    Other than the mad dogs on the left (we have them, same as the right) I doubt any of the criticisms out there are aimed at the daughter. She’s really a nonentity in the political discussions.

  17. Poor Bristol. Have any of y’all seeing the bad news coming out about the boyfriend? High school dropout who brags about being a “f***ing redneck” and has stated vehemently he doesn’t want kids. That’s going to be a real happy marriage. The way Sarah Palin has used her kids to further her own ambitions is inexcusable. 17 is such a hard age to begin with, and then to be dragged through the media spotlight and to end up on the cover of supermarket tabloids. . .

  18. Ric: Well phrased. Thanks. It is almost as if you were a writer or sumpin’.

    Nan: I’ve seen some of the news. For a ‘fucking redneck’ who doesn’t want kids, he’s doing it wrong. One report said that he already has another kid by another girl. How soon before Bristol ends up in the ER with a broken jaw?

    Don’t you just love the way that politicians use their kids to help their political ambitions and then as soon as the press actually starts to look at who the kids are and what they have done, they are suddenly off limits. I think that the kids should be off limits no matter how much mom & dad use them except when the actions and/or statements of the children bring into sharper focus the politics of the parents.

  19. While I agree that Bristol Palin is off limits (after all we don’t want to stoop to the level of Republican attacks on Chelsea Clinton that started even before Bill was elected) I think (((Billy))) and others have made an excellent point that this simply highlights the hypocrisy of Palin’s positions. She’s ended up with a pregnant, unmarried teenage daughter–something she claims her own policies will prevent.
    This also highlights just how far the GOP can spin. As someone else pointed out to me, if Obama had a teenage daughter who got pregnant out of wedlock her husband-to-be would not take the stage and be applauded at the Democratic National Convention. And yet the GOP is treating being young and irresponsible as though it’s something to be celebrated.

  20. Chris: Then again, if they were Democrats, McAin’t and ApPalin would never have gotten this close to the nomination. The (so-called) liberal press would have knocked them out of the race based on incompetence and lunacy real early on.

  21. Billy-I completely forgot. See, the past eight years have made me assume the Democrats are at least as incompetent as Republicans, just not as good at hiding it. Now I actually have (dare I say it?) hope things might actually change–especially since Republicans are so desperate they’ve tried to claim “hope” is a dirty word.

  22. No it is not a valid story. The Wives and Daughters and Husbands and Sons and Brothers and Sisters of a national figure have nothing to do with that figures ability to lead the nation in this time of extreme crisis. Republicans have NEVER< EVER, gone into the private life of Democrat figures. The private life of Shrillary and her Daughter were off limits. The private life of the Carter family were off limits. This is disgusting that you, and the rest of your left wing ilk would drag poor Briton through the mud for something that her Mother and Father had NOTHING TO DO WITH IT! To claim that the occasional mention of the Clintons or the Carters or the Gores by mainstream figures such as Rush Limbaugh or the great newscaster Bill O’Reilly justifies the virtual crucifiction of this young girl just to make a political point shows just how totalitarina the extreme left wing such as you’re self are when compared to actual Americans. Sarah Palin’s mainstream politics have nothing, NOTHING, to do with her Daughter who made a mistake but with her loving fiance will become one with the Lord in His eyes. Leave her alone.

  23. Actually, …, the vast majority of this post focuses on the policies and views of Palin. Her views on sex education and the interaction with her family speak volumes about the way she will try to lead. I’ll agree, Bristol should be off limits. The pregnancy is a serious issue though.

    Your last could lines lead me to believe that you’ve ignored the point of this entire post and the comments. Palin does not represent mainstream politics. She represents a small subset of views that are outdated, backwards, and harmful to those around her. These views are directly reflected by the actions of her daughter, and that’s why the pregnancy is a relevant issue.

    At 17 and 18 these two are hardly marriage material (and yet somehow this marriage is more “worthy” than a gay marriage?) and are not ready for children. Becoming one with the lord is irrelevant and (considering the crowd here) completely irrelevant to us atheists.

    Teenagers will make bad decisions, some will get pregnant, but to continue to deny them information about their bodies and the information to make smart decisions is more than a disservice. The result is what you now see.

  24. Thank you Tungtide, but I think it’s also important to point out that, “Republicans have NEVER< EVER, gone into the private life of Democrat figures” is a demonstrably false statement. If the prosecution and impeachment of President Clinton for having an affair wasn’t Republicans going into the private life of someone, what is? If the attacks by Limbaugh, O’Reilly, et al on John Edwards for having an affair isn’t going into the private life of someone, what is? And let’s not overlook the fact that Sarah Palin herself parades her children before the press, using them as campaign props when it’s convenient. She only declares her family “off limits” when she has a problem with what’s being said about her children–even if what’s being reported are facts.
    The anonymous poster above didn’t just fail to read the post. They’ve failed to look at the actual facts of the matter. Please spare us a lot of high and mighty talk about the “Lord” when you can’t be truthful yourself.

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