I'm just going to post some random thoughts about Sarah Palin and all that is roiling around her. I've been thinking a lot these past few days about her nomination, her family, her choices, her policies, her political views and, finally, last night, her speech. I've had quite a few ideas. Slow cogitator that I am though, others have beaten me to the punch in posting observations that are in line with my thoughts. Pundit Mom has a couple of good posts on Palin (I'm just linking to her general website, since there are multiple relevant posts. . .you'll just have to, and I know this is cruel of me to ask it, scroll down and find the articles yourselves.). MojoMom's "Give me a Constitutional law prof any day" beautifully dissects a couple of the troubling parts (would that there were only 1 or 2 troubling parts) of Palin's speech last night.
1. We should all have sympathy for Bristol. Not because she's a pregnant teenager (could and has happened to countless others), but because she has been thrust into a media spotlight not of her own making. And one way or another, she's going to end up being used as a pawn in the campaign--directly or obliquely, by one side or the other or both. We can question Sarah Palin's bona fides as a parent for either (a) naively not thinking this would affect her daughter or her candidacy much or (b) ruthlessly using her for her own practical and/or idealogical ends. I'm not talking mommy wars, here, I'm not talking about ambitious working mothers--I'm talking about protecting ones children while one can. Unless she herself did not know of her daughter's pregnancy until after the nomination (which, whatever anyone says, is possible--kids are really good at hiding things when they want to), I have to question her judgment in thrusting Bristol front and center. She may say she discussed the ramifications thoroughly with Bristol, but how equipped is any 17-year-old to really understand what she would be getting into? Coupled with her young age (yes, old enough to have a child, I know. . .), she does not exactly come from a long line of national or even state politicians--she has no real frame of reference from which to make an informed decision as to whether and how this would affect her. Assuming mom truly asked for her input.
Also--even if mom did sincerely ask and listen to her daughter, how many 17-year olds are strong enough to tell a parent not to run for vice-president if she didn't want that parent to do so. It is likely though--being raised by her mom and with the values her mom instilled, Bristol would have freely said go ahead--and that again, is where we get into her youth and inexperience. Because even if Bristol was all gung-ho about her mom's candidacy, was she really the best person to judge for herself what the effects would be on her life? Lest anyone accuse me of being unduly paternalistic (or maternalistic, if you prefer), let me remind you that Bristol is still a child, and a little paternal/maternalistic oversight might be just what she needs. (I'm not talking about the pregnancy, nor am I blaming it on a lack of parental oversight, I'm talking about how her mom's candidacy will affect her life--probably long after the spotlight has moved on to someone else).
2. While many Democrats have been both incredulous and gleeful over the news that Bristol is pregnant, thinking it sounds the death knell for Palin's candidacy and possibly showcasing McCain's oft-discussed impetuousness, I'm not so sure that the Republican's didn't get it right (disturbingly right)--from their perspective, that is. In reading a lot of comments by Joe and Josie Q. Public--I've found not outrage or despair or anger or disappointment, but rather support for Palin and McCain. This has humanized Palin to a lot of "regular" folks. "It could happen to anyone" is a frequent refrain. "What a GOOD Christian, what a fine parent Sarah Palin is for not blaming her daughter and supporting her and the grandchild-to-be." There is little talk among this constituency of the role abstinence and lack of sex education and birth control may have played in the current scenario--nor how Palin's views and policies on these subjects may be relevant to Bristol's teen mother status. There really isn't much of any discussion about how teen parenthood isn't a great thing, and, gosh, what can we do about it. Somehow, to these folks Sarah Palin comes out looking like a loving, generous heroine. If this was all calculated by Palin, the campaign and/or the Republican party, it couldn't have been calculated any more accurately. Democrats need to watch out--this may NOT be the boon they initially envisioned.
3. There were so many troubling things about Sarah Palin's speech--and I don't know which to attribute to her and which to the campaign's speechwriters. Yes, she was a poised and engaging speaker--with a sense of humor. But the content was scary at times and frequently short of detail, save that of bashing the media and Obama (and the Democrats in general). In her assessment of the media and "the enemy" I almost felt shades of a threatened cultural revolution (in the sense of China's Cultural Revolution). McCain's campaign as a whole, of late, has had that feel--as if we needed, as a moral matter, to purge this nation of idolaters and unbelievers. Palins views and rhetoric only seem to underscore this.
Aside from spouting blatant misinformation about Obama and herself (dare I call them lies?), she also dismissed the Constitution and the Supreme Court with a airy wave of her hand. "Rights? Who needs to be read their rights? These are terrorists . . ." Gee, I really feel safe in her hands. If she is so quick to deride Miranda and Habeas Corpus, what else is she willing to dispose of in a heartbeat? For more on her less-than-truthfulness, click here. There's an even more detailed rebuttal here.
Actually, most of the speech seemed contentless--there was nothing truly politically meaty to sink our teeth into. No real policy suggestions, just a lot of demonizing of the "other." And people were just lapping up everything she had to say--seeming to believe without question whatever she propounded. My husband and I could not believe folks were cheering her on. She gave Obama a lot of grief for his "pretty rhetoric," but what, really did she offer instead? A lot of empty rhetoric, rhetoric very short on substance and very long on ridicule and scorn. Wow, that's really admirable. Makes me want to vote for her--I totally see what she stands for now.
4. Hosts of other questions have been raised about Ms. (or does she prefer Mrs.?) Palin--and these all need to be investigated and understood--including, among other things, her understanding, or lack thereof of national and international politics, her pork-barrel spending requests (that McCain criticized her for), her true connection with the Alaska Independence Party, her role in firing a state official who did not dismiss her former brother-in-law. (Maybe the ex-bro deserved it, I don't know--but we need to find out the real story). Ah yes, and then there's the story of her affair. Well, the NE got it right once--maybe they have once again, although I hate to stoop to that level. I'm sure we can all find lots of other reasons not to elect the McCain/Palin ticket.
5. Finally--did you notice how DIVERSE the Republican convention looked? Wow. I'm bowled over. They are SO inclusive! Ha! Perhaps they thought that having a female on the podium would distract folks from the sea of white, largely male faces on the convention floor.
P.S. She talked a lot about McCain's honesty and integrity. . .um. . .let's see--Keating 5 scandal, anyone? Cheating on wife and marrying another? Flip-flopping on most of the issues he in the past found important? Uh-uh--yep, honesty and integrity. . .he has 'em all. (And I used to like the guy--until he sold out all his old beliefs to get to the White House, turning his back on all the things that made him unique and likeable).
P.P.S. I just read a relevant and terrific post from Cynthia at Don't Gel Too Soon--please also check it out.