Monday, September 1, 2008

Scorn for John McCain and Sarah Palin, but sympathy for Bristol Palin

This story was released today, in order to refute this story.

This editorial put it pretty well (as Rebecca Traister from Salon often does).

It should be stated that the new story doesn't explain many of the issues with the old story. If Palin's daughter has a sudden miscarriage in the very very near future, then one can make their own conspiracy theories. But let us assume that the new story is true and the old story is not...

It's somewhat ironic that the first woman on a GOP presidential ticket immediately unloads a gender-specific soap opera story that would have been laughed out of any television pitch meeting (I wonder if this upcoming season of 24, featuring a female president, will touch on this at all). Regardless of how this all turns out, this is a major step backwards for the political conversation in regards to women holding the highest office in the land. I wish I could laugh at the hypocrisy, or giggle at John McCain's stunningly bone-headed selection. I wish I could smirk at how pissed off the far more qualified women in the GOP (Kay Bailey Hutchison, Liddy Dole, Condoleezza Rice, Christine Todd Whitman, Meg Whitman, etc) must be, that McCain went with this neophyte instead of them, and now within 48 hours Sarah Palin once again returned the national dialogue about female politicians to such tawdry sex-based issues. McCain and Palin have ironically made that glass ceiling that much thicker for whomever comes next.

But, in the end, this is about a person who accidentally got pregnant and made a choice to keep the baby. I certainly can relate. But the difference is that I had a choice, and I had the privacy needed to contemplate such a drastic choice. It's no secret amongst friends and family, but my daughter was conceived about a year before my wife and I were married. Truthfully, I found out literally five hours after I finalized my purchase of an engagement ring. In the end, we moved in together exactly on schedule, we got engaged on the day I had always planned it (well, one day late), and we got married last December, which was about when we had planned.

There was some standard hand-wringing for a few days, but it was an inevitable decision. We were financially secure adults and planning on getting married and having a family, so this was just putting the horse before the cart. When Allison asks the inevitable question someday, as she notices that she's in the wedding pictures or does the math, the answer will be easy (and understandable to anyone who's ever raised an infant): "No, sweetie," as we warmly chuckle, "we got married despite you."

It should be noted that this experience made me even more pro-choice. While I certainly have no regrets about our decision, and I certainly find it difficult, if not saddening, to imagine us making a different choice, I could never ever imagine anyone not being able to make that choice for themselves.

I will give my scorn to John McCain for potentially setting back gender politics by a good twenty to thirty years and by allowing someone who clearly lacks judgment to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. On that note, I wouldn't be surprised if Palin drops out in the next week, to be replaced by one of the women on the above list. I will give my scorn to Sarah Palin for making her daughter go through this under the spotlight of the entire world, knowing full well that her daughter will now be hounded by Star and US for the rest of her days.

And I will continue to criticize them for the hypocrisy of being pro-choice in their home, but working to take away choice in other people's homes. I will continue to criticize them for constantly supporting 'abstinence-only' education despite repeated studies that shows that it is less effective in preventing just the sort of situation we apparently have here. And I will hope that this current situation causes those on the Right to amend their own scorn towards others in this position. I can't help wondering how compassionate the GOP would have been had this happened to Chelsea Clinton or, in the near future, the seventeen-year old daughter of Barack Obama. Maybe this will show them the light in demanding that those who choose to keep unwanted pregnancies at least be given access to affordable health care, the kind that the Palin family will have. We can hope that something good can come out of this other than tabloid sleaze and gender stereotyping.

But to Bristol Palin, I offer only sympathies and best wishes. She'll need them, especially with this most private of moments being played out for constant commentary on the national stage. On the plus side, she'll hopefully discover that sometimes being violently beaten with a plastic coat hanger by a giggling assailant can be the best part of your day. Here's hoping that thirty-or-so years from now, my kid and her kid can face off on the political stage at a national level. I have no doubt that my kid can kick her kid's ass. But them, I'm a parent and thus a little biased.

Scott Mendelson

2 comments:

Kyle Leaman said...

"giggle at John McCain's stunningly bone-headed selection"

- I hate to say it, but I think your out on the far left here Scott. Just a small sample of reading of left to right journalists, as well as the initial republican reception to the pick says thats your analysis is a bit over the top. The very fact that you think she will resign shortly, I think proves how far out there you are.

" wish I could smirk at how pissed off the far more qualified women in the GOP (Kay Bailey Hutchison, Liddy Dole, Condoleezza Rice, Christine Todd Whitman, Meg Whitman, etc"

- I wish I could smirk at how pissed off far more qualified democrats were passed over in the democratic primary. Really? And Barrack is not a neophyte? How long was Barrack a Senator before he began running for President? How long has he been in political office in total? How come he is not a laugh? How long was your prefered pick John Edwards a Senator before he ran for president and was nominated a running mate?

"now within 48 hours Sarah Palin once again returned the national dialogue about female politicians to such tawdry sex-based issues. McCain and Palin have ironically made that glass ceiling that much thicker for whomever comes next."

- What a sec, Pail and McCain are responsible for this? Not those whom have seemingly overreacted by coming up with conspiracy theories (that your seemingly indulging a little)in their attempts to find something to bury Palin with.
- Was Bill Clinton irresponsible when he (with knowledge about his skeletons in the closet) ran for office back in 1992, knowing all the hurt it would cause his family? How about ANY politican with children? Are they all disqualified? Would it have been ok if this happened after she was named?
- Should President Bush have resigned after the stories about his daughters came out, saying, "its for the family, I don't want them to go through with it"?

"I will give my scorn to John McCain for potentially setting back gender politics by a good twenty to thirty years and by allowing someone who clearly lacks judgment to be a heartbeat away from the presidency."
- Who so clearly lacks judgment? Or do you mean, simply disagrees with you on policy issues? A little over the top? How about puting someone without much of a record of judgment, not one heartbeat away from the presidency, but answering the 3 o clock phone?

You can play the "decision to make a choice" argument all that you want, but Republicans belive in people's decision to make choice. I love reading your film analyses Scott, your an incredibly gifted writer (immemsely more than myself), and your post about Moore earlier gave me hope that you were more even-handed than I previously thought. But, your over-generalization of how the right views pregnancy and abortion should be beneath you.

I'm pro-lfe, but I don't for one second think that you hate babies, or hate innocent life. I don't for one second think that you could care less about 5-month old babies outside the womb. For most pro-lifers like myself, its not about thinking women don't have a right to choose, its about opposing principles. I greatly believe in a women's ability to have choice about her body, but I also believe in protecting the life of an unborn child. I believe the latter principle supercedes the former.It of course, doesn't lessen my feeling on the former.

S. Mendelsohn said...

Scott, I have to strongly disagree with your analysis of Sarah Palin as the VP choice for the Republican ticket.

She is a woman of principles and great inner-strength.

McCain's choice of such a woman only serves to emphasize the lack of character exhibited on the Democratic ticket.

Before this I was voting for McCain as the lesser of two evils-- as a way to ensure the defeat of Obama, Osama and Chelsea's mama.

Now I will pull the Republican lever with a smile on my face, knowing that the McCain*Palin ticket truly is a vote for change--a change for a better United States.

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