Tuesday, September 02, 2008

GOP Im-Palin Itself

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas, as they say:

A series of disclosures about Gov. Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain's choice as running mate, called into question on Monday how thoroughly Mr. McCain had examined her background before putting her on the Republican presidential ticket.

On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.

Among other less attention-grabbing news of the day: it was learned that Ms. Palin now has a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state's public safety commissioner; that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede; and that Mr. Palin was arrested 22 years ago on a drunken-driving charge.

Some family values, eh? But this is the culmination of the paternalistic politics of the Republican party, the denouement of the Daddy State. Lecture, harangue, harass, moralize, genderfy about values, and ultimately, even the top of your ticket is going to be smeared by the same human behaviors you've accused the rest of the country...you know, them?...of self-indulging in.

I'm not here to judge Bristol Palin. I feel nothing but sadness for her, as I would for any single woman at the beginning of her life faced with this choice, particularly one for whom abortion could never be an option. Bristol will never be able to follow in her mother's footsteps. She will never be a contender for Miss Alaska. She will marry a man-- who also earns my pity, since his life and his future is now over so long as his mother-in-law is a political presence-- who is barely old enough to fight in Iraq (makes you wonder, in fact, why he's not there already. At eighteen, why is he still in high school?). Yes, they will both be taken care of. Mommy's on the big stage now, and the limelight splatters onto the rest of her tribe.

None of them will ever go hungry again, so long as the lecture circuit and book deals from Regnery Press abound.

But the chance that Bristol might extend an already impressive family name are zilch now. We make choices, and in making choices, we make mistakes. I grieve her mistakes with her. I'm pretty sure she's not happy about what has happened.

I am, however, free to judge Sarah Palin. On these two scores alone, her daughter's promiscuity as well as the attempt to fire a public servant out of a spiteful vendetta from a family matter, she falls far short of the Republican ideal of morality and humility.

Well, actually, on that last point, she's probably in lockstep, but I digress.

It is ironic that the public outcry from the right wing, particularly from the McCain camp itself, has been one of tolerance, praising the decision to keep the baby, of letting a politician's private life be her private life, of keeping the children out of this. On that last point, I concur, but...

The internal inconsistency of that statement-- a public official hiding behind the privacy shield, while a) denying it to women who might choose abortion and b) utilizing her very public resources to hound a man who is in a private dispute with a member of her family-- is astoundingly cynical, to say the least.

And yet, the word will go forth about the party of values, the party that just a year ago excoriated Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney's younger sister, for getting pregnant at sixteen. Somehow, they manage to twist their heads 360 degrees on this story about Bristol Palin.

I think this sums up Mickey Malkin's post: