I have long believed, ever since Amy Carter, that the minor children of politicians should remain off-limits until they become of age. I didn't care much for the jokes about Jenna and Not-Jenna in the first Bush term, certainly I was disgusted when Rush Limbaugh called Chelsea Clinton "The White House Dog," and I'm pleased to see the right wing has kept hands off Sasha and Malia Obama.
Mostly. I'm not aware of any outright major blogging with respect to them and a quick Google search uncovers only the Beanie Babies controversy from February.
So it's with trepidation that I approach the news yesterday that Bristol Palin lost her fight to keep the records of her custody fight with Levi Johnston private.
See, Bristol Palin presents a problem: on the one hand, she was a minor when she was dragged out of the Arctic obscurity of Wassilla into the hot lights of the Minneapolis mayhem, and her private pain fully disclosed.
On the other, she presents prima facie evidence of at least Sarah Palin's inability to keep her own house in order, much less take over the White House.
My suspicion here is there's a reverse-discrimination issue at play, at least as far as the Chris Crocker wing of the GOP is concerned: after all, none of them had any problem when Al Gore's son was arrested for possession, calling that an example of the poor family values of the liberal Democratic party.
My instincts tell me that Bristol's name ought to be kept off the lawsuit. It's too late now, of course. Even if the ruling was reversed, it wouldn't take much to figure out which court docket was hers and to publish the details from it.
Which leads me to the dilemma. Legally, there is no question that the public's right to know is far smaller than the right to privacy that Tripp Palin is entitled to, and this is a nation of laws.
On the other hand, there's the whole nasty issue of Sarah Palin's exploitation of Tripp Palin. That cannot be ignored or denied, and that complicates the legal issue.
Part of Johnston's fight has been to protect his public image, which is his right to privacy such as he can maintain and the right to go about doing his business, whether it's being a public figure (which appears to be his destiny, however pathetic that career will be), from the smears and slanders of another public figure, Sarah Palin.
To privatize the records of these hearings is to shackle Johnston's hands from protecting himself. Indeed, his filings in this matter speak to that:
In an affidavit, he [Johnston] says he wants the case to be open to "public scrutiny as a check against anyone's need to be overly vindictive, aggressive or malicious." He adds that he's referring not to Bristol but to her mom.
Clearly, there are no winners here, only losers, especially Tripp. My suspicion is the testimony and evidence presented at the trial will speak to both sides of the family being rather...ugly...with perhaps Bristol the only one coming out of it with any chance of an improved public image.
Sarah Palin will be forced to spin, spin, spin mightily the testimony. That Johnston has already landed a few pre-emptive blows in his interviews with regards to how Palin behaved behind the scenes tells me that's about all he was allowed to say by his lawyers, and that there's more, much more, to come.
Which would be consistent with her harping image from the campaig trail, the "pitbull with lipstick" writ small.
For my part, I'll likely ignore the trial, except to note when there will be real damage to Palin's Presidential aspirations.
But she really only has herself to blame for that. She could have been a better parent.