I plan to honor that request. It's easy, in the midst of a political campaign, to forget that the people involved are, after all, people. Some of them -- Sarah Palin, for instance -- place themselves under a media spotlight of their own free will. Others -- her daughter, for instance -- wind up there through no fault of their own. Imagine yourself in her position: there you are, seventeen years old, pregnant, unmarried. Maybe you understand what happened and why; and maybe your parents and friends do as well. But zillions of bloggers and reporters and pundits are about to make the most personal details of your life into a political issue, and they don't understand it at all. And yet, despite that, they are about to use you and your unborn child to score points on one another, without any regard whatsoever for you and your actual situation.Comment: That last "to my mind" seems true enough, but somewhat beside the point: it doesn't argue against invasion, it just argues that this case is not good evidence. I think any thinking person would have to agree--as they say about the Virgin Mary, it happens in the best of families.
I want no part of this. None at all. To those of you who think otherwise: that's your right. But ask yourself how you felt when Republicans scored points using Chelsea Clinton, who didn't ask to be dragged into the spotlight either.
As far as I'm concerned, it's fair game to consider Sarah Palin's statements about her daughter's decision, and to compare them to her own views about abortion. That's a story about whether or not Sarah Palin sticks to her beliefs when they affect her own family, not about her daughter. But it is not fair game to use her daughter, or any of her kids, as pawns in a political argument. To my mind, this extends to using her daughter as evidence that abstinence-only education doesn't work: presumably, no one thinks that it works 100% of the time, and that's the only claim to which this one counterexample could possibly be relevant. (That's why God created large-scale studies.) Likewise, I think that arguing about whether Sarah Palin is a good mother is out of line: we have no idea at all what arrangements she and her husband have made for child care, how their relationship works, and so forth. Assuming that Sarah Palin would have to be her children's primary caregiver is just sexist.
As to the rest, I somewhat-teeth-gnashingly agree. Be nice if
Update: Jonathan Zasloff fulminates:
Can you imagine ... what would be the right-wing's reaction if this had been Barack Obama's 17-year-old daughter? It would take racial coding to a whole new level. For that matter, can you imagine what their reaction would be if the Democratic Presidential candidate had cheated on his first wife, who was disabled, in order to marry a younger, prettier heiress? And if the Vice-Presidential candidate's teenaged daughter had had sex and a child out of wedlock? Or if the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate chose to run for national office while attempting to raise a six-month-old infant with Down's Syndrome? ...Translation: he's reduced to impotent rage. Right on, bro, me too.
Update II: Robert Stacy McCain (sic? The evil twin?) takes a different view:
Since the McCain campaign has released a statement declaring that 17-year-old Bristol Palin now faces "the responsibilities of adulthood," might I be so bold as to suggest that they arrange a press conference where Bristol can attempt to address the horrible embarrassment she's caused her parents?Source: The fire-breathing wingnut-lefty -- um, American Spectator. I guess this makes me more persuaded that Hilzoy is right.
Excuse my paternal (and political) indignation but I am in no mood for pleas that the media respect anyone's privacy at this point. I don't think it an exaggeration to say that this girl (and her boyfriend) have caused a crisis of global significance, and if her parents are serious about "the responsibilities of adulthood," Bristol ought to face the consequences, including about 45 minutes in front of the klieg lights while reporters shout stupid questions.It's not Bristol's fault her mother was picked as the GOP running mate, but she certainly should have understood how her personal behavior would reflect on her family.
Nostalgia Note: You know, this is one (albeit secondary) reason why I left the newspaper biz. I simply did not enjoy sticking my nose into other peoples' tragedies and misfortunes. Okay, maybe I enjoyed it too much, but I wanted to get away from it.