Washington Babylon — September 2, 2008, 10:31 am

In Case of Palin, Hypocrisy Might Have Been Easier to Understand

Quite a few news stories and op-eds about the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter have touched on the issue of the alleged “hypocrisy” of the G.O.P. vice-presidential nominee. But I’d have to agree here with James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, who said that the story doesn’t suggest hypocrisy on the part of Governor Palin and that “all it really means is that she and her family are human.”

Indeed, there are pretty serious questions raised here about the efficacy of sexual abstinence as a birth-control method, but there doesn’t seem to be much two-facedness: Palin’s daughter got pregnant, and in keeping with her parents views on abortion (and possibly her own, though that’s not known), Bristol Palin is going to have the baby and marry the father.

Michael Graham, of the Boston Herald, also expressed sympathy for the Palin family, in a piece headlined, “Millions of mothers can relate to Palin.”

Does her daughter’s pregnancy provide the opening Democrats need? It’s too early to say, but my guess is no. In fact, if anything, this storyline is likely to help the McCain/Palin ticket. First, it will drive the ratings for Palin’s speech tomorrow night through the roof. I’ve been predicting that the tune-in for her speech would be second only to Obama’s “Night at the Parthenon” show. If the McCain campaign leaks word that Palin’s going to address her daughter’s pregnancy, she may surpass him.

Second, this story will appeal to the women voters Palin was always put on the ticket to target – not the hard-core Hillary Lefties, but the swing, suburban moms. Palin is never going to be popular with New York Times feminists. Palin’s appeal is with working women who’ve had encounters with low-level sexism but, instead of whining about it, got back to work making happy, successful lives.

Her daughter’s pregnancy highlights another part of Palin’s appeal. Her normalcy. Here’s a woman who has run a business, raised a family, who is sending a son off to Iraq, who has another son with a disability, and now has to help her teenage daughter face motherhood. These are experiences that millions of American moms have shared, can relate to and understand. Sarah Palin is as accessible as Obama is exotic.

I’m not so sure about that analysis. Yes, Christian conservatives admire Palin more than ever, but they were going to vote overwhelmingly for McCain anyway. And it’s true that millions of moms can no doubt “relate to Palin” because they’ve had a young daughter who got pregnant or have spent a lot of time worrying about the possibility. But how many “swing, suburban moms” actually required (or even would have allowed) their teenage daughters to have the baby and marry the adolescent groom?

Probably not too many. The public and the media don’t take well to “family values” advocates who suddenly decide abortion might not be such a bad idea when their girlfriends get pregnant. But I’d bet such hypocrisy is a lot easier to “relate to” for many voters than Sarah Palin’s ideological purity.

Update: Sarah Palin identifies herself as a “hockey mom.” Looks like her daughter is one too.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Article
On Free Will·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Philosophers have labored for more than two thousand years to explain consciousness. Innocent of biology, however, they have for the most part gotten nowhere.”
Collage (detail) by Frederick Sommer
Criticism
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
Article
Israel and Palestine·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If Israel believes it needs to make a wall eight meters high between us and them, let them have it eighty meters high. Under one condition: It has to be on the international border.”
Photograph (detail) © Ali Jadallah / APA Images / ZUMA Wire
Article
Washington Is Burning·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Fueled by the national-security spending and corporate lobbying that followed 9/11, the flood of (mostly white) newcomers to the city appears irreversible.”
Portrait © © De Agostini Picture Library / Bridgeman Images

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today