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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.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”