Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More of the McSame

egalia and some others are upset with the focus on the Palin's current family tribulations. Many see discussion that, by necessity, references the pregnancy of 17-year old Bristol Palin as attacking the child or focusing too much attention on her. Many are reflecting on a need to keep family matters private, especially with regard to children. Others view the discourse as a misogynistic attack on Palin by questioning the decisions she has made as a parent. While I agree that attacking Bristol and her 18-year old boyfriend are inappropriate, I can not and do not agree that questioning Sarah (and Todd) Palin's recent decisions and how they have impacted her children during her run for the Vice Presidency are in any way misogynistic or even out of bounds.

Sarah Palin runs on a platform that refuses to allow my medical decisions regarding my reproductive organs to remain a private and personal affair. During her earliest parlay into the political process, Sarah Palin insisted on interjecting her views in venues they really weren't necessary or appropriate:

But in the first major race of her career — the 1996 campaign for mayor of her hometown, Wasilla — Palin was a far more conventional politician. In fact, according to some who were involved in that fight, Palin was a highly polarizing political figure who brought partisan politics and hot-button social issues like abortion and gun control into a mayoral race that had traditionally been contested like a friendly intramural contest among neighbors.


Four years later, she took on her former workout buddy in a race that quickly became contentious. In Stein's view, Palin's main transgression was injecting big-time politics into a small-town local race. "It was always a nonpartisan job," he says. "But with her, the state GOP came in and started affecting the race." While Palin often describes that race as having been a fight against the old boys' club, Stein says she made sure the campaign hinged on issues like gun owners' rights and her opposition to abortion (Stein is pro-choice). "It got to the extent that — I don't remember who it was now — but some national antiabortion outfit sent little pink cards to voters in Wasilla endorsing her," he says.

Vicki Naegele was the managing editor of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman at the time. "[Stein] figured he was just going to run your average, friendly small-town race," she recalls, "but it turned into something much different than that." Naegele held the same conservative Christian beliefs as Palin but didn't think they had any place in local politics.

"I just thought, That's ridiculous, she should concentrate on roads, not abortion," says
Naegele. Time
Even as a small town mayor, Palin insisted on imposing her religious views (and partisan politics) by threatening to fire the librarian for not supporting the Palin administration (in other words, the librarian wasn't too keen to have Mrs. Palin require her to ban books) and helping maintain the abortion issue as a central and divisive topic in mayoral elections after she could no longer serve. Ethics Reform did not become a central issue for Mrs. Palin until she could no longer use wedge issues like abortion to move to the next level. Whether or not she is a reformer or just not as corrupt as the previous Governor of Alaska depends on with whom you speak. What we do know is that, in order to transition to the national level, wedge issues are again a central theme and the reason she is on her party's ticket.

It is exceptionally naive for Palin and her supporters to ignore her "private family matter" when, in accepting McCain's offer, she put her teen-aged pregnant daughter on display for the masses (heck, they're even flying the father out to the convention - which is neither a good decision nor one that screams "respect my daughter's privacy"). It would be a lie to say that it doesn't matter that the party that chastises liberals on all issues related to the sanctity of marriage, reproductive issues, medical determination and family values (including the selfishness of working mothers) has put forth a candidate who seems to go out of her way to put her own ambitious career aspirations well ahead of the needs of her children. It not only matters, it matters a lot.

It's equally naive for us to accept the demands of Mrs. Palin and her supporters to relegate this issue to a private family matter for themselves when their policies would not afford others the same courtesy. In saying this, I'm not advocating taking Bristol Palin to task, I'm just in favor of reminding them that one of their favorite SCOTUS justices says there is no right to privacy (meaning there is no such thing as private family matter).

I actually believe McCain's folks when they say they knew about Bristol's pregnancy. I think it's fully possible that the fundies who insisted on advancing Mrs. Palin on the ticket may have known as well. Call me a cynic, but I think they actually counted on getting the reaction they’re now getting about the announcement of Bristol’s pregnancy. They’re opportunists and they want the liberal pile on attacking the hypocrisy of Sarah Palin’s platform and her apparently judgment in putting her political aspirations before the current needs of her children. They spin this that those who question Palin’s judgment and McCain’s selection of her, as well as her lack of experience as bullies going after her family and being sexist. It’s actually a brilliant, almost Rovian, move.

The pat few days just continue to raise issues about Palin's & McCain's judgment as individuals and as a collective. More importantly, they just proven to us that in supporting the McCain-Palin ticket, the Republican party is just giving us more of the McSame.

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