Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Family Politics

After yesterday’s announcement that Vice Presidential Candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old unwed daughter, Bristol, is pregnant, much attention has been placed back on the ever-present campaign issues of family values and abortion. 

This is, of course, something that happens to people all the time and is rarely even news worthy; however, with the GOP’s supposed core of support coming from conservative Protestants, which Gov. Palin herself claims to be a part of, some questions with religious implications have begun to surface (as they almost always do at this time in an election year).  Some Republican constituents are asking whether McCain made the right decision when choosing his running mate, favoring Senator Joseph Lieberman or former Gov. Tom Ridge, both of whom favor abortion rights, but this runs anathema to those Christian groups who are pro-life.  There is also the question of whether she will be able to handle the demands of being a VP considering that Gov. Palin herself has recently had a child who will require special attention and now has a daughter, still a child herself, who will soon bring another life into their home.

What The Times is seeing this as, in a way, in the article “In Political Realm, ‘Family Problem’ Emerges as Test and Distraction,” which was one of about four on the family centered issue, seems to be an opportunity for the VP nominee to walk the conservative pro-life walk which I am sure the GOP is all very aware.  This puts the young Bristol in quite the predicament considering that one of her options was never really an option politically.  But that is neither here nor there since she is well past the time for aborting the fetus.  What she has now become is a symbol for the conservative party, she is someone who is commended for doing the “right thing” by “deciding to marry and have the baby.”

While the candidates are saying that the private lives of these people are “off-limits”, there will likely be much political spin on both sides trying to pull the old religious ethical conundrums down around Gov. Palin and her “family problem.”  This is not “the traditional image of a first family,” as the article is quick to point out.  James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who always has to make his two cents count, claims in the article that “the media is already trying to spin this as evidence that Govenor Palin is a hypocrite.”  Going on that “all it really means is that she and her family are human.” 

Be that as it may, this too is political spin that is using the religious convictions many have for a right to live for political ends.  One has to wander if McCain’s choice for a running mate may have been based on the knowledge of Palin’s daughter, which does give her even more political significance than she already had.

What does it say about the media, this supposed liberal media outlet specifically, that Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy gets painted in a light of courageous action instead of a possible political move by the GOP to have a family that walks the walk, so to speak?  Can you imagine what people like Dobson would be saying if it were Obama’s daughter who were pregnant with the Dem. Nominee not only on the left of the Evangelical Right but also a candidate who is black?  Wouldn’t that be devastating for the party?  Why is her family even a part of the debate?  She was willing to put all of this in the national media come to think of it.  Gone are the days when Truman threatened reports for featuring the first daughter’s singing abilities.  Even Clinton would have flipped a shit if Chelsea was under the public eye like this.  Of course, this could just be my cynicism talking.

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