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Palin Pregnancy

Kevin Drum on the Palin pregnancy:

JUST ASKIN' INDEED....Jakes Tapper asks:
What would the response be if Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and his wife Michelle had a pregnant unmarried teenage daughter?

Yeah, yeah, I know how annoying this kind of conjecture is. But I couldn't help thinking about it. Here's how my mind wandered: Fox News talking heads....hmmm....solemn statement of faux support from John McCain....followed by the usual innuendo-laden videos from the cretins who run his communications shop....James Dobson would release a statement and it sure as hell wouldn't be this one....Steve Sailer would weigh in on black family culture....Charles Murray would be next....The Corner would slowly build to a screeching crescendo....Jeremiah Wright....permissive liberal culture....Rush Limbaugh....Sean Hannity....Michelle

About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.



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I don't think this kind of conjecture is very helpful, I'm afraid. There are several legitimate reasons to fairly question Palin's experience and fitness for the vice-presidency, but I don't think her daughter's pregnancy is one of them. In addition, the conjecture fails to take into account Obama's comment during the primary season that if one of his daughters made a "mistake" and became pregnant, he wouldn't want her "punished with a baby." Obama took a hit in some quarters for those unfortunate words. Finally, even if there were improper piling on in the event the hypothetical became reality, it doesn't excuse the glee with which some people are attacking Palin about what is an internal family issue. Sen. Obama showed a lot of class in recognizing that fact. It's too bad he can't control the Jakes Tappers of the world.

I agree with you, William, that Palin's daughter's pregnancy isn't a serious factor in Palin's fitness as a candidate... But I don't see any suggestion that it is relevant in the quotation above. I haven't followed the link, but based on what's here, Tapper's and Drum's questions are not about Palin, but about double standards and differing expectations -- whether and where they exist, how they operate, and whether we're as aware of them as we should be. Exercises in conjecture like this one can certainly be annoying, but I'm not sure they're fruitless. I was affected by this post by Dahlia Lithwick on Slate's "XX Factor" blog, wondering what sort of reaction we could expect if Palin (or someone equivalent) had been on the Democratic ticket instead of the GOP's. "Would we be seeing Sarah Palin nutcrackers by the weekend? Would Fox News be airing a segment next week about her 'nagging voice' in which so-called experts opine that men wont vote for Sarah Palin because she reminds them of their nagging wives'?" Those don't seem like hollow questions to me. I think they're valid, not in spite of the fact that Palin's sex should be irrelevant, but because of that fact.

What if Michelle Obama had a baby? Would conservatives have been stirring up baseless and idiotic rumors that the baby really was delivered by another Obama daughter, and the Obamas somehow managed to fool everyone and pull a switcheroo? Well, I don't know. In any event, though, it's rather a waste of time to sit around casting blame on one's partisan opponents for the hypothetical actions that they supposedly would have taken in some alternate universe.

What's the correct response for us as Cathoics, rather than partisans?

I thought the whole point was the continuing (stupid) partisanship one finds, say on the fair and balanced news channel or even in some posts here, and how it (both from the left and right) poisons the perceptions of folks

Obama is up over 50% for the first time.He hasnt been in the news. He has given no policy statment or vision.Guess what has been in they news cyle 24 - 7 and how has it been framed and who it serves.QED

How can someone who can't keep her own house in order hope to help run this country? ANd has anyone clued in to the fact that this is personal history repeating itself? From what I have read, Sarah Palin eloped a mere 8 months before her first son was born.... Now the daughter is pregnant out of wedlock... Shocked? Not really. Her parents set a great example for her to follow. Is this the kind of example we want set before all of our kids??? No one is perfect (heck the last guy who was walked on water and was hung on a cross...) and the teen in this saga had free will to do as she pleased - and obviously did so. Where were her parents to teach her right from wrong, to monitor her choices, to provide the birth control if she was going to be having sex? Seems to me this "abstinence only" education plan I've h eard touted doesn't work in the Palin family. Makes me wonder if their oldest son has fostered any children - not as obvious when the son does this since he can hide it more easily.Jo March, Milwaukee, WI

I think the whole private conduct/public trust issue was resolved with Kennedy, Clinton, etc.,etc.But I know that is different because:1. They are men2. They are DemocratsBut irrespective of that the issue has been resolved and I do applaud Barack Obama's leadership on this one. But then again how can someone who can't keep their own surrogates in order hope to run this country?

"How can someone who cant keep her own house in order hope to help run this country?"Lord knows I find Palin's record troubling--whiffs of personally motivated firings, slashing funding for pregnant teens, pursuing pork while touting herself as having killed the bridge to nowhere--but I find this kind of question sexist.Jerry Ford's wife was an alcoholic. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter had brothers with a whole raft of problems and embarrassments. Patty Reagan wrote scathing books about her parents.Nobody suggested that these male presidents were incapable of being prez because they couldn't keep family members in line. Raising these questions about Palin's fitness to be president because strikes me as thinly disguised mom-bashing. What evidence is there that Bristol's pregnancy has anything to do with the fact that Palin worked? And where's the scrutiny of Todd Palin, who seems to be the primary caregiver? I think it's great McCain considered a woman running mate. At this juncture, I think the problem is that he picked the wrong one. There were a bunch of great potential women Republicans interviewed on PBS last night between speeches. Christine Todd Whitman, another governor with Washington experience and a record of bucking Bush, would have been a great pick.

Jean, I'd disagree on the VP pool McCain had to work with. In fact, I think that is one of the real contraints for him, and one reason he jumped the shark a bit with Palin. Having covered Whitman--a very nice lady--I know her track record pretty well, and there's way too much stuff that would have been a drag on the ticket. Her declrations about the safety at Ground Zero, the fiscal mess she left in New Jersey (with lots of help from Dems, too) that is only now being straightened out by a Democratic governor. I just don't think he had many viable options. I also think, as I've said before, that the Palins' family life is relevant to the extent that her family values are a central part of her platform. Slashing funding for needy pregnant girls is not a family value. Not teaching them how not to get pregnant? Tough call. It's delicate terrain, to be sure, for both Obama and McCain, and the media. It did not have to be thus. (And McCain and his ilk don't have much moral high ground, given their gratuitious cheap shots at Chelsea Clinton when she was a young teen.) It also goes to McCain's judgement--the head of the vetting team didn't meet Palin until the day before she was announced. All of this tsurris could have been avoided if they had done a good job, or floated her name, or something. It doesn't speak well of McCain's judgment, I think. And now you have his campaign strategist saying they put the daughter's pregnancy info out there so they could "flush the toilet" (his delicate phrase) on all the bad news on Labor Day, when everyone was at BBQs or fleeing Gustav, or barbecuing while watching people flee Gustav. Ouch.

I also think, as Ive said before, that the Palins family life is relevant to the extent that her family values are a central part of her platform. Slashing funding for needy pregnant girls is not a family value.Have you been taken in by this story? If so, a bit of factual information might be helpful: 1) Someone proposed an additional $5 million for a facility "expansion," and Palin proposed $3.9 million instead; 2) That organization's entire government funding in 2006 was less than $1.2 million, so it's not quite accurate to describe Palin as "slashing funding." 3) The house for pregnant girls served a total of 12 girls in 2007. Are you suggesting that they couldn't manage with less than $5 million, or about $417,000 per girl?

Eduardo, your point has now been echoed by a National Review writer, oddly enough: don't usually engage in these scenarios, but I'll do it here. If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.

Stuart, my understanding of that story is that it was a reduction in the context of an overall reduction in spending for such programs. I'd like to be enlightened: Where did you get your information?

First, I looked at the Washington Post link that I provided above. The document shown there says, right at the top, that the budget item was for a facility "expansion." Then I read down further, and it turned out that some commenters on that Washington Post story showed some interest (or at least more interest than the Post) in looking at the facts, i.e., in linking to the specific Guidestar document showing the previous level of government funding for the program in question, or describing how many pregnant teens are really served by the program. I then looked at the program's website, and found that they did indeed report a mere $1.2 million in government funding, and they did indeed claim to have served no fewer than 12 pregnant women in 2007. None of this took very long. But if you have other sources of information -- i.e., about an "overall reduction in spending" on programs specifically for teenage mothers -- I'd be happy to hear any specifics.

The WaPo story notes that the legislature passed the item--it was Palin who cut the funds. Why? I'll look for the other pieces I saw re the overall spending. (Of course, she was cutting this program while the state was flush with cash. Gotta draw the line somewhere, I guess.)

Well, that interpretation falls in line with a long tradition (not a noble one) of accusing one's partisan opponents of "slashing funding" for something [whether welfare or the military or whatever] because they merely agreed to triple rather than quadruple the spending on a particular item. I tend to think, however, that journalists (i.e., the Post) should be more forthcoming in describing the context to their readers.

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