Monday, 1 September 2008

Family Troubles

Tonight's admission that Governor Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol is, indeed, pregnant will at least scotch the bizarre rumours that the teenager is the real mother of Palin's youngest son, Trig Paxson Van (sounds more like a utility vehicle than a child to me, but then I'm not Alaskan). It is however bound to increase the doubts many commentators have been expressing as to the wisdom of John McCain's choice of running mate. Especially if, as has been reported, he had only met her once.

On the one hand, of course, having a daughter come home pregnant is a common enough experience in many families, something to which many voters might relate. Sarah Palin made much of her credentials as an "ordinary hockey mom" when she was introduced to a baffled international press the other day. There's ordinary and ordinary, though. The more one learns about Sarah Palin and her family, the more they seem to belong less in the White House than on the Jerry Springer show.

Sarah Palin was supposed to be a champion of conservative Christian values, which tends to imply a family life of irreproachable respectability; many on the religious right take a dim view of fornication. The grassroots activists who warmed to Palin's brave decision to carry a Down's baby to full term may be less impressed to learn that her daughter was not anxious to make "true love wait", as the spin has it. It's not the sex, perhaps, so much as the getting pregnant which seems a bit infra dig.

Then there are the kids with trailer-trash names like Bristol, Track and Trig; Palin's past as a small-town beauty-queen; her blue-collar husband with a reputation for interfering in political hiring and firing; her moose-hunting; her support for creationism (there's no evidence that she actually believes the world was created in six days, but she's on record as saying it should be taught in schools); the (as yet unproven) tales of small-town favour-swapping. To move from the small, restrictive, seemingly bleak township of Wasilla, where Palin was mayor (her only political experience), to the governor's office was transition enough; the prospect of reaching the seat of power in Washington must seem like winning the lottery.

In other circumstances, the Palins might have made excellent subjects for a docu-soap, a sort of gubernatorial Osbournes. Perhaps that's going to be the next political trend, with politicians elected on their ability to make public fools of themselves for the entertainment of the masses. Who needs Big Brother when you've got these people?

On his blog, Andrew Walcro (an Alaska radio talk-show host who stood against Palin in the governorship two years ago) asks, "why does the governor's husband, Todd Palin appear to hold so much power?" He alleges that Alaskan lawmakers and public officials have been "shocked" by Mr Palin's "inappropriate" presence at key meetings, and quotes Representative Jay Ramras as saying that "Todd's fingerprints on trying to impact personnel decisions appear to go beyond the current scandal revolving around State Trooper Mike Wooten." There was the case of John Bitney, a senior advisor (and schoolfriend) of the governor's who was apparently forced to resign after he started dating the estranged wife of one of Todd's buddies.


After a short time, Bitney realized that he couldn't remain in the governor's office due to the constant pressure and he worked out a deal with Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles to take a transfer to another department.

On July 3, Bitney was in the process of driving his vehicle back to Juneau when he couldn't get his state issued Blackberry to work. When he arrived in Tok he called his office and was told that his Blackberry had been turned off and that his name had been removed from the state employee directory.


So what of 17 year old Bristol? According to the statement issued tonight on behalf of the Palin family,

Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support. Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realise very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family.


Which is nice to know. The Palins manage to sound almost pleased. How much choice did Bristol actually have in the matter, though? Would she and boyfriend Levi Johnston be having to "face the responsibilities of adulthood", and marriage, if her mother's political position didn't make such an outcome essential? Not so long ago, Levi was writing on his My Space page that he "didn't want kids". As a diehard anti-abortionist, though, Sarah Palin is unlikely to have given her daughter the option of a termination. Whatever else, it seems likely that this shotgun marriage has come about as a direct consequence of Bristol's mother joining the McCain ticket.

While telling her daughter to get married and settle down prematurely might be seen in some quarters as an example of family values in action, the story doesn't say much for the abstinence-only sex education that Sarah Palin has been busily promoting in her short time as governor. Clearly it didn't work at home. Indeed, according to what now seems to be an informed source, Wasilla resident Sue Williams, Bristol might not be the only daughter Palin needs to be worrying about:

Have you never lived in a small town? When one hears this “rumor” (and okay, I admit, I never heard it straight from Sarah’s mouth) but have heard it from close to 20 people who are all long time friends of the family. Maybe they are all lying - and have been lying since April of this year when Willow’s boyfriend (Willow is the 8th grader) wouldn’t shut up about how Bristol was pregnant. The story came out (not by the news, of course, because all four reporters in this state wanted Sarah to choose them next for some cool govt post) but by everyone whose anyone around here (and it’s not a hard job to be an “everyone” when there’s so few of us).


Willow would be the 13 year old. But then there's probably not much to do in Alaska.

Ms Williams again:

When Todd and Sarah first learned Bristol was pregnant, they were “devastated” - which parents wouldn’t be? Sarah said she knew the scrutiny of the press would be hard for Bristol to take.

And then Sarah decides it’s okay to run for VP? If she thought the press in down home Alaska - a press corp who has given her family a free pass and who, even tho they’ve known about Bristol’s pregnancy for months, hasn’t touched it with a ten foot pole - if Sarah thought Alaska’s press would be hard for Bristol to bear, just exactly what did she think the nation’s press pool would be like? Or the fact that by accepting McCain’s offer to join the ticket, Sarah knew full well Bristol will become the most well known pregnant high school senior ON THE PLANET.


Has Palin sacrificed her daughter's future for her shot at the big time? Should we care? Probably not. But I suspect there's much more we're going to discover about Sarah Palin and her nearest and dearest in the coming weeks.

6 comments:

therealalekid said...

A bit mean, Sorry. However have you had a complete change of mind in the last couple of days. One issue though John McCain and his advisors would of known about this after they had vetted her and they must of felt that it wouldn't be a significant detractor.

'But, if I were John McCain, she is the one who I would have chosen as my running-mate. In fact, she strikes me as not only the right choice, but the only plausible contender - unless there were another 40ish, relatively independent, middle-of-the-road woman available. She isn't black, but you can't have everything, I suppose'

cabalamat said...

Transit Van is a wierd name but I suppose Bristol isn't much better; I suspect Americans don't know what it means in rhyming slang.

But I suspect there's much more we're going to discover about Sarah Palin and her nearest and dearest in the coming weeks.

That wouldn't surprise me at all.

Chris said...

Better rename your blog 'stale received lefty ideas corner' if that's the best you can do. Let's just note that being a Christian doesn't mean that you become perfect; it doesn't mean that your family become perfect; and it doesn't mean that you're a hypocrite because your actions fall short of your beliefs. It also doesn't mean that you excommunicate family members (or non-family members, come to that) who fall short; you try to support them in whatever way is appropriate. NB, I am not a Christian.

The Heresiarch said...

@RealAleKid: No, I haven't changed my mind: I've learned things. And the main thing I've learned is that there's a lot we haven't learned yet. The big issue will probably turn out to be Todd.

valdemar said...

The Todd thing would make some sense in the light of her Christians fundamentalism, no? I mean, fundies believe that women are subject to their fathers/husbands, and shouldn't enjoy equal rights, right? Or is she just dim and constantly in need of someone to tell her what to do?

misshumanity said...

obviously youre not looking at this from both sides, which is unfair and ignorant.

but thats your choice i suppose.

this isnt an election of who will look best in the white house, isnt that one of obamas main things? change? Not only is sarah palin change, shes one of us, shes an american by blood and by character.
we need her in the white house.
now more than ever.




unless you are perfect, and i highly doubt you are, ou have no right to judge someone on their children.

that child is bristols, not sarahs.
dont blame her for something she didnt do.


seriously?
treat her like a human, thats all she is.