It’s just been reported that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin has announced that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. Commentary from the right have included: “Senator McCain’s view is this is a private family matter”1; “We’re excited about the governor and think she’s going to do well”2; “We’re all sinners…we all make mistakes”3.
These are all kind and supportive words. Words that go to the heart of how we think we should respond. I think that it’s great that McCain knew about this situation during the vetting process and still announced Palin as his choice of running mate. Perhaps he felt that the Obama camp would be too squeamish to use it as fodder for the campaign. Given the Obama camp’s reluctance to throw hard-balls at the prospective veep, it’s probably a pretty good call.
What I find amazing is that this announcement was to deflect rumors that Palin’s youngest child was actually the child of the now-pregnant daughter. I’m not really see it as being much better. Remember, her daughter is NOT YET AN ADULT. While teens can and do engage in acts that parents would rather they don’t, the fact remains that those actions do reflect on the abilities of the parents…and in this case specifically, of the person possibly just one heart attack away from sitting in the Oval Office. It’s stuff like that that gives non-rubber-stamp voters pause. Is she ready to lead? Did John McCain fumble the choice?
I do need to say that I have nothing against pregnant teens, or women having children out of wedlock. I’ve known scores of them going back to when I was a teen myself. Some of the people I care most about in the world fit these conditions. What gets me is the subliminal scent of political hypocrisy in all of these statements. These are very liberal-minded comments coming from those who espouse abstinence programs, family values, and other rhetoric that have more truthiness than effective practice. One wonders what the comments would be if this had been Biden’s daughter and not Palin’s. Would they have been so generous.
2 Roberta Combs, president Christian Coalition of America
3 Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law