When Sarah Palin gave her introductory speech on Friday in Dayton, Ohio, she spent a minute or two thanking the McCains and uttering various pleasantries about her nomination before launching into a several minute spiel about her family — about her snowmobilin' husband, Todd, and about her oldest son, Track, who enlisted in the army on September 11th and will be deployed to Iraq on the same day this month. After that, she talked about what a great man and patriot John McCain is. In the nearly 20 minute speech, we learned literally nothing about Palin's policy, except that she "never really set out to be in public affairs," adding,"I was just your average 'Hockey Mom' in Alaska." And let's be honest: were Palin not a woman, and not a mom, she wouldn't be anywhere near the Republican ticket. Her motherhood is the crux of her public image. Which is why I must respectfully disagree with Megan that Bristol Palin's pregnancy should be off-limits.Of course, I agree that Bristol should not be shamed for having sex, nor should she be judged for her choice to keep her baby. However, how can any pundit worth his or her salt not mention this pregnancy when talking about John McCain's abysmal record with sex education? As CBS News notes, "In 2006, McCain joined fellow Republicans in voting against a Senate Democratic proposal to send $100 million to communities for teen-pregnancy prevention programs that would have included sex education about contraceptives." One of the few things we know Palin's stance on is abortion, and as has been noted before, Palin wants to eliminate reproductive choice in this country. Which makes it curious, then, that as Rebecca Traister over on Salon notices, the language of choice still pervades the party's public statements about Bristol. "According to the New York Times story, 'Bristol Palin made the decision on her own to keep the baby, McCain aides said.' That's just peachy in its presumption that Bristol had a choice about whether or not to continue her pregnancy," Traister writes. "It's true that in 2008, she certainly does have a legal choice. But she wouldn't under the proposed administration of her mother and John McCain, both of whom oppose abortion rights and tell us they would work to overturn Roe." Like it or not, especially in this election, the personal is political: the fact that Palin had a baby with Down syndrome is already being used as a Republican talking point. Timothy Shriver notes in Newsweek, "Trig could be a high-profile example of how wonderful it can be to choose life, even in adversity, even when the conditions aren't perfect. After all, the conditions are never perfect, but the promise of a newborn baby is that God's love is. Somehow, despite everything, love is triumphant. The message: Love life. Choose life." And you can be sure as hell that Palin and the Republicans would be happy to use Trig's existence to push their anti-choice message. How does the logic work then, that while 17-year-old Bristol should be protected, a four-month-old baby boy is fair game? Also. There is evidence that McCain did not thoroughly vet Palin before offering her the VP spot, and that "top aides were vague on Monday about how and when [McCain] had learned of the pregnancy, and from whom." If Palin was trying to hide Bristol's pregnancy, who knows what other shady business she has hiding in the bushes. In addition, McCain's mere cursory vetting of Palin shows that his decision-making on important things is incredibly rash. Do we really want a man in charge of our military who is prone to making such knee jerk choices? It seems that Obama has already started using this pregnancy to his advantage without explicitly naming Bristol. According to Politico, Obama is already running radio ads hitting McCain on abortion rights. But! At the end of the day, I think Democrats should not use Bristol Palin directly in any way, shape or form, and not because they should be above it, but because it detracts from the real issue at hand: the fact that Palin is entirely inexperienced and has barely any defined stances on any issue. Bristol and baby Trig are just smokescreens. At the end of the day, it will be far more satisfying and fruitful to attack Palin on her entirely wobbly platform than the productiveness of her womb. America: Meet Sarah Palin [YouTube] McCain Opposed Funds For Teen Moms-To-Be [CBS News] Palin, Pregnancy And The Presidency [Salon] Palin's Choice: Pro Trig [Newsweek/WaPo] Disclosures on Palin Raise Questions On Vetting Process [NYT] Raising Abortion [Politico] Earlier: Bristol Palin Is Pregnant, Let The Opprobrium Begin Sarah Palin: When Choosing A Woman Might Not Be Choosing For Women
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