I’ve been thinking a lot about McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. I haven’t said too much, other than to throw out some links with a bit of snark attached. I’ve avoided the truly stupid stuff, like the pregnancy stories. I’ve been one of those who think getting her daughter involved at all was a mistake. This is the usual GOP hypocrisy, given how the conservative commentariat savaged Chelsea Clinton back in the day (not to mention McCain himself), but I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it any more now when the shoe is on the other foot. I’ve thought the whole subtext about Vice President Mommy was pretty stupid, too, even though so far as I can tell most of that is chaff being thrown by Republican mouthpieces claiming they are quoting liberals.
The defining moment for me is probably when Palin said of her child’s pregnancy, “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby.” In doing so, she herself inserted her daughter into the political discourse. More to the point, she recalled to me then-candidate Dan Quayle’s 1992 comment about a hypothetical pregnancy of his teen-age daughter, to the effect that he would support his daughter “on whatever decision she made.” [ source ]
This is Republican hypocrisy in full swing. Both Palin and Quayle are staunch abortion opponents, the no-exceptions type. Both of them believe fervently that no one else’s daughter has the “choice” that both of them have honored for their own daughters. This reminds me strongly of the women discussed in “The Only Moral Abortion is My Own.”
Sarah Palin is the modern GOP in a nutshell. “Fine for me, but not for thee.”
Yes, there’s all kinds of other crazy stuff going on. Troopergate, her flipflops on the Bridge to Nowhere and earmarks in general, her stance as a “reformer” with a close involvement with indicted Senator Ted Stevens, her deeply committed antienvironmentalism, her Creationist beliefs (which I think should prima facie disqualify anyone from public office on the grounds they cannot be trusted to think logically about basic facts), her participation in Alaska secessionist politics. But what did we expect from a McCain vice-presidential nominee? Really, these are Republicans. None of that feels like any more than business as usual to me. And frankly, they make her a far weaker candidate, something I can hardly complain about.
But respecting her daughter’s “choice” sticks in my craw, for the simple reason that Governor Palin would take that exact same choice away from every other daughter in America with a stroke of her pen.
Special bonus gedankenexperiment. If you think the media is inherently liberal, imagine the reaction of an Obama VP pick were the subject of an active abuse-of-power investigation. Imagine the reaction if one of Obama’s daughters were pregnant. Contrast those possibilities with the reporting that Palin is “squeaky clean” and a “reformer”, and the fact that her daughter’s pregnancy was a topic introduced and promoted by the McCain campaign, right down to bringing the teen aged father to the convention.
(Thanks to rosefox for the environmental link.)