Sep 1, 2008

Patronized by Palin

I will admit it. Sarah Palin is the type of person that irks me. Perhaps it's the "avid hunter, lifetime card-carrying NRA member," gun-touting image that makes my skin crawl. Maybe it's the way that she and McCain patronize Hillary supporters by kissing up to them, when in fact they have probably not much more in common than a skirt. Oops, on second thought, Hillary prefers pantsuits.

I don't need to go into this big discussion over experience and who has more and who has less. Yeah, Obama's resume of experience isn't exactly a mile long and it's fair game. So is Palin's and so are her politics. This isn't an "Obama-is-better-vote-for-him" post. What I intend to focus on is her ultra-conservative approach, how it relates to her family situation and how something like a teenage pregnancy can be used as political gain among people who are naive enough to buy it.

So Palin's 17 year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. In today's world, even in conservative Mormon country, I think most of us can get over the "shock." I've seen the best of parents lament over their teenage children's pregnancies.

According to ABC News, "Palin is an outspoken opponent of abortion, opposing the termination of a pregnancy in all cases except when the mother's life is in danger. Palin also opposed sexual education programs in schools, other than an abstinence-only curriculum, during her 2006 Alaska gubernatorial campaign."

So Bristol Palin decided to have sex. Is that her parents' fault? Probably not. But let's say she had decided to be responsible and wanted to make sure that it didn't lead to an unwanted (and certainly ill-timed, politically inconvenient) pregnancy. Was she being informed about how to use birth control at home? Certainly not from her mother. Was she getting it at school? Not if her mother had anything to say about it.

"Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist who leads an influential weekly meeting of conservatives, reacted to the news that Gov. Sarah Palin's, R-Alaska, 17-year old daughter plans to keep the baby and marry the father by saying that the GOP's pro-life base is "over the moon" because it re-enforces that the Palin family lives its pro-life values."

So now the pro-lifers are "over the moon" that a couple of 17 year-old kids are getting hitched and going to raise a baby happily-ever-after. "This is absolutely the best thing they could do," said Oklahoma delegate Angie LaPlante, 46, of Bristol Palin's decision to keep the baby. "This is the best thing, pro-life decision and it shows Palin is being supportive," she said. I just have to wonder: how "supportive" is Palin going to be when every-day Americans in their 40's and 50's, who don't live in a governor's mansion, are faced with the prospect of raising their grandkids? How "supportive" is she going to be when one sexually-ignorant generation living in an extremely sexualized society is irresponsibly giving birth to the next generation? How "supportive" is she going to be when America's girls develop cervical cancer later in life because they had never heard of the HPV virus, how to prevent it, or that there is a vaccine for it? How "supportive" is she going to be when more of America's teenagers are having babies because they weren't raised by parents who taught the value of abstinence and don't know how to use a condom?

I am also happy that Bristol "decided" to keep the baby. No, I don't think that abortion would have been right in her situation, unless she had been raped. Of course, though, her mother would have had something to say about that. But just how much of "Bristol's decision" was it? When your mother is running for VP on the GOP ticket, how do you say, "I want an abortion," (no, I'm NOT advocating that) or "I want to put this baby up for adoption," when you know the media is going to hound you, the baby, and any potential adoptive family. Yeah, I'm sure that Bristol really weighed all her many, many options.

I honestly wish Bristol Palin the best. The odds are stacked up against her big time, but maybe the father and her are a match made in Heaven and they will be able to provide their baby with everything that it deserves. Only time will tell, but my bet is that Sarah Palin is going to be raising her 6th child.

It's too bad really, that Obama's daughters aren't old enough to get pregnant and heroically raise their babies. The resulting enthusiasm from conservative Christians could have been enough for him to secure the presidency.

So if John McCain wins, he better throw Bristol Palin one heck of a baby shower.


Sanford said...

My wife thinks it’s just because I like to stand up for underdogs but I have been defending Palin a little bit around the house. I am a dismayed with how easily people are dismissing her. I mean it’s not like Obama has a lot more experience. In fact, it’s Obama’s lack of time in Washington and his atypical background that appeals to me and is one of the reasons I support him. Joe Biden, who is vastly more experienced and conventional, bothers me because he seems to be just another lifelong party politician who loves the spotlight and loves to hear himself talk. If it were Biden v. McCain I would have a tough time making a decision even though I am a pretty staunch Democrat.

Palin is nothing like me and at first glance we do not share political beliefs, but she appears to be a genuine regular person. She is not a constructed mirage like so many long time politicians -- aka John McCain, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or Joe Biden. Perhaps Palin will morph into as much of a conjured image as the rest of them but it’s nice to see a real person for now. Of course, real people can get eaten for lunch in the public arena. I like the way Obama has responded to the swirl of stories surrounding Palin. He remains civil and stays above the fray. I really admire his style.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Sanford, I like the fact that you can stand up for the underdog. That's a great quality and I usually tend to do that as well, maybe just not for Palin. Actually, right now she's not looking much like an underdog. :)

I just read a comment in some forum that said, "It's sad that the left has decided to politicize the pregnancy of a young woman."

OK, I'm not defending all those liberal bloggers who were apparently spreading rumours that Palin had faked a pregnancy and had actually already given birth to Bristol's baby. Not only does it sound ridiculous, but I agree with Obama here that the kids of politicians should be off-limits. He really doesn't have anything to comment here because it's not really any of his business and he's smart to stay out of it.

I must say though, part of me thinks that there's a small part that is sort of his business, except of course he probably knows better than to comment on it. The way I see it, Palin's politics are exactly what contribute to situations such as she's experiencing in her family now, and most families don't have the resources she does to deal with it. We've seen the statistics of abstinence-only education and how it holds up in today's world. Sadly, it does pretty lousy! The epidemic of teen pregnancies in my home ward alone reflects that teaching abstinence doesn't necessarily help in preventing pregnancy. Of course I think that abstinence should still be taught, especially at home, but how many parents are doing this and how many of them are winning the chastity fight? Not Sarah Palin. And now she's looking like a heroine in the eyes of the Christian right because she's cleaning up the mess that her policies help to create.

I was lucky enough to have parents who raised us with values and taught the Law of Chastity. I also got that from church and that was another big plus. But when I really think about it, the thing that made the biggest impression on me was probably the sex-education I got at school in grade 9 and 10. We had this nurse come in to tell us everything about birth control, STD's, rape, pregnancy, and sexual health, and yes, she even stressed abstinence. On top of all that, they showed us "the video." A totally uncensored birth. I still shiver when I think of that video!! :) Between that, the demonstration of a speculum, and all the disgusting diseases, I wondered why anyone could even think of having sex! :) All that, along with being the oldest of 5 kids, was fool-proof "birth control" for me.

I think that kids today need a dose of reality. Abstinence, while very important, doesn't hold up in a world where most kids are bombarded by sexual imagery and are getting absolutely nothing to combat it at home in regards to religious teaching. Withholding information from them, often for political gain among Christian conservatives, is putting them in danger, not just of getting pregnant but even just things that everyone should know about their sexual health and what to do or not to do when you've been raped. It's such a disservice to kids to simply say, "don't have sex."

the narrator said...

if anybody is guilty of politicizing her daughter's pregnancy, it is the gop. i have a hard time not thinking that the mccain campaign saw the pregnancy as a political bonus in their vetting process and their desire to win the conservative evangelical vote that he has difficulty securing.

Anonymous said...

Being an ultra Conservative Christian I love everything that Palin stands for. OK I can hear all the boos now coming from everyone. But I think she is just great. I agree with most if not all her views and I think what her daughter is doing is great.

I can however see how some people with more liberal mind sets (even mainstream mind sets) can see it the way that you are describing it.

Personally I think that because for years we have been so to the left many are lusting for this culture to swing all the way to the right. We've become so comfortable with what was once not the norm it's starting to scare people... especially those who have young children and are finding it increasingly difficult to shelter their children.

Thank you for your post!

Matt said...

FD, What is it about the gun toting NRA member Palin that makes you irritated?

I will agree with you on "just don't have sex" doesn't work, at least for the majority. I agree that every girl should see a live birth (including a close up of an episiotomy or tearing:) That would scare em' straight. I think the problem most conservatives have with school taught sex ed is that the parents don't really know what is being taught. I certainly wouldn't want my girls to be taught by some free lovin' bra-less hippie that teaches it's OK to have protected sex, much less "experiment" with same sex relations. I know this isn't always the case but, I hear it often from liberls on the radio.

I think we need to have a standard video that is viewable by parents on the internet. This video should talk about all std's, pregnancy- (and the consequences of teen pregnancy)& birth control methods and how they are not fool proof. I think it should be a factual video with very little opinion from either side other than to add abstinance is the only fool proof method.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Well, not being American, I guess I will never understand (or support) the whole "right to bear arms" thing. I personally believe that guns have only one purpose and therefore the less there are in a society, the better. I've always lived in countries with strict gun control, I've never used (much less owned) a gun, and gun violence, or violent crime in general, is much less here than in the US. I am convinced that it has to do with strict gun control. I just heard Palin argue that automatic assault weapons should be accessible to citizens who use them responsibly, and not to the "bad guys." I guess in a way she's right because the US is already so littered with guns, it finds itself in a vicious cycle: the bad guys have guns, so we need to protect ourselves with guns. Before you know it, everyone needs a gun and America has become a culture of guns. I have a brother that lives near Detroit and whenever I'm there, I always wonder to myself how many people are carrying guns in their cars. It has crossed my mind what would happen if I ticked someone off in traffic. Would they pull their gun on me? And yet the thought never really crosses my mind when I'm in Canada or Europe. Sure, it could happen there as well, but I think the odds are much less.

I agree 100% with your last paragraph. I think that's the way it should be. But many hard-core conservatives, like Palin, would always think it's too much.

Matt said...

I understand that guns kill and in theory less guns equals less killing. But I don't believe this to be true, at least in the USA. While there are many careless acts, (like drive by shootings etc) outside of gang populations I think that there are far more positive outcomes to owning guns than negative. Isn't this kind of like abortion from the liberals viewpoint? While many abortions are careless acts, aren't most of them are for the good? Sorry, I don't know if that made sense.

Saying that guns kill people is like saying cars kill people. When used responsibly both are safe. I believe there are thousands more that die from drunk drivers than guns each year, so shouldn't we ban alcohol and cars for that matter? I'm not trying to be mean spirited in saying this, I just don't understand the logic of banning guns.

One more point, drugs are illegal but still used in massive amounts, Would banning guns really make a difference? Gangs, drug dealers etc. would continue to posses guns regardless of the law.

Matt said...

Here's a couple stats I found:

"In 2003 alone, 30,136 Americans died by gunfire: 16,907 in firearm suicides, 11,920 in firearm homicides"

"In 2006, there were 13,470 fatalities in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver (BAC of .08 or higher) – 32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year.
16,005 people were killed in the United States in alcohol-related* motor vehicle traffic crashes (BAC of .01 or higher)."

Only 11920 of the deaths by gun were intentional killings of other persons. This is still no small number, a very sad statistic. How many of these killers do you think wouldn't have had guns if they were illegal? My opinion, not many.

BHodges said...

When people try to compare Palin's experience to Obama's, the simplest way to demonstrate the fallacious nature of the comparison is by demonstrating the difference in answers each gives to policy and issue questions. Whereas Palin comes across as a very confident person who has no idea what she is talking about in general (bush doctrine, anyone?) Obama actually understands some things.

I believe Sarah Palin, sadly, is being used as a political gimmick.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Alcohol claims many lives and I agree it's a huge problem. I think that society would be better without alcohol, but what are the chances of prohibition being reinstated? Most people probably use it responsibly, but not all do. The problem with guns is that they have only one purpose. Unless we're talking clay shooting or target practice, the purpose of a gun is to kill, whether it be an animal or another human. There's nothing else you can do with it.

Sure, a person who has a gun and knows how to use it will be able to better defend themselves in most instances. I understand that and I understand that it's a big concern to those who live in crime-ridden neighbourhoods. It's perhaps too late to go back for the US when it comes to gun violence. Even if there are tougher restrictions, it probably won't be enough because the country is already littered with unregistered weapons. But, the more guns that exist, the greater the chance that they will fall into the wrong hands. People who want the right to bear arms, even if they are totally responsible with their guns, have to accept that as long as everyone has that right, it increases the amount of guns being circulated and therefore it increases their risk of being the victim of gun violence. There's just no other way around it.

The other big problem I have with Palin and guns is her disregard for wildlife and the humane treatment of animals. I'll be honest, I'm opposed to hunting or any needless killing of animals. But, I understand that some people like to hunt, and while I disagree with it personally, I'm not naive enough to believe that they're going to stop. I know that Palin likes to hunt moose, but it goes beyond that. She supports aerial hunting, which I think is pretty much as barbaric and disgusting as canned hunting. Even many hunters themselves oppose this inhumane and unethical practice. It's just one of the more important issues that get lost in the sea of "earmarks and the bridge to nowhere." How many people have even heard about aerial hunting or know what it involves?

From the organization "Defenders of Wildlife":

{Alaska Governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is a strong promoter of the aerial hunting of wolves and bears, a practice that has been condemned by conservationists, scientists and many hunters alike. It involves shooting wolves and bears from the air or chasing them to exhaustion and then landing and shooting them point blank. The animals, shot with a shotgun, usually die a painful death. The hunters involved in the program keep and sell the animals' pelts.

"Sarah Palin's anti-conservation position is so extreme that she condones shooting wolves and bears from airplanes or using airplanes to chase them to exhaustion and then shoot them point blank. Most Americans find this practice barbaric, but it's routine in Alaska under Palin's leadership," said Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund president Rodger Schlickeisen.

Sarah Palin has supported aerial hunting since taking office despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, the American Society of Mammalogists, and more than 120 other scientists have called for a halt to the program, citing its lack of scientific justification and despite opposition from many hunters who see it as violating the sportsmen's ethic of fair chase. Palin in 2007 even proposed offering a bounty of $150 per wolf, as long as the hunter provided the wolf's foreleg as proof of the kill. And just earlier this year, she introduced legislation to expand the program and derail a scheduled August 2008 citizens' vote on the issue. The bounty was determined to violate the state's constitution and her legislation failed.

"Sarah Palin's positions against America's wildlife could put her to the right of even the Bush administration," said Schlickeisen. "She is a promoter of one of our nation's most ugly and cruel wildlife hunting programs and Americans deserve to know her views on such matters before they vote."}