A Word or Two on Sarah Palin

I feel compelled to say a few things here about McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his VP running mate in this election.

First and foremost, I am uncomfortable with Democrats finding fault in Palin’s choice to run for this important position because it conflicts with her job as a mother.  Of course I realize she has five kids, the youngest of whom is a 5-month old with Down Syndrome, and I would be the last person to say that this is a small responsibility.  But I also hope that I would be the last person to assume that I know the first thing about how her household operates – where the responsibilities lie, how much help she has, what her own needs and wants are as a mother, and how her children are faring.

Most of you don’t know that recently my life was held up (here in ye olde internets) as a specific example to others of the kind of life someone with children would not want to have.  Turns out, my chosen lifestyle as a working mother dedicated to improving the lives of kids with special needs and their families is bad for my kids, but, thankfully, others “instinctively” knew better than to take this “disastrous” path and are counting their blessings back at home as they watch me struggle with work/life balance issues from afar.  I did not respond to this nor did I share it at the time because I know it does not ring true for me and I am comfortable enough with the choices I make not to need to defend them.  I only share this now because when I think of the judgmental, uninformed criticism Sarah Palin is getting, I am personally uncomfortable; I know how it feels to be called out in public as someone who is making choices that are bad for her family.  I feel strongly that we would all be better off if mothers supported one another’s choices, no matter how different they are from our own. Until I spend a week in Sarah Palin’s go go boots, I can’t know what her life as a working mother in public office is like for her or her family and I’m going to refrain from passing judgment on that particular point.

But that is about the only point I won’t pass judgment on, because, really, what the bloody hell was John McCain thinking?!  One article in today’s New York Times seems to claim that this choice was made because Palin was the only one left on McCain’s list who came down hard against abortion, and the evangelicals made it clear that their eyes were going to pop out and their heads might never stop spinning if he didn’t go in this direction.   This article, entitled Palin Disclosures Raise Questions on Vetting, is illuminating when it comes to such details.  C’mon, McCain —  did you think we might simply not notice the following:

On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.

Among other less attention-grabbing news of the day: it was learned that Ms. Palin now has a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state’s public safety commissioner; that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede; and that Mr. Palin was arrested 22 years ago on a drunken-driving charge.

While I grant you that all of those things are “a part of life” as Republicans are suddenly claiming (can we expect some updated Family Values?), I can’t help but believe that McCain didn’t quite dig deep enough when he made this choice so suddenly a few days ago.

Like so many, I have also been wondering if McCain is simply fishing for the undecided Hilary votes.  But this doesn’t quite make sense to me, because the more I read about Sarah Palin, the less I believe any sort of comparison could ever be drawn between the two.  I mean, we women are smarter than this, aren’t we?  I loved Maureen Dowd’s Op-Ed piece about Palin on Sunday…try replacing “Palin” with “Hilary” in any sentence – it doesn’t work.

It does appear that there were other reasons, reasons that were still mistakes, but that make more sense to me.  These are outlined by David Brooks in yesterday’s Op-Ed piece.  To quote:

When McCain met Sarah Palin last February, he was meeting the rarest of creatures, an American politician who sees the world as he does. Like McCain, Palin does not seem to have an explicit governing philosophy.


My worry about Palin is that she shares McCain’s primary weakness — that she has a tendency to substitute a moral philosophy for a political philosophy.

The Brooks editorial is replete with enlightening information about both McCain and Palin, and I highly recommend it.

And so, in the end, I am left with the feeling that Palin is a huge mistake for the Republicans, but for a very different set of reasons than I’ve been pondering for these past few days.

Not that I’m complaining.  No, siree!  Bring on the crazy, McCain!

9 responses to “A Word or Two on Sarah Palin

  1. Great post. I love Maureen Dowd’s piece. Thanks

  2. Wish I could have written this. I think I’ll leave it to my fellow bloggers and just keep nodding along. Well said! {scratching my head about criticism about your juggling skillz….I look to you as to how I might want to structure life down the road. So I guess the opposite of the critics!}

  3. Oh yes, I agree. Bring on the crazy.
    I wasn’t aware of any sort of judgment on you or your work life. That must have hurt. And wrong on so many levels. I’m sorry about that.

  4. “what the bloody hell was John McCain thinking?!”


  5. Great post. And so much more fairly written than the angry rant I put up on the CMB on Saturday.

  6. Hear, hear! I am sure that you know that I also look to you for hints and tricks about managing my crazy life, my friend. We all make the choices we do for various reasons at various times in our lives – usually with lots of thought and consideration. I am so excited to have someone to vote FOR this year rather than simply voting AGAINST someone that I am happy to refrain from criticizing her family life, and simply waxing happy about Obama. Her basic politics, however, are totally open to discussion, and I am looking forward to the VP debate this year!!

    I was personally offended that his “Hail Sarah” pass (from the editorial page of the WJS earlier this week – it has been interesting to see how the WSJ editors view his choice!) was partially intended to pull dissatisfied Hilary supporters to his camp. Does he seriously think women are going to fall for that? It makes me think even less of him, honestly. Bring on the crazy indeed. Can’t wait to read all of the other links – I will save it for my lunchbreak!

  7. My feelings on the whole Palin thing are in keeping with prevailing tone here, though I have to say I’m a little less reticent than Jordan to connect her personal and political lives. After all, one key tenet of feminism is that personal choices are political ones, too – even as those choices can be “good” or “bad” depending on perspective (and, sometimes, on grounded fact). I think that’s as true for staunch conservatives as for dyed-in-the-wool liberals, for Michelle and Barack Obama as much as Sarah and Todd Palin. Along these lines, I really enjoyed a re-blogged post at Harpers, in which a die-hard conservative unloads on the whole “ain’t that great!” aura around Palin and her daughter. Hear, hear. Maybe the non-controversy over Bristol’s pregnancy indicates that, by golly, the libs have in fact won the culture wars. Not even the more hard-core family-value conservatives are willing to say on the record that it is, in fact, often quite a bad thing for a child to be born to teenagers.

  8. I don’t care if women work and have children…that’s a choice and a decision for every family to make and not one whit my business. I work, I have children, I cook, I clean, I soccer mom around town, I know these things can be done in combination well and happily. I wonder about her specific situation, I admit; I wonder how anyone–mother OR father–could be vice president given all that this parent has on her plate. I wouldn’t be able to be vice president of the PTA under these circumstances, but that’s me. But I’m just wondering, curiously and with some empathetic concern, on that score, and of course, I have my personal judgments about some aspects of this situation. I don’t care, politically, however, one way or the other.

    What I do care about is that this particular woman believes creationism should be taught in schools, has brought up censoring books in her local library, has had a hand in firing people whose “morality” is apparently not in line with her own–including people in a small town who held jobs that they likely could not easily replace for themselves–and believes that abortion should not even be allowed in cases of rape or incest. She is a wart on the butt of uneducated, ignorant humanity, and the GOP gets what they deserve if their choice of Palin was as cynical as it seems. If they thought that swapping one pair of ovaries for another was all that it would take to get the Hilary vote, they’ve got another think coming, as we like to say around here.

  9. Due to the increasingly negative nature of comments that have been left here today, leading to very personal arguments among my readers, I have chosen to delete all comments which were not on track with the point of this post. I have engaged in specific discussions via email today about points raised here by those who either apologized/defended themselves or who wrote in support of me. Further, until I see that things have settled down, I will moderate comments. Thank you for your understanding.

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