This piece was originally published a couple of months ago on the Blowfish Blog. I wouldn’t have thought that my Sarah Palin piece would have much shelf life after the election. But the woman just keeps coming back like a bad penny. Or like the Terminator. So I thought it would be appropriate to remind everybody of why — exactly — she would be such a disaster in any sort of national public office.
About the pregnant seventeen year old, I mean.
I suppose this is an abdication of my responsibility as a lefty sex writer. But I just don’t care that much that the 2008 Republican nominee for vice-president has a 17-year-old daughter who’s unmarried and pregnant.
I don’t even care all that much about the hypocritical double standard: how Sarah Palin and the Republicans want us to respect Bristol Palin’s personal and sexual privacy but don’t want to respect anyone else’s. That sort of double standard isn’t the most charming trait in the world, especially in an elected official… but it’s also very human. We all cut slack, and make excuses, and act protectively, for the people we’re close to. It’s probably not morally perfect, but I’m not sure I’d want to live in a world where it wasn’t true.
When it comes to Sarah Palin, here’s what I do care about.
I care that Sarah Palin thinks that the war in Iraq is part of God’s plan.
I care that Sarah Palin thinks religious creationism should be taught as science in public schools.
I care that Sarah Palin thinks dinosaurs and people may have lived at the same time.
I care that Sarah Palin doesn’t know enough about foreign policy to know what the Bush Doctrine is… and that she seems to think she has foreign policy experience because “you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.” (Or, as Tina Fey put it, “I can see Russia from my house!”)
I care that Sarah Palin thinks that Jesus Christ will — not that he may, but that he will — come back to Earth in her lifetime.
I could go on. And on. And on. I care that she approvingly quoted a racist, anti-Semitic nutbag who called for Robert Kennedy’s assassination. I care that she lies, repeatedly, about whether she sought and accepted pork barrel money from Congress for her town and her state. I care that her only government experience is as a city councilmember of a town of less than 10,000, as mayor of said town, and as governor of Alaska for less than two years. I care that, as Matt Damon put it (yes, you heard me, Matt Damon — it’s an amazing video and you’ve got to watch it), the prospect of a Palin presidency is “like a really bad Disney movie.” I care… oh, you get the picture.
And I care that the McCain campaign and the Republican party were so sloppy in vetting her that they keep getting ambushed with new outrages and inanities about her, every day of the campaign. I care that their thought process in picking her was apparently not, “Who might be qualified to be President if the 72- year-old McCain dies?” but, “How can we get evangelicals and disaffected female Hillary supporters to vote for McCain?” I care that Palin was nominated, in large part, because the GOP (a) wanted to get women voters, and (b) thinks women voters are idiots. I care that they view their Vice- Presidential nominee as, essentially, Dan Quayle in a dress.
Oh, and since this is a sex column:
I care that Sarah Palin opposes birth control being made available to teenagers.
I care that Sarah Palin supports the grossly failed, grotesquely inaccurate “abstinence only” sex education policy — which flat-out lies to children and teenagers about sex, and which completely fails to reduce teenage sex, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy.
I care that Sarah Palin reportedly tried to get a pro-gay book — not even an erotic gay book or a gay sex information book, but a book by a pastor arguing that homosexuality and Christianity are not mutually exclusive — banned from her town’s public library.
I care that, as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin was responsible for a policy in which rape victims had to pay for their own rape kits. (No, I’m not kidding. A policy that not only further victimizes the victims, but ensures that rapists of poor women will get away with it. And a policy, btw, that McCain also supports, with multiple votes in Congress.)
In other words, I care that, on issues of sex, sexual freedom, and sexual information, Sarah Palin is not only a right winger — she is on the far, far right end of that right wing.
You know, there’s something people often forget about the Presidential elections and the Vice President. And that is this: The Vice President’s most important job isn’t to “balance the ticket.” Or to deliver their home state. Or to do a lot of stump speeches in the campaign. Or, when elected, to go to a lot of state dinners that the President doesn’t have time for.
Their most important job is to be President if the President dies.
(Especially if the President has a 1 in 3 chance, statistically speaking, of dying in office.)
And this is a job that Sarah Palin is grotesquely unqualified to do.
But she’s not unqualified because she has a pregnant teenage daughter.
That can happen to anyone. Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, person of integrity or total hypocrite, sane member of the reality- based community or deluded religious extremist. I was about Bristol Palin’s age when I started having sex, and I wasn’t always careful about birth control, and it could very easily have happened to me, with my leftie, beatnik, agnostic parents. And I don’t think it would have proven very much about them at all. It would have proven that (a) teenagers are often horny, and (b) teenagers are often careless and stupid.
You can argue, as Dan Savage and others have, that Sarah Palin has no right to expect privacy for her own family when she has such callous disregard for the privacy of anybody else. You can argue that, given her policies on birth control for teenagers and abstinence only sex education and such, her daughter’s pregnancy is fair game. You can even argue that her mulish refusal to reconsider her positions on things like teen birth control and abstinence-only sex ed in the face of her daughter’s pregnancy (in contrast to, say, the way Barry Goldwater reconsidered his position on gay rights when his granddaughter came out) shows a stubborn denial in the face of reality that makes her unfit for high office.
You can argue that. You could probably make a good case for it. But I’m not going to. There are lots of reasons why Sarah Palin is grossly unqualified to be Vice-President (as well as lots of reasons why John McCain is grossly unqualified to be President). But in my opinion, her daughter’s pregnancy is not one of them.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about it, ever. I wouldn’t say that, what with the hypocrisy and the abstinence-only sex education and all. Heck, here I am, talking about it right this minute. I’m saying that, in the scheme of things, it’s just not that big a deal. I’m saying that we have much, much better reasons not to vote for this person. I’m saying that we have bigger, and better, fish to fry.