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The Obligatory Sarah Palin Column, or, Why I Don’t Care About A Pregnant 17 Year Old

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.

Sarah palin 1
I just don’t care that much.

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.

Iraqi teenager killed by U.S. Soldiers, Buhriz, Iraq
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.

Robert_F._Kennedy_1964
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:

Coat hanger
I care that Sarah Palin is so rabidly opposed to abortion that she even opposes it in cases of rape or incest.

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.

Pastor i am gay
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.

Dear diary i'm pregnant
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.

Comments

  1. Jon Berger says

    One quick point about the rape kits. I can’t remember my source for this, but for what an unattributed rumor is worth, I’ve read that Alaska has a very high, or perhaps the highest, per capita occurrence of rape among the 50 states, and that a vast proportion of the victims are native Alaskan. If that’s true, and it might be, that means that the “pay for your own investigation” policy isn’t just sexist, it’s also racist. Just one more thing to love about Palin.
    I do have to say, though, in all fairness, that before the big flap about it, I never knew what the “Bush Doctrine” was either. I mean, I knew that Bush kind of thought that way, but I’d never heard it referred to by that phrase. The Bush Doctrine could have had something to do with brush clearing or mountain biking, for all I knew. I’m not so sure that Palin’s failure to be familiar with this phrase counts as a point against her. Plenty of other things do, though.

  2. says

    I do have to say, though, in all fairness, that before the big flap about it, I never knew what the “Bush Doctrine” was either.

    Neither did I. I mean, I’d heard the phrase, and I knew what Bush’s doctrine was as far as Iraq and foreign policy… but I also hadn’t really put the two together.
    But I wasn’t running for Vice President.
    I expect the people who run for high office to know a LOT more about things like foreign policy and economics and public policy than I do. I expect them to be a LOT more conversant with national and world events than I am. I probably couldn’t tell you the names of all the major world leaders… but I sure expect the President and Vice President to be able to.
    It doesn’t make someone a bad or stupid person if they can’t, just like it doesn’t make someone a bad or stupid person if they don’t know how to use SQL queries to upload and correct product descriptions to a company website. But it sure would make me a bad and stupid employee if I didn’t know how to do that, since it’s, you know, my job. Sarah Palin was applying for a job for which knowing things like the Bush Doctrine was essential. She didn’t — and that’s relevant. (Plus she kept trying to bullshit her way through the interview, acting as if she knew things that she clearly didn’t.)

  3. Jon Berger says

    I grant you the bullshitting; that wasn’t pretty to watch. I’m just trying to draw a distinction between knowing that Bush favored certain things — unilateral military action against countries which we claim give aid to what we claim are terrorist groups, basically — and knowing that the phrase “Bush Doctrine” applies to those things. I have no idea when the phrase came into common enough usage in political/military circles that Palin should have recognized it, and without knowing that, I have no way of assessing whether it’s a fair criticism or not. The phrase has been around since 2002-ish, according to Wikipedia, but I’m not sure, for example, that I fault Palin for not having read and remembered some article by Norman Podhoretz on the “Our Jerusalem” web site.
    Maybe everybody but you and me knew what “Bush Doctrine” meant; maybe all well-informed politicians did; maybe it was only common among journalists. I just don’t know. It’s entirely possible that not knowing the phrase was indeed symptomatic of her unfitness for office; I’m just saying that I’m not quite willing to taunt her with “You didn’t even know what the Bush Doctrine was” without a little more information on whether that’s something she ought to have known or not.

  4. Awua says

    Sorry, but I’m an ordinary blue-collar worker and I knew what the dang Bush Doctrine was.
    I also came name newspapers I read (not that I read any often, since I think most of them are crap). I can even name some of the more famous reporters and columnists!
    I can also list off multiple Supreme Court cases, AND what they were about!
    Now if a dummy like me, who didn’t even finish college, can do that, why can’t someone who is running for Vice President?
    You don’t give an idiot slack for being an idiot. And Sarah Palin is an idiot.
    No, scratch that. She’s a fucking moron.

  5. Sandra says

    I just found your blog through an atheist group on Facebook. Your “Atheists and Anger” post was linked on a discussion there. I have been reading your blog all morning. I have so much that I should be doing instead, but found this to be a worthy way to procrastinate. I am so glad I found it. I appreciate the careful thought that you clearly put into your writing. Anyway, just wanted to share how much I have enjoyed reading your work!

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