New Pic of Bristol! DON’T LOOK!

6 09 2008

Hat tip to Mudflats reader Drew Brown for this TIVO capture.

You looked, didn’t you. So did I. What do we make of that?

How do we sort out the rumor, policy issues, competence issues, judgement issues and gossip? Where do the lines blur between them? Is it fair to talk about her pregnant teen daughter Bristol? Is it fair to ask questions about her marital fidelity, or if she is Trig’s real mother? When does gossip become a rumor, and rumor become plausible, and plausible rumor become verified fact? These questions are good because they make us at least stop and examine how the media does business, and how we judge our political candidates, and ultimately where we place the only real power we have – our vote.

Is Bristol fair game? Our first instinct is probably, no. Family is off limits. But what happens when family matters demonstrate decision making ability, criteria for judgment, and how the candidate will enact potential policy decisions? That changes things.

Sarah Palin has repeatedly said that having her baby is Bristol’s ‘decision’. And isn’t Bristol lucky to have a decision, and a supportive family, and someone who wants to marry her, and parents who are well-off and willing to help her, and the help of a nanny. Yes, she is. And, frankly, it would be a mistake to question the family’s decision because it is their decision, and that’s the point. The crux of this issue is that Palin believes other girls like Bristol should have no decision – not in the case of rape, or incest, or both. Not if you’re 12 or 20 or 55, rich or poor, married or alone, sick or well, able or disabled.

Palin believes her daughter should not have had a choice, even if she had been raped, even if she had been 12, and even if she had been a victim of incest, or all three. And she doesn’t think any other family should have a choice either. Really. Entitled to her opinion? Yes. Will mainstream America agree? Not if you believe the statistics.

So, given the fact that teens will be teens, and subject to the potential of hormone-induced bad judgment, what is Palin’s solution? Surely, we all want to prevent as many unwanted pregnancies as possible. Right now, because of Roe v. Wade, choice is the law. We know that all across the country, teenage girls, like her daughter, are getting pregnant by accident and having legal abortions. What would Palin propose to do about it? Something that doesn’t work. Her solution is abstinence only. No sex education. No information. No birth control. Just say no. She, herself, can see in a real and clear way, that this doesn’t work. Just ask Bristol. And just ask Sarah, who was pregnant when she married Todd.

So what does all this this tell us? She makes important policy decisions based on religious conviction. She sticks with failed policy, even when the failure is obvious and hard-hitting. She believes in taking away currently available decisions for all of America, despite the fact that the majority of Americans oppose it. Qualities we want in a president?

And yes, I say president, and not vice president. Anyone accepting the role of Vice President stands a very real chance of becoming president by succession. The odds are better than 30%.

When looking at the scandalous pictures, and reading the scads of gossip that is bubbling up in Alaska and wending its circuitous way toward main stream media coverage, we need to ask ourselves how they may demonstrate Palin’s stated policy decisions, decision making ability and the criteria she uses to make them. And we will, no doubt, get caught up in the personal scandals, because we’re human. But let’s watch what else they teach us.

And just for good measure, what does John McCain feel about this?

The Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, opposed funding to prevent teen pregnancies, a position that Palin also took as governor. “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” she wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates.Reporters asked McCain in November 2007 whether he supported grants for sex education in the United States, whether such programs should include directions for using contraceptives or whether he supports President Bush’s policy of promoting abstinence.

“Ahhh, I think I support the president’s policy,” McCain said.

Ahhhhh, I think we’re in trouble.