Responses to Palin situation

(This entry contains comments on the Sarah Palin controversy from September 2 and now September 3.)

Steve D. writes:

Laura W. is absolutely right, and this situation has suddenly become profoundly depressing. You warned that McCain could signify the end of the conservative movement in America, but you never provided details. Well, now we know: McCain just handed a gun to conservatism, and the movement shot itself in the head. Willingly. Eagerly. It makes me wonder if there is, in fact, anything left of traditional America outside of a few people talking to each other online.

LA writes:

Here’s the closest anyone at the Corner has come to disapproving of Palin over her family situation. Jay Nordlinger writes:

I wish that the news about Palin’s daughter had been released the first day—the day Palin was announced. I wish it had been part of the general news about her and her family—the introduction. Why? Because the dribbling out of the news a few days later … makes the ticket look somehow sneaky. Deceptive. The news taints the whole Palin roll-out, just a bit. It takes the bloom off the rose, just a bit. Plus, many people don’t believe that the McCain team knew about the pregnancy, in advance. And, frankly, I don’t blame them.

That said, Palin is a sensation—something that the Republican party has not seen much of in a long time. I’ll have more to say (which is just as much a warning as a promise!).

And if the news had been released on Friday, perhaps at the event in Dayton, Nordlinger would have had no problem with it.

Terry Morris writes:

LA wrote: “And if the news had been released on Friday, perhaps at the event in Dayton, Nordlinger would have had no problem with it.”

Indeed. And Nordlinger represents the majority of “conservatives,” I suspect. It wouldn’t have taken much, either. Just some dressed up phraseology to make it sound all warm and fuzzy and nice and chummy, and the whole lot would have been mesmerized by it. It makes ya wonder why the McCain campaign thought it better to wait 72 hours.

LA replies:

I don’t agree at all. To have announced the Bristol preganancy at the Palin announcement on Friday would have cast a weird pall over the whole thing.

Buddy in Atlanta writes:

One of the more mind-boggling aspects of the Palin affair is the “what was she thinking?” factor. If I were the mother of an unwed pregnant teen and the Republican presidential nominee approached me about being his running mate, the natural response would be, “Gee, that’s awful nice of you, but there’s a major crisis that my family is dealing with right now, so thanks, but no thanks.”

For her to accept, she had to be thinking either, “No one will find out,” or, “It won’t matter”—and both notions are instantly recognizable as false to anyone with any common sense. Illegitimacy and the related issue of abortion are at the center of our national debates, and the names Gary Hart and John Edwards should ring a bell when it comes to trying to keep secrets.

So, what happened? Did she get so caught up by the thought of becoming vice-president that she recklessly chose to accept the invitation? But it also makes me wonder—maybe the runner-ups (Romney, Pawlenty) had even bigger skeletons in their closets, which made Palin’s problem seem manageable by comparison.

LA replies:

We have to assume that McCain and Palin were planning to reveal the Bristol situation. But the oddity is that when Palin did reveal it, she said she was revealing it only in order to counter the “grandmother of Trig” charge. Which raises the question, if there had not been the “granmother of Trig” charge, when (if ever) would Palin have revealed the Bristol situation?

Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:

Sarah Palin is a member for a group called “Feminists for Life”, a clever play on words.

Their mission states: “If you believe no woman should be forced to choose between pursuing her education and career plans and sacrificing her child … join us in challenging the status quo.”

Spencer Warren writes:

One of VFR’s finest hours has been your and your commenters’ work since last week. Heartiest congrats as you reap the rewards of all your hard work on VFR over the years! [LA replies: What rewards would those be?] No one could be making a greater contribution to public debate in these difficult times as you—and your commenters.

I think Mr. Mason’s comment analyzing Obama’s rootlessness and appeal to voters is very perceptive.

I am beginning to think Obama may represent the kind of existential threat that you have written would be the only reason you would vote for McCain.

Alan Levine writes:

I may not agree with every single thing you have said about the Palin issue, but you are just about the only commentator I have seen or heard who has retained his sanity! Have the Republicans lost their senses? My initial reaction to Palin was that this was a ridiculous gimmick, just as the Ferraro nomination was for the Democrats in the 1980s, but that it was unlikely, at least, that she could have anything as bad as Ferraro’s mob connections in her baggage.

Am awaiting the appearance of nude pictures of the candidate. And, the way things are going, there WILL be nude pictures.

LA writes:

My discussion of Palin, quoted favorably by left-liberal James Wolcott at Vanity Fair, is now also discussed favorably (sort of) at the harder left Daily Kos.

Joel LeFevre writes:

“This is a spectacle worthy of a trailer park, not the White House.”

Ahem! #!!#$*^* :-O

LA replies:

You think that was unfair to people who live in trailer parks?

Oh, I get it! Sorry!


LA explains:

Mr. LeFevre and his wife currently reside, quite happily and Christianly, in a trailer park in Pennsylvania. Of course trailer parks are perfectly respectful places to live. And my use of the phrase “trailer park” in this entry was unfair. But it was the only phrase that came to mind at the moment to make my point. Apologies to all dwellers in trailer parks.

LA writes:

See Jay Nordlinger’s post at the Corner about a conservative correspondent of his who is the complete opposite of myself. Instead of being bothered by the Bristol Palin revelation and what it says about Gov. Palin’s candidacy, he’s so bothered by the the media’s attacks on Palin over the Bristol situation that he supports the McCain candidacy more than ever.

Scott H. writes:

It seems Dr. Laura agrees with you also, at least a little …

You, sir, are doing fine work.

Thank you!

LA writes:

Paul Cella of the traditonalist religious website, What’s Wrong with the World, taking Palin’s side, has replied to me in the thread, “Conservatives lining up obediently—no, eagerly,” and I have replied to him.

Robert B. writes:

Re Eagleton comparison: Yes, and McGovern got his clock cleaned in the general election. There is no comparison between a teen who got pregnant and a man with mental health issues.

Robert B. writes:

You both [LA and Laura?] are forgetting where they live—Alaska, which in itself is a small, rural town. The mother married her HS sweetheart, the daughter will most likely as well. This is how life still exists in small town, rural America—as if time, in some regards, has stood still.

You are aware that my grandfather moved his children to his farm during the Great Depression. But his sons never went to the rural school and had very little contact with the locals other than work related activities. They were driven into town to attend a very exclusive private school—where everyone, like my grandparents, married much later than the masses did. Had my grandfather chosen otherwise, I am sure my father and his brother would have met and married “local” girls. They most likely would have either married them before starting college, during or shortly there after.

This is the way of rural America. It was once the way of all of America for the working classes.

LA replies:

I note how people keep bringing up their family’s and their more distant ancestors’ experiences (lot of commenters at do this), as though they prove something about Bristol’s situation, when in reality they prove nothing.

Robert B. writes:

On the trust issue—there is no doubt she informed McCain of her daughter’s pregnancy. It was McCain that pooh poohed it. The trust issue is with him, not her. [LA replies: you have got to be kidding. She’s not a part of this process? She’s not responsible for what she does as well as McCain? This is an example of how people in their total identification with Glass-Ceiling Gun-Totin” Sarah will resort to any weak argument.]

Again, in their world, this is probably not so uncommon. In the book, “Albion’s Seed,” the author talks about such issues with the Puritans. As part of a young adults maturation and mate picking, they would send the boy to another town to meet suitable young women. Once one was found, they would have them spend the night together (ala “The Patriot” when his son spends the night with his soon to be wife) stitched up in a gunny sack to prevent contact along with a wooden divider in the middle of the bed. This was done to see if they were compatible. As Fischer points out, though (and so also in the movie), the sacks were very often easy enough to get out of and later stitched back up. This resulted in a quick wedding—a “shotgun wedding” without the shotgun being necessary. [LA replies: Robert, you are suggesting that high school jock Levi Johnston knocking up Bristol Palin is our cultures’s equivalent of the custom of “bundling” in Puritan and Colonial times, which was part of a stable, Christian, marriage centered culture! Unbelievable.]

These marriages lasted, as has Palin’s, due to societal support for young marriages which assuredly no longer exists in the big cities—such as NYC or Boston, or even here in small St. Paul. But, that communal support still exists in rural America—indeed, here in Minnesota, in the outlying areas, teen marriages are the norm, not the exception. These marriages last—the vast majority. I have people I know from the region of our farm, who married their High School sweethearts 30 years ago—and they are still married. And, what’s more, they are happily married and love their grandchildren—and support their children in this regard. Imagine me—with such young children by comparison. To them, I am a wonderment, in a way. But they also very clearly, understand the difference in our lives and the acculturation that went with it.

Robert B. writes:

My intent is not to refute the pregnancy problem, but merely to point out (a) the differences between urban and rural life and (b) that it is a problem as old as America, the difference being the responsibility of modern urban males versus those of yesteryear and rural “trailer park trash.” However, trashy would be if they did not get married—and in fact, they should already be married.

In this day and age, with teenagers allowed to have access to abortion on demand, without parental consent, she is acting in a “conservative” manner by getting married and having it. The parents are acting in a traditional manner by supporting their union.

This has become the state of affairs in this country—I am not passing judgment on it per se, but merely pointing out the realities of life. And I know from life experience, this is not new.

Robert B. continues:

I just wanted you to know that her daughter would have most likely married this guy whether she got pregnant or not.

Rural American still marries the boy/girl next door, so to speak. And, more often than not, at least in my generation, they stay married. Life here in “fly over country” is very different from elsewhere. The only changes that have occurred in that sense in my life time, have been those wrought by outsiders—East and West coasters that move here and want it to be like where they came from.

Philip M. writes from England:

“This is a spectacle worthy of a trailer park, not the White House”

Actually, this is a spectacle unworthy of a trailer park. Please don’t start falling into the lazy anti-white stereotypes that say that poor whites cannot look after their children properly. I find it perfectly possible to believe in an America in which the poorest white women look after their children, Lawrence.

Sorry, sermon over.

p.s. I agree, Laura’s contribution about teen mothers was outstanding.

Derek C. writes:

Not much to be added to the overall discussion. One thought that stands out, though: If conservatives are convinced to vote for McCain because of Palin, then they’re every bit as stupid as McCain thinks they are.

Ed L. writes:

I was displeased that Obama inserted himself into the Palin mess and bluntly declared her family life is “off-limits” to public scrutiny. As far as I’m concerned, you and I, as voters, shall be the ones who judge the relevance of that. We don’t need any input or ethical guidance from him on this. It is not for him to circumscribe the bounds of public thought and inquiry. The admonishing tone of his statement comes across as no less abrasive than his cynical attempt to brush off public attention to Wright as a “distraction.”

Not only that; Obama went further. He added that his own mother was 18 when she gave birth to him. In doing that, he’s effectively adding his voice to the “no big deal” chorus. He’s implicitly telling Democrats not to attack Palin too strongly on the out-of-wedlock pregnancy question, since attention might then soon turn to the far greater illegitimacy rate among blacks (70 percent). Obama, understandably, wants to head that off, since it would embarrass and antagonize his core constituency.

DM writes:

Question for Mark J.:

What exactly is the problem with saying a woman should stay at home with young children? Men have traditionally not been primary child care providers. In my lifetime, there was the prevalent view that child care was a woman’s responsibility.

Ron L. writes:

Why is Governor Palin the best person to get Senator Clinton’s voters?

Like Hillary she is a woman, and like Bill, she will bring the trailer park back to Washington!

LA writes:

By a Powerline commenter:

if the young lady would have decided to keep the child and not marry would that also have been “a personal decision” that shouldn’t be commented on?

September 3

Shrewsbury writes:

Mrs. Palin, in an October 2007 interview:

Monocle: Back to the running-mate question. Say the Democratic ticket is Clinton-Obama, a woman and a black man. You can see why the party might approach you.

Sarah Palin: That’s diversity right there isn’t it? Wow! And who do the Republicans have? Good old rich white boys. I think that’s another factor that has to be considered by the Republicans, that in some way their candidates are a reflection of more politics as usual. Not to slam the good old rich boys, but it sure wouldn’t hurt for a new energy and new perspective to be enveloped by the Republican Party.

So let’s all get on board with the new perspective to be enveloped.

Steve D. writes:

I’ve written on a couple occasions that what seemed at first to be questionable judgment on McCain’s part turned out to be (possibly) Machiavellian cunning. Perhaps there is another aspect of the Palin debacle that needs to be addressed.

Kidist points out the mission statement of Feminists for Life: “If you believe no woman should be forced to choose between pursuing her education and career plans and sacrificing her child … join us in challenging the status quo.” This, in somewhat clumsy and disingenuous prose, is nothing more than the “have it all” philosophy that feminism has always preached: begone sacrifice! be damned to consequences! you too can be a loving wife, doting mother, and successful careerist!

As such, Palin could become, not a reviled and rejected example of the worst trends in American motherhood, but the embodiment of the feminist promise: she is having it all. She’s a role model! Bravely coping with family crisis, while still putting in a full day’s work on the campaign trail—think how inspiring that could be! Even this can be converted to a positive, if it can be used to reach those Democratic and independent (and even Republican) women who believe so strongly in the myth of the modern Wonder Woman that they’ll cast their votes in order to see it embodied.

This race could wind up being between competing messiahs.

Stephen T. writes:

Andrew T. wrote:

“In the Palin household there is one family member who will be able to hold down the fort while Sarah is VP. That is her husband, someone who is deleted by the public consciousness in all this.”

That’s a good point. And though some in the opinion media are suggesting that Sarah should be obligated to assume the role of stay-at-home grandma to help raise 17-yr old Bristol’s newborn, I remind all that there is yet another support system involved in all this: The parents/family of the 17-year old father. We haven’t heard anything from them yet. But, I suspect we will.

John Hagan writes:

This kind of treatment of Palin is rallying the Republican base like nothing I have ever seen. Can’t say I blame them after seeing this magazine cover. Check out the comments by the Freepers. Incredible rage.

Adela G. writes:

It’s fun to watch a train of thought derail. At Daily Kos, TheBlaz writes:

“I’m not fan of Auster, but if you give a chimp enough paint and enough time, eventually he’ll paint something wortwhile[sic].”

A typically narcissistic leftist, he begins with a disclaimer about you, then weirdly veers off into commenting on his own artistic efforts. (I can only hope he’s a better painter than he is a speller.) Perhaps I could encourage him by sending a him a crate of bananas along with some more paint.

Adela G. writes:

Here’s an article with a picture of Levi. I bet those yo-yo’s at the Dallas Morning News will nominate him for Father of the Year.

Good luck, Bristol, something tells me you’re going to need it.

LA replies:

Notice how the whole world has accepted the statement by Mr. and Mrs. Palin that Levi will be marrying Bristol, while we’ve heard not a peep from Levi and his parents to that effect.

Gintas writes:


In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, in literature the equivalent of the Greek goddess Artemis, though in cult she was Italic in origin.

Here’s an up-to-date version:

In Republican mythology, Sarah was the goddess of the hunt, in literature the equivalent of the Greek goddess Artemis, though in cult she was Alaskan in origin.

LA replies:


To which we could add:

Sara, oh Sara,
Glamorous nymph, with an arrow and bow.
Sara, oh Sara,
Don’t ever leave me, don’t ever go.

(Bob Dylan, “Sara,” 1975.)

Gintas replies:

I found the page on Diana, but I was looking for some image of a female god statue, onto which I could paste an Oprah head. Like this. (The original is something of Diana in the Louvre.)

It really should be a picture of Sarah Palin there, though. Give me a few minutes.

LA replies:

The result of Gintas’s efforts is posted on the main page.

Paul K. writes:

Among other evidence that the Sarah Palin nomination has lowered conservative standards, Peggy Noonan tosses out rather a vulgar word while coming to her defense:

“Dig deep into Sarah Palin, get all you can, talk to everybody, get every vote, every quote, tell us of her career and life, she may be the next vice president. But don’t play games. And leave her kid alone, bitch.”

Is this a first?

LA replies:

It was Palin who brought her kid to our attention. Then the entire pro-Palin “conservative” world went wild about how the kid having the baby was the greatest thing since the first chapter of Genesis and made Palin the most qualified person to lead America! But now we’re supposed to “leave the kid alone.” Meaning we can’t talk about the very thing that the “conservatives” are celebrating?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 02, 2008 08:55 AM | Send

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