Sarah Palin says 17-year-old daughter is pregnant

1 09 2008

I was watching FOX hurricane coverage when the announcer says McCain has just released a statement to this effect, and he knew about it, and it’s private family matters so shut up. Huh? After all that personal family stuff in her “why I am qualified” introduction of herself this weekend? I’m all for family matters being private and have been all along, but for the McCain-Palin campaign and their partisans, that sounds like just another shocking flipflop for political expediency.

15 minutes ago

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Sarah and Todd Palin say their 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant.

The couple said in a statement released by John McCain’s presidential campaign that Bristol will keep her baby.

Sarah Palin is McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

The Alaska governor says Bristol intends to marry the father of her child.

She and the campaign also are asking that the media respect the family’s privacy on this matter.

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26 responses

1 09 2008
JJ

See “Pregnant Teen Girls Gone Wild” for an earlier Thinking Parent look at the issues absent the current hurricane-force partisanship flooding it with inhumanity and blowing us apart.

I think Nance’s “Truth or Truthiness” post applies too, especially for homeschooling parents who will relate to the issues and personalities.

1 09 2008
JJ

Makes Cindy McCain’s complaint this weekend that her family’s wealth was unfairly insulted by the how many houses storyline, seem pretty trivial.

I do honestly hope Bristol Palin gets better treatment from the press than Monica Lewinsky, for example, and that the Palin family is shown vastly more respect for their privacy and dignity than the completely innocent and dignified Elizabeth Edwards was, for example, or than the conservative commentators including homeschooler blogs have shown the Obama family and women generally — but I sure can’t see how they can claim to deserve it if no one else does.

1 09 2008
boremetotears

re: I do honestly hope Bristol Palin gets better treatment from the press

I agree. If Sarah’s son really is Bristol’s, however, that is something worth considering as it reveals Sarah’s capacity for deceit and dishonesty. Hopefully it’s not true – for Bristol’s sake.

1 09 2008
Nance Confer

Screw their privacy. One of the main elements of the R line is to interfere with everyone else’s privacy.

By teaching abstinence-only in public schools, for instance.

And how’s that working out, young Miss Palin?

Nance

1 09 2008
Lisa G.

Actually, since Bristol is 5 months pregnant, according to reports, she can’t be the mother of the youngest son. Or at least the odds are astronomical.

I definitely feel that Palin’s politics are up for discussion, but not Bristol’s pregnancy. She’s not running for office.

1 09 2008
JJ

Hi Lisa – I’m not thinking of it as a moral gotcha against the girl or private family life, at ALL. This is about the governor and her POLITICAL life, the tough reformer standing against corruption and personal exploitation of public powers. Has she misused her office and abused the public trust? Is she lying about that to us now?

There’s no reliable way to sort out which parts of a political story are true, false and fudged, once a coverup of embarassing or even illegal private behavior conflicting with public policy becomes the story.

That the governor already was being investigated for using her public powers to push her own “solution” to a private family problem involving her little sister and teenaged nephew, and for lying about it later for political cover, makes this whole roll-out of her candidacy seem insanely risky and poorly handled, at a MINIMUM.

In other words, her honesty and ethics in office already were on the line and being scrutinized before these strange mismatched “facts” and storylines regarding her own children and parenting.

If there are falsified public documents such as birth certificates, perhaps health insurance fraud or who knows what, it becomes a criminal matter as well as a political black eye, of course to be covered up at all costs!

We certainly don’t know now and may never know what is true, to what lengths this woman would go in protecting herself and her family. But it’s easy to see a compelling narrative quickly taking shape, the ruthless woman of all trades Sarah Barracuda, willing to “do whatever’s necessary” . . .on the heels of the ethically compromised Bush administration and its wars on foreign nations and on our domestic rights, and war on science and truth itself, I can see that as political disaster for Republicans, unless they somehow can change the narrative before the end of the story slams them shut.

In other words, it’s plausible that this latest story and timeline is specifically designed to neutralize/ discredit that even worse one. Which might work, but it’s not a good sign when I notice if it really were true and they’re all happy and it’s no secret or concern, then savvy staffers surely would have arranged to have it all handled differently in her surprise introduction to the public.

This was part of my public policy job for many years btw, so it’s not just something I’m shooting off my mouth about in ignorance of how it works, or doesn’t. Crisis management behind the scenes when news blows up in your face isn’t for the faint of heart! It’s hardly “just the facts ma’am.” . . .

It’s Power of Story too.

1 09 2008
Lisa G.

Totally agree. At this point, it may not even matter if it’s true or not; many have already made up their minds.

1 09 2008
Miriam

Rappant teen pregnancies in this country are not helped by this situation. How are we supposed to deter other teens when this is treated as a “blessed event?” No one is saying that it is
“inappropriate timing in this young girl’s life”
“that she should have waited until she was older or married”
“that though we don’t advocate teen motherhood, we will stand by our daughter”

This is the wrong message to send to teen in America…or around the world. I watched a news program last week entitled “Babyland.” The story detailed the sad but true state of affairs in Memphis, Tennessee which has the hightest rate of infant mortality in the nation. One major causality is teenage mothers. Teens tend not to seek medical care, have underweight babies, and tend to have premature babies.

I also gree with JJ. If it were known in advance about this pregnancy, it would have been handled differently. Palin should have been honest and above board about her family situation.

1 09 2008
Nance Confer

I just heard on the radio from a McCain spokeswoman that McCain knew all about the teen pregnancy during the vetting process and was fine with it.

And I call BS on the idea of leaving family alone. A fine and gentlemanly position for the Presidential candidates but I am no gentleman!

When this woman and this party propose to put all women in the unhealthy position that this 17-year-old is in — limiting young girls’ choices to abstinence-only sex ed and no abortions — I call foul.

This may be the life they want to condemn their daughters to but how dare they suggest that my daughter should be limited to this same limiting fate.

And if it takes holding up the actual daughter of the actual sanctimonious priss running for office to make the point about how ineffective this party’s policies are, so be it.

Nance

1 09 2008
JJ

Nance, I’m not so sure we’re disagreeing with each other. I too think public education travesties and prayer in the presidential debates and conventions, instead of policy debate, and anti-science stealth tactics like “teach the controversy” is all very much fair game and a battle we MUST step to and face, no more wussing with the church ladies.

1 09 2008
Crimson Wife

If Mrs. Palin has been governor of Alaska since 2006, and baby Trig is only 4 months old, it should be pretty easy to find pictorial evidence about whether or not she was recently pregnant.

The bigger question this unfortunate situation raises in my mind is about Mrs. Palin’s character. My DH disagrees with me about this, but I think it reflects poorly on her as a mom. Has she been neglecting her family responsibilities to pursue her own selfish political ambitions?

1 09 2008
Nance Confer

“no more wussing with the church ladies.”

Not when they don’t hesitate to intrude into my life.

Nance

1 09 2008
JJ

Cw, that was the case being made, lots of pictures but she wears some padded vests et cetera and I didn’t find it definitive, just forming my own opinion. OTOH, she apparently told no one, not even close aides until right at the end, and they were stunned. And I saw a picture of her from an earlier pregnancy, the seven-year-old I suppose, and she was HUGE, like me as an older mom. I gained 100+ pounds when I was 35 and had gestational diabetes so I could relate better to that picture than not showing at all as a 44-yr old mother of four already! 🙂

The thing about flying back alone from TX to Alaska the day he was born, without any medical backup or even telling the airline about her imminent delivery, etc. bothers me. I was working during my first pregnanacy and travling on business. I was only 35 and it wasn’t special needs. The doctor forbade me to fly anywhere after the seventh month, the pressurized cabin was the trouble as I recall.

But nothing there that tells us much for sure either way, and I agree it’s an offensive question in the sense that we shouldn’t need to ask it. I am much more concerned about her pentecostal baptism and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership at school, and whatever hidden political ties might make it hard for her to truly “choose” freely for herself or with her daughter, without political calculus overriding. That’s the part that bothers me, that any woman or girl should be in that box, or that any presidential candidate male or female should have to go to Saddleback and pass a religious believer test to even make the cut. Sigh.

1 09 2008
Crimson Wife

I only gained 19 lbs with my 2nd (I had horrible nausea for the entire 9 mos) and didn’t show much until well into my 3rd trimester. I went to the dermatologist when I was 6 mos along for my annual all-over mole check. I was stripped down to my bra & panties for the check but both the doctor and the nurse helping him were surprised when I mentioned that I was pregnant.

I’m 5 mos with #3 and in most loose-fitting outfits I don’t look pregnant yet. My 5 year old recently made the comment that my mother-in-law has a larger belly than I do (out of the mouths of babes, oy!)

1 09 2008
JJ

About the pictorial evidence, or the picture trail I guess we could call it — it exists but is being altered, apparently. Disturbing. Favorite Daughter found this link with some pretty strange stuff, including Palin group protraits that have been redated, and photos of the daughter and her boyfriend’s (husband’s) sister, with baby Trig and “family” type captions. Those pictures were on a MySpace personal page that has now been reset to private, or so the story goes. It is plausible but (of course) also unveriable.

But since you ask . . .

1 09 2008
JJ

If I hear ONE MORE TIME from Republican partisans and evangelicals how wonderful (and private) and loving (and private) this matter is — how it further qualifies her on judgment! — I may have to play moral musical chairs and ask what would have been their political and personal response if the family’s private choice had been otherwise.

2 09 2008
Nance Confer

And don’t you love the line that the 17-yo came to the conclusion to keep the baby all on her own? Riiiight…

Nance

2 09 2008
Nance Confer

Somehow I am more upset by the way the Palin adults are encouraging this young girl to cripple her life, or add to the crippling they have inflicted over the years, than I am about Troopergate or any of the other public scandals Palin is a part of. Like being Stevens’ 527 director? Miss Reformer? Again, riiiight. . .

Nance

2 09 2008
JJ

The Pregnant POW Character Debate -John McCain chose the military life and became a POW. Sarah Palin chose pregnancy for herself and her young daughter, and now has a Down syndrome baby in the family.

Chris Matthews has a brother Jim, who is a Republican and more tanned than he is. 🙂

They were just on MSNBC with Joe Scarborough at the Republican National Convention and as I tuned in, the R brother argued for the McCain- Palin ticket as follows:

Republicans judge politicians by their character. We look for sacrifice in service of principle. John McCain and Sarah Palin are our best candidates to lead because they have proven their character in their private lives — he was a POW who chose not to leave, she chose to support her unwed pregnant daughter and bring a Down Syndrome baby into her family when preventing and/or not continuing those pregnancies was her legal choice.

So who is bringing personal and family decision-making into this race again? This was given as the TOP reason, the only reason, the slam-dunk, the number one qualification for president, given at their party’s convention on nationally televised cable news from a supporter invited to make his best case for them. And what was it? Personal and family choices used to define their unique superiority to lead the entire country. Country First, but led by two megalomaniacal mavericks who don’t care what any actual American people think, or know, or believe or vote for or ask, because McCain and Palin go it alone and make it all about themselves and their own values!

It’s clearly irrational to a policy analyst. McCain and Palin are not being challenged or criticized for these personal and family choices they’ve made; in fact, they themselves and their campaign surrogates are preening all over the place with them and we’re nodding and smiling. Yes, how brave and strong and tough as individuals you must be, we murmur. But if that is so special, so unusual that it’s the top reason YOU should be president, it pretty much disses the rest of us as a nation, doesn’t it? Or else they can’t claim to be special. Otherwise hey, so we could do a jury duty type draft from now on, just assign someone at random to be president for a term and then go home and let the next number drawn serve next?

(I’ve suggested this before btw, it has its merits. But is that really what Maverick John and Sarah Barracuda are suggesting? Don’t think so — I think they’re claiming to be better than the rest of us and by virtue of their virtues, to claim the throne.)

The public generally has no issue with family values, only for their appetite to force one narrow definition of family values on all of us and call it constitutional. Meanwhile their opponent who defends them as family folk and individuals of good character, is smeared as a baby-killer who’s never home with the kids and isn’t qualified to lead. See conservative Christian SpunkyHomeschooling.

[OTOH, see Mrs.C’s Christian blog for a refreshingly reasonable and imo admirable analysis.]

We admire and support personal sacrifices, heck, we award medals for courage under fire and we agree that this country full of American people is amazing that way, when each of us is free to decide for ourselves and express our own life, liberty, happiness and family’s values as we see fit.

But if we accept the importance of choosing, we oppose the military draft that McCain seems to think would be “leadership.” We oppose the anti-science curriculum Palin would put into our public schools, and we oppose the imposition of Palin’s family values on any other family. And we all tend to feel like OUR family values are OUR business and if they want to say the same about their own, then they’re gonna need to live it, not just preach it to the media and to us as they stack our courts against, destroy our diplomacy throughout the world, dumb down civil discourse, and trash the planet in the name of bragging about their own courage and experience and judgment.

What does this noun-verb-maverick-me storyline, damn the torpedoes, this Top Gun Country First fight-fight-fight really say about Family and Parenting and Privacy and Diversity, Conservation and Liberty, not to mention God, Truth, Justice and Humanity?

My Way or the Highway?

UPDATE – Laura Bush is now saying on MSNBC that Cindy McCain should be First Lady because she loves children and has visited poor nations and worked with Project Smile. And now Cindy is saying how remarkable Laura Bush has been as First Lady. And they are both “thrilled” (Laura’s word, do men ever use that word?) to have a Republican woman to vote for. Then Laura Bush just said Sarah Palin is a “brilliant choice” and then the Joe Scarborough female sidekick comes back on and says, wow, they are women but they sure didn’t seem nervous, how admirable!

2 09 2008
JJ

LOL – this may be a first for me, linking to World Nut Daily? But let’s get all the views on the table since the Republicans insist her family life is the issue that qualifies her with presidential character:
“Sarah Palin’s Feminist Folly”

2 09 2008
Kiki

I’m not understanding why the Republicans are absolutely having heart attacks because this has become an issue. It is! It is a testament to how effective abstinence only education is because, I would venture to say, that Palin teaches her children the same values which she claims so vehemently to have in the political sphere, and if this can happen to the daughter of the abstinence only Nazi, then I would say that it would be even less effective with a general public. But then, if she didn’t teach her daughter what she so vocally promotes, then I would have to call into question her sincerity.
Coming from a family in which my cousin had two children before the age of 20, I agree that it is a horrible situation that is not made any easier by being under public scrutiny, but I don’t agree that is should be taboo; it should not be exploited, but it should be examined.

2 09 2008
COD

My wife saw something about the young father to be had a Myspace page where he was not talking about getting married… So essentially we have a shotgun marriage for the sake of mom’s political ambitions.

2 09 2008
JJ

Bonjour, Mademoiselle Kiki, entre donc! (is that anywhere close?) 😉

My position on creating life is that what counts is creating A life. IOW giving life is just biology; living life is EVERYTHING. I am creating my own life every day, and the highest privilege of motherhood is helping my children create their own lives each day.

So as a dedicated mom and home educator, I say teenaged girls growing to independence and maturity, do still need and deserve all sorts of parental and family guidance and support, as they pass through puberty, become sexually active, need access to health and contraception resources, and/or become pregnant and plan to marry. (Also as they are bombarded with commercial con games, military recruiting, religious indocrination and political lies, but that’s another post — isn’t it?) 😉

On top of the normal teen maturation process, let’s say a girl has mononucleosis for months and months, which makes her so weak and ill that she’s withdrawn from high school for the year to be “homeschooled” instead. And THEN on top of that, she is five months pregnant to boot and thinking she’s ready to marry the baby’s father at some point and head her own family? Dad’s around but where is mom? She’s hunting moose and caribou, driving to hockey games, recently and secretly pregnant herself at 44, and oh, commanding Alaska’s national guard and angling for a veep nod.

Is it in this particular girl’s best interest for her mother to define motherhood at any age as the wages of sex, to demand the girl tough it out like she did and pretend it isn’t happening so it won’t get in the way, and then assign her young pregnant daughter primary care of the family’s four-month-old Down syndrome baby, and then thrust her into the hottest public spotlight possible by schlepping her across the country to stand at silent attention behind her politician hockey mom holding said special-needs baby like a prop?

Dunno, and it’s not my job to decide. It was Sarah Palin’s job to decide. My job is to scrutinize her candidacy as vice-president of this country, and I can only go by what her party tells me. So far her hockey mom, special-needs baby and pregnant daughter guidance is being touted to the heavens by that party’s base as the best, most exciting proof available of her readiness to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Harrison Ford and Martin Sheen both played presidential fathers whose young daughters were being held hostage to force them to compromise the country. In those storylines, they were both clear — as commander-in-chief they would be compromised by their love for their own child and so someone else would have to run the country.

They chose Daughter First.

2 09 2008
JJ

Hi Chris, that’s the Levi from Wasilla myspace page, right? I saw that too, and that guy is 25 years old (hardly a high school boyfriend then, more saccharine spin) and already a proud father with baby pictures, and his sister’s page has pictures of Bristol Palin as a family member (related through the baby? that’s the suggestion.)

I think that’s where a lot of the weekend pressure was coming from, to say something official even if it were damaging, to head off what might be much worse. But again, who knows and why on earth would John McCain have decided to take all this on, and present her as he did, if he really knew everything before choosing her?

2 09 2008
COD

I didn’t see the Myspace page personally so I don’t know…

2 09 2008
JJ

And here’s something from Katha Pollitt in The Nation with details about this “Feminists for Life” political action group Palin claims to be a member of (along with the Catholic wife of our sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.)

Here the conclusion would be that Sarah Palin is a tough cookie as the Rs claim, but she isn’t any sort of feminist at all, she’s actually a “fetalist.” In other words, women don’t matter and cannot be trusted to make their own decisions as free moral agents. They must be infantalized and cared for (literally like Terri Schiavo?) so they will do the right thing, and the law must make sure they do, and punish anyone who might lead them astray:

It is indeed feminist to say no woman should have to abort a wanted child to stay in school or have a career–FFL’s line is thus an advance on the more typical antichoice position, which is that women have abortions to go to Europe or fit into their prom dress. You can see why their upbeat, rebellious slogans–“refuse to choose,” “question abortion,” “women deserve better”–appeal to students. (But what do those students think when they find that the postabortion resources links are all to Christian groups and that FFL’s sunny pregnancy-assistance advice includes going on food stamps or welfare?) Exposing the constraints on women’s choices, however, is only one side of feminism. The other is acknowledging women as moral agents, trusting women to decide what is best for themselves. For FFL there’s only one right decision: Have that baby. And since women’s moral judgment cannot be trusted, abortion must be outlawed, whatever the consequences for women’s lives and health–for rape victims and 12-year-olds and 50-year-olds, women carrying Tay-Sachs fetuses and women at risk of heart attack or stroke, women who have all the children they can handle and women who don’t want children at all.

FFL argues that abortion harms women–that’s why it clings to the outdated cancer claims. But it would oppose abortion just as strongly if it prevented breast cancer, filled every woman’s heart with joy, lowered the national deficit and found Jimmy Hoffa. That’s because they aren’t really feminists–a feminist could not force another woman to bear a child, any more than she could turn a pregnant teenager out into a snowstorm. They are fetalists.

Btw, please note the piece was written three years ago, right before the last Republican hurricane, before Hurricane Sarah showed up on anybody’s radar as a potential disaster.

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