Palin Parenting Pregnancy Pomp (and Circumstance)

22 05 2009

2009-05-21-bristolpeople teen mom glam

Good for her, plucky Bristol Palin somehow managed to “finish high school” as an unwed teen mother. Here she is on the cover of People magazine role-modeling in vivid glossy glam to show young girls what it’s like to have it all at the age of 18.

So now, the Palins are fabulously dressing up their daughter’s situation. After all, the Gov. has her eye on a future White House run.

Governor Palin fabulously dressing up for a White House run? We remember that drill, baby.

Is R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Dress?
For instance:

And let’s not even get started on the recent object lesson of conservatives like oh, Sarah Palin for instance, putting undue emphasis on and investment into wardrobe, instead of knowledge and ideas!

See also Dress for Success Power of Story.

There’s only one moment in Bristol’s People interview that actually sounds heartbreakingly real. She admits that she skipped her prom — ” I don’t have that kind of time. And the dress is, like, $400, and the shoes, hair, makeup, it’s way too expensive.”

Wow. Her mom enjoyed a free $150,000 wardrobe and $50,000 worth of makeup during the presidential campaign, and she wouldn’t babysit and fork over the money to get her daughter a dress for a once in a lifetime prom. As Bristol admitted, “It kind of sucked, to tell you the truth!”

Yeah Bristol, you’re right and no glossy People magazine article can make up for the fact that being a teen mom sucks.

Too bad most girls who look at you on the newsstand will get exactly the opposite impression. . .

Visuals pack image punch, and image matters in public life, and nobody knows this better than the Palins. These are the visuals and images they intend; the Palin parents spare no expense to fashion these images and fit into them for the cameras.

So — looking at how they choose to dress up their values and pose the kids for photographs, I just don’t get Sarah Palin as any sort of parenting role model, much less a family-friendly public policy trailblazer. Michelle Obama is my speed, for her own daughters at home and in the public eye, for our daughters too.

How about you?

Obama mom?

“I need my kids to be solid. I was more worried about them than anything — anything. How I was going to feel, how people were going to … none of that mattered. I worried most and felt the deepest sense of pull in making sure that my kids felt good about this and that they felt good about themselves, and that they were happy, and that they were on track.”

Or Palin mom?

No wonder her culture has embedded in her story a smugness toward the rest of us Americans, and our petty economic and urban problems . . . That’s not just personal, that’s political power of story too.

. . .The beautiful, accomplished Scarlett O’Hara [so egocentric and poorly educated that Rhett Butler sneered, “A cat’s a better mother!”] once tossed her pretty head in denial and said “war, war, war, fiddle-dee-dee” in much the same way Palin now tosses her pretty head and says “global warming, community organizer, fiddle-dee-dee” — neither is overtly racist or sexist, in informed intent anyway.

Just in effect.



24 responses

22 05 2009

Yeah, I’ll bet the conservative rags that are always aghast at the lifestyle magazines glamorizing unwed mothers will have absolutely nothing to say about this particular unwed mother.

22 05 2009

Also I remember a lot of criticism of Brangelina — or was it Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes? — for permitting baby photos to be published in a celebrity magazine exploitation, even though they were married adult parents. So what about Bristol the mom exploiting her child in the same way she apparently learned from Sarah the mom exploiting hers?

Sick. Sick. Sick. Dana has a related discussion going right now, about publishing pictures of our kids and what kids learn from us about that.

I blogged all this about baby pictures in celebrity magazines, let me go see, can’t even remember what I thought back then. I’m pretty sure it was about parents having the right but also the responsibility, to decide better than this.

Ah, here we go, wow, from three years ago!:
Fair Use of Your Own Baby?

So today I see this Brangelina Baby controversy and wonder what we all should learn from it, what it says about them AND us:

How is this any different than if the parents were selling very exclusive tickets for live peeps at the baby, perhaps in ritual poses that would disturb like some sideshow freak? Does it really matter if the money raised is then donated to some cause, however noble? How old does the baby need to be before our sensibilities turn and it becomes disgusting and wrong?

Is it okay when the baby grows up to be Jodi[e] Foster or Brooke Shields (whose moms were reviled at the time of their child image decisions) but not for baby beauty pageant moms, or cult polygamists giving their daughters to the community for their use and enjoyment, or the McCulkins, or Richard Williams shepherding Venus and Serena in their conservative religion?

. . .Lots to think that’s more complicated and matters more to us as private parents raising children in a Culture of Crap, than who should profit most from our children, and how soon after birth the bargaining should begin.

22 05 2009

See also Pregnant Teen Girls Gone Wild:

Barack Obama’s heartfelt unscripted words on personal responsibility and public policy-based teen pregnancy prevention through better education, and better treatment responses to other sex-related health challenges as both father and policy leader, are misconstrued — mangled! — the better to mock them publicly, even by anti-abortion conservative Christian homeschooling moms, not just his professional male political opponents.

Here’s one example, in which “child pregnancy” is confused with the clearly different word “child” in discouraging error, intentional or not.

That kind of poor “thinking” presented as homeschool parent politics should scare me, and it would if I let it.

But as I’ve said a lot lately, I’m tired of being afraid, especially as a homeschooling parent myself. So this year, I’m throwing in my political lot with my hopes instead of my fears.

And what I hope most of all, is that education and politics, minds and the times, they really are a changing.

22 05 2009

Wasn’t there a survey during the election: “Would you want your child’s daycare run by Michelle Obama or Sarah Palin?” The majority chose Palin, if I’m remembering correctly.

It is really disturbing to me that there’s an organized, well-funded squad of practiced hacks grooming Sarah Palin for another presidential-level run. On the bright side: I hope those poll numbers (that you cited in another post) reveal a changing cultural climate that has no place for people like Palin.

23 05 2009
Crimson Wife

Am I the only one who thinks a new mom ought to be home taking care of her baby rather than out partying at a high school prom?

23 05 2009

She ought not be a new mom at all.
But by that reasoning — babies are punishment for young girls, like Obama said? — then why let Bristol march in graduation with a silly lollipop wrapper chain around her neck either? Much less pose for magazine covers, give tv interviews and role-model abstinence speeches. It only makes sense if you define all that as not fun for her, as something “sucky” imposed on her and intended as punishment or penance.

(Seems like she missed a lot of her own fun taking care of her baby brother because of her mom’s job, hunting and partying, too.)

23 05 2009

So Sarah Palin ought to be “consistently” taking care of children, yes? — her own at home and all Alaskan children, as governor in a state with with disturbingly high rates of “illicit sex” (incest and teen pregnancy).

Instead she picks a ghost writer for her memoir who delights in “illicit sex” as a great smear of Democrats. It doesn’t do a thing to help a single dysfunctional family and it sure ought to finish Bristol’s public and private penance with a bang. . .

23 05 2009
Nance Confer

No, CW, you are not the only one.

Heck of a message — go ahead, get knocked up as a teen, life will be exactly the same. Heck it will be better!



23 05 2009

You’re DEFINITELY not the only one CW.

23 05 2009

What she “ought” to do or not do will be different in effect, depending on what SHE thinks and chooses, and what she resents.

23 05 2009

Mary, had to skip her prom, too — ” I don’t have that kind of time. And the dress is, like, $400, and the shoes, hair, makeup, it’s way too expensive.” That said, Mary, the ultimate pageant mom, was also quite the trailblazer: She didn’t bring in the big bucks, but she did escape the whole death-by-stoning thing.

23 05 2009

Another Mary, mom of eight children (six age 14 or under), chose political protest and wound up in jail for two weeks. Imo she “ought” to have been home parenting her own unusually large brood instead of protesting at the prison, or at least needn’t have insulted the judge and the entire judicial system after her arrest. I read about her at the “consistent life” link CW suggested to me. But it was her right to make those choices and her responsibilities as a parent and citizen at issue, not mine or anyone else’s, right?

Mary Rider goes to jail joyfully
[but she’s not having fun!]

. . .Mary and three others attempted to symbolically enter the prison to stop the execution. At a police line, the four knelt in prayer in the driveway where witnesses enter the prison.

Mary, 48, who has six children age 14 or less, was sentenced to jail after telling Wake County Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan that her conscience would not allow her to pay a $100 fine and $130 court costs into a system that oppressed the poor and carried out executions in her name. A social worker, Mary told the judge she would agree to perform community service in lieu of the fine and court costs.

The judge, a firm and cold man, who frequently undercut Mary’s attempts to defend herself based on Catholic Moral Teaching and the First Amendment, seemed to take personally Mary’s conviction that the “judicial system” is racist and oppressive.

23 05 2009
Nance Confer

Correct. She has the right to be as big a jackass as she wants.


23 05 2009

So – which is Bristol Palin now? The dependent child whose own mom is still responsible for her choices, the independent parent with all the rights and responsibilities thereto appertaining — or both so it’s a dreadful mess?

23 05 2009
Nance Confer

That last one sounds about right. 🙂


23 05 2009

Btw I sat home the night of MY senior prom and not because I was a new mom. It was similarly because of social pressures that affected all us kids (Bristol’s age) though:

Guess what happened to my senior prom? It never happened at all. . .

So nobody got to dance to any kind of music; we all got the default we deserved and we all sat home alone. It still grates on me after 35 years. Still trying to figure out what it means, if anything.

Whose “time and purpose” should prevail uber alles and/or blessed above all, under what power of story and composed for whose freedom principles? And if we can’t figure it out for ourselves, do we all just lose everything?

23 05 2009

A Prom Divided

(cock of the snook for the link to the conservative teacher blogger at “Right on the Left Coast”)

Principal Luke Smith says the school has no plans to sponsor a prom, noting that when it did so in 1995, attendance was poor.

Students of both races say that interracial friendships are common at Montgomery County High School. Black and white students also date one another, though often out of sight of judgmental parents. “Most of the students do want to have a prom together,” says Terra Fountain, a white 18-year-old who graduated from Montgomery County High School last year and is now living with her black boyfriend. “But it’s the white parents who say no. … They’re like, if you’re going with the black people, I’m not going to pay for it.”

“It’s awkward,” acknowledges JonPaul Edge, a senior who is white. “I have as many black friends as I do white friends. We do everything else together. We hang out. We play sports together. We go to class together. I don’t think anybody at our school is racist.”

Trying to explain the continued existence of segregated proms, Edge falls back on the same reasoning offered by a number of white students and their parents. “It’s how it’s always been,” he says. “It’s just a tradition.”

25 05 2009
Mrs. C

I was gonna get snarky and ask where the people of Asian and Hispanic descent would go to for prom, but I figure there’s only so much trouble Darren wants from me in the course of a week. :]

25 05 2009

And I was tempted to get snarky about it being fine for Bristol to miss prom night because its main purpose — crossing the sexual Rubicon — was moot.

26 05 2009

Some of this is wrong-headed imo but FWIW:

Feminists and traditionalists should be able to agree, for instance, that the structures of American society don’t make enough allowances for the particular challenges of motherhood. We can squabble forever about the choices that mothers ought to make, but the difficult work-parenthood juggle is here to stay. (Just ask Sarah and Todd Palin.)

And there are all kinds of ways — from a more family-friendly tax code to a more accommodating educational system — that public policy can make that juggle easier.

Conservatives and liberals won’t agree on the means, but they ought to agree on the end: a nation where it’s easier to balance work and child-rearing, however you think that balance should be struck.

They should also be able to agree that the steady advance of single motherhood threatens the interests and happiness of women.

11 06 2009

No one has thrown it in their faces or treated it as a political disqualification, but isn’t this relevant as we look at this case study in how teen motherhood perpetuates itself (and interferes with the teen parents’ education and further intellectual and economic development??)

When were Todd and Sarah Palin married?
Her wedding date is August 29, 1988, according to numerous sources including CBS news.

I specifically went to a Sarah Palin friendly website to do my check of information- and I found a “Sarah Palin is cool” website – it lists her wedding date as August 29, 1988, saying that she and Todd eloped to save their parents the expense of a large wedding.

The same website – which is a Sarah favorable website- also has bios of her kids -and it lists first child Track’s birthdate as April 20, 1989. The girl’s do not have exact birthdates listed.

Now, by my fingers and toes count, that comes to about 7 months and 21 days after they eloped (or 233 days if you use a calculator and a calendar and it’s not a leap year).

Now, the website at

lists the average length of human gestation as 280 days / 40 weeks, with anything before 259 days / 37 weeks as a preemie.

The article on Track says nothing about him being a preemie.


Draw your own conclusions, but to me it seems rather hypocritical to be painting oneself as the poster child for the Republican Party’s small town, old time religion family values (and please, there is nothing wrong with those values, don’t misunderstand me), and have had to get married because of an unplanned pregnancy – and then not have taught one’s offspring about those values.

Sara Palin married on August 29, 1988

Track Palin was born on April 20, 1989. Do the math.

11 06 2009

Miseducated Teen Mom’s Math: Add up 19, 11, 5 to 10 and 9-1-1

What should a 19-year-old mom of an 11-month-old get for leaving him in the tub alone for five to ten minutes, long enough to literally transform a 17-year-old’s* pregnancy from metaphorically choosing life to actually being responsible for her baby’s death — sympathy, therapy, remedial education, a felony sentence, all of the above?

To understate the obvious a la standardized test prompts, no answer will be perfect.

MANATEE — A 19-year-old Bradenton mother faces possible charges of manslaughter with culpable negligence after her 11-month-old son drowned this week, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office officials.

“It’s still under investigation. We’re getting all the facts. . . . With something like this, the State Attorney’s Office may see it a different way,” said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Dave Bristow.

The woman dialed 911 just after 1 p.m. Sunday when she found the child face down and submerged in the water when she stepped away for about five to 10 minutes, according to a released statement.

“(The woman) admits that she may have lost track of time and became concerned when she didn’t hear her son playing and splashing,” according to a released statement.

The mother unplugged the tub, removed the child and administered CPR, according to the report.

The baby was taken to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg where he was on a respirator for two days. The family decided to take the child off life support when there were no signs of brain activity, said Detective Todd Sellitto.

The woman, who is not being named by the Bradenton Herald because she has not been arrested on charges, is cooperating with investigators, Sellitto said.

If the woman is charged with manslaughter, it would a be first-degree felony, which is punishable by prison time not exceeding 30 years, according to Florida state statutes. . .

“In a case like this, she’s saying, ‘She just stepped away. It was an accident,’ ” Bristow said. “But you have to look at negligence here. Was she negligent when she stepped away? When you look at it, that’s what seems to be the case.”

*do the math — 11 mo. plus 9 1/2 mo. subtracted from current age of 19 suggests 17 is imperfect but best available answer for maternal age at conception

11 06 2009

From “Skill the Messenger” (now that’s public education!):

Before Bristol gets the cover of another mass market magazine or sits down with Larry King, someone needs to arm her with the tools to convey her message most powerfully. . . .With a national platform comes a responsibility to rise to the occasion, become informed about the issue, and be a true leader.

The outcomes of teen parenthood are too serious to be ignored by someone who is now the most prominent messenger on the issue. The impact is not just on the teen mom’s and dad’s life either.
In fact, the greatest effect is on the children of teen parents
. . .Hopefully, she’ll seek out that help. It’ll make her a much more interesting figure who, while keeping the fickle media engaged, can educate those at greatest risk.

There are many people ready to help because the experts know it takes a village to raise a spokesperson too.

10 09 2009

Gail Collins nails it:

Besides selling a fantasy about how easily a semi-delinquent, unemployed father-to-be could be turned into Prince Charming, Palin also spent her campaign trying to give the impression that running for vice president and taking care of five children, the youngest a baby with special needs, was as easy as falling off a snowbank.

Politicians who don’t want the federal government to address child care issues like to imagine that’s true. It absolves them from dealing with the question of who takes care of the kids when women make up almost half the work force. . .

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