I have been wondering amid all the evidence on Sarah Palin’s lack of qualifications, questionable dealings as governor, and her big-spending, sales-tax raising and debt-ridden mayoral tenure, why in the world the Rovian Republican machine picked her. Yes, I know she was selected to appeal to the hard core Christian dominionists and their somewhat less fanatical ilk.
That, however, does not explain signing off on a pregnant minor daughter in a candidate being sold on family values, abstinence only education and the principle of much of modern right-wing Christianity that parents are absolutely responsible for their children’s walks as Christians. Seems like a sexually active 16 or 17 year old daughter would reflect poorly on the very Christian worth of the mother. (I do not believe this, of course, but I have enough personal and research experience with this movement to know they do.) At least one would expect such a moral issue to play negatively among the same crowd that would be excoriating Michelle Obama as a mother every minute until the election were this her 17 year old daughter. (BTW, the daughter and her behavior are absolutely off-limits; Sarah Palin is not – how politicians apply to their own lives the rules they seek to impose on others is a fair issue, especially when they seek to impose government prohibitions on the same family issue they claim should be a private matter.)
The McCain camp explains that the pregnancy does not disqualify an otherwise highly qualified person. But Palin’s utter lack of qualifications and questionable record in office call this explanation into question.
No, we are dealing with the Atwater-Rove Republican propaganda machine here, and a candidate vetted and approved by the highest leaders of the Christian right, as reported on this site and elsewhere. I do not believe they saw Palin’s daughter as a potential negative outweighed by her positives. I believe they see it as an asset and a winning issue.
Their protestations aside, the Palins and Republicans made the pregnancy political with their first statement. Yes, they did. Maybe not to you and me, but to their audience they sure did. Here is the statement.
We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.
"Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates. Emphasis added
Saying her daughter plans to keep the baby and marry the father are absolutely political statements in this context. They are announcing to the entire Christian Right political movement their commitment to Christian principles and Christian politics (no abortions here). They could have simply said their daughter was pregnant and they would appreciate it being kept a private family matter. But they went on to announce birth, marriage and child-rearing plans. That the father is named after an Old Testament hero did not hurt (presumably the Palins had the father’s or his parents’ permission to make his name public).
Consider also the many other extremely religious statements and positions that Palin has taken, such as those being circulated today (e.g. on DailyKos) on the Iraq war being a mission from God and for God’s role in arranging funding for an oil pipeline and the need to pray for same pipeline. Of course, we know she is as extreme as it gets against abortion rights, supports teaching intelligent design in schools, and thinks the Founding Fathers put God in the Pledge of Allegiance (that was not even written until 1892). Now you have one serious, hard-core political Christian. OK, you know that, so how does Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy work as an asset?