I feel sorry for the Palin kids, who really have been brought up out of the spotlight. And now it's white-hot and it's shining on them, which means that Governor Palin's oldest teen-aged daughter has to have her pregnancy announced by her mother, and picked up by every newspaper, wire service, and blog.
Credit her mother with putting a positive spin on it--she spoke of her excitement at becoming a grandparent, her pride in her daughter's decision to have the baby (uh, doesn't that make her pro-choice??), and of course mentioned that the prospective parents will be marrying shortly.
Reporters covering the Republican National Convention have found delegates to be largely supportive, noting that it burnishes Palin's anti-choice credentials. "It just makes the Palin family as human as any other family there is in America," said Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt. "I think there's a big contrast between how the Obama camp has presented this issue already and the clearly pro-life, consistent message that's coming out of . . . Sarah Palin.
Honestly, the sheer chutzpah of it all is staggering. The daughter of a governor who is loudly and proudly not only anti-choice, but anti-knowledge when it comes to sex education, has managed to make unwed, teen parenthood a virtue to these wingnuts.
But I cannot help but think about what the wingnuttery would have been talking about this week, had Barack Obama had an unwed teen-aged daughter. Can anyone say with a straight face that the subtext would have been no different?
I have been looking on the web for a discussion about this, and all I can find is the faux outrage that conservatives ginned up for Obama when he alluded to abortion (and STD's) as "punishment" for a mistake (see full quote here). But I would be curious to know what other people think. Do you think that the pregnancy of an African-American teen from Chicago (with a parent on the Presidential ticket) would be greeted with the same enthusiasm by conservatives? Would it matter to the election?
Meanwhile, back to teen pregnancy as a social policy issue: As noted above, Governor Palin has been a big fan of abstinence-only sex education. So here is an inconvenient truth about it that she might want to read. It's too late for her daughter, but not for the hundreds of thousands that will be governed by decisions made in a McCain-Palin administration.