Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin Reaction

So last night, the wife and I watched Palin address the assembled fat cats. I liked her. The wife did not. The following excerpted transcript of our conversation helps explain why:

Mrs. DovBear: Wow. She's nasty!
Me: Yeah!

Mrs. DovBear: Nasty, nasty, nasty.
Me: [grinning]

Mrs DovBear: Can we watch the Daily Show instead? I can't listen to this nasty woman anymore.
Me: I don't agree with anything she's saying, but boy do I admire the skill of her speechwriter. Those are some great lines!

As you can see, I have a connoisseur's appreciation for vicious behavior. My wife, who is apolitical and very much a social conservative, does not.

When the speech ended, Palin's family came out. Bristol's babydad was there, too. [Again, you're invited to contemplate the Orthodox Jewish indignation if Obama's 17 year old daughter had been impregnated by a High School football player named Levi.] My wife, who doesn't read newspapers or blogs, had this to say after Sarah Palin embraced her infant and held him up for the cameras.

Mrs. DovBear: Who's baby is that?
Me: That's Sarah Palin's five-month old son. He has Downs Syndrome.
Mrs. DovBear: She has a newborn?! Who's going to take care of that little baby while she's running for VP.
Me: His Dad, I guess.
Mrs. DovBear: He's going to get up with him at night, every hour on the hour? That child is going to need so much therapy, and his mother's going to be out day and night campaigning? That just isn't right.
Me: To each his own.
Mrs. DovBear: I'm sorry, but she has responsibilities to that child, and even though he has a Dad and big sisters, he's going to need his mother, and she's just not going to be around for him.
Me: You realize you're speaking like something out of the fifties.
Mrs. DovBear: I am not. Mother's are important, no matter what decade we live in, and that small, handicapped infant is being shortchanged.

Once again I found myself in the old, familiar dilemma. I agree with the facts [Mothers are important] and I'm glad I married a woman who agrees with those facts. Yet, I also respect the right of other mothers to make other choices and to give primacy to different facts, different values, and different goals. Sarah Palin is ambitious. She wants to be Vice President. Who am I to say that personally caring for her newborn is more important than fulfilling that desire? The child won't be abandoned, or hurt, or damaged by his mother's absence, not in any noticeable way. He'll just miss out on an experience that my wife and I (together with most social conservatives) think is both meaningful and important. Sarah Palin disagrees, and believes that supporting the McCain campaign matters more.

She's entitled, I think, to make that choice.


I don't know if Sarah Palin is a good mother or not. Deciding to run for VP in the midst of not one, but two family crises does not tell us anything about her overall fiteness as a mother, nor does it tell us anything about her ability to serve as VP. Also, there's nothing objectively wrong with making a horrible mother (or father) VP. Bad parents often succeed in other arenas. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

But I must point out that is a decidedly liberal perspective. Accepting Palin's choices, and looking at her relevant skills and experiences rather than her character is the sort of thing we do. The other side tends to put character first, and to be dismissive of non-traditional choices. So it speaks to their bias, and their subjective thinking that they are so suspiciously silent about Palin's choices and Palin's character. Again, imagine Obama with a 17 year old daughter who was knocked up. Imagine if Hillary left behind a 5 month old disabled infant to seek high office.

You're kidding yourself if you think the rightwingers would respect those choices, or insist that it tells us nothing relevant about the candidate's suitability for high office.

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