Sarah Palin: the importance of being earnest

So this is what this race has come down to?  Arguing about the fecundity of Sarah Palin's daughter?  This is news because . . . ?

Because Sarah Palin lied about sex?  So let me get this straight.  Bill Clinton using a White House intern like a cheap whore in the Oval Office and lying about same under oath:  not a problem.  Sarah Palin relieving her sixteen year old of the burden of raising a special needs child:  a huge character issue.  This sounds like a parody of the ridiculous beliefs that social conservatives attribute to liberals.

Because Sarah Palin is a bad mother?  Because only bad mothers have children who do unwise, risky, and even immoral things?  Apparently every single person in my high school class had bad parents, 100% of whom were liberals.

One might also comment on the belief that a woman cannot be a good leader unless and until she is a good mother.  If one of Barack Obama's girls gets caught shoplifting, do we impeach him?

Because Sarah Palin is a social conservative and therefore a hypocrite?  About what?  Which social conservatives guarantee that raising your children with good values will prevent them from getting pregnant?  Indeed, I believe that's why they want to make the rest of us watch G movies--because they think society has effects on people.

Because Sarah Palin made the decision to keep the Down's baby a selling point?  I'm sorry, did I miss the press release where she gave Trig away now that the secret is out?  I'd think it's rather more admirable to take on a special needs baby that you didn't give birth to.  No hormones flooding you with a nesting instinct, no oxytocin rush to bond you to the baby; just a firm committment to do the right thing by a baby who's going to take a lot of care.

Because Sarah Palin should have encouraged her daughter to get an abortion?  When did pro-choice become pro-abortion?

Because social conservatives are against sex education emphasizing birth control?  This would be vastly more compelling if there were any good evidence that sex education emphasizing birth control works any better than sex education emphasizing abstinence.  Unfortunately, neither seems to work very well--something that is bizarrely missed by liberals every time a study comes out on the benefits of abstinence-only education.  Abstinence-only doesn't reduce teen pregnancies! they trumpet gleefully, somehow failing to notice what this implies about the effectiveness of birth-control education.

I'm very sure that an upper-middle class governor's daughter was not unaware of what causes babies, or how the babies might be prevented, or what aisle on the drugstore contains the means of prevention.  She got pregnant either because she chose to ignore that knowledge, or because something went wrong.  How many of the sniffily self-righteous commentators have never missed a pill, or had the condom break, or simply not had them to hand and thought, well, just this once . . . ?

Because all the hyperventilating Obama supporters pretending that they are genuinely morally outraged are willing to say anything to get him elected, even if if means prying into the personal life of a seventeen year old girl who has just been thrust into adulthood in a humiliatingly public way?  Oh, right . . .

Sorry, I must have been confused.  I thought I lived in a civilized society.

This is news, of course.  But it is not particularly interesting news.  It's hardly the first shotgun wedding the world has ever witnessed, not even of a prominent politician's daughter.  It has basically nothing to do with her fitness to be the vice president.  The people acting as if this matters deeply should be as ashamed of themselves as they claim to be of Sarah Palin's behavior.

The conspiracy theorizing about Trig is more deeply worrying.  They require that, on the one hand, Sarah Palin masterminded an elaborate conspiracy that fooled the media; and that on the other hand, she didn't bother to obtain a pregnancy girdle, which are readily available at theatrical supply shops without showing ID, and fairly comfortable.  She also had a doctor willing to falsify a birth certificate . . . but not the date.  She knew her daughter had a high-risk pregnancy, but chose to travel to somewhere it would be difficult to fake the birth, even though her (faked) condition would have given her a perfectly reasonable excuse not to. 

All this, mind you, to conceal something that hasn't been a dark and shameful secret for thirty years or so, in a Republican state that isn't particularly socially conservative.  So why are all these allegedly intelligent adults pretending that they find this at all likely?

On Sarah Palin as a VP I have no particular opinion, except that she doesn't make me any more interested in voting for John McCain.  But the people criticizing her are making me considerably less interested in voting for Obama.  If this sort of deranged logic produces unwavering support for Obama, I have to question my own judgement.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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