One Daughter Away from the White House | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

One Daughter Away from the White House

Out of everything that chilled me to the bone about Bill Clinton's Lewinsky affair, nothing bothered me more than him messing around with the intern with his teen daughter in the building.

That very fact showed me the level of poor judgment that this man was capable of—even if I agreed with some of his positions. He also used his office to try to cover up the affair and trash the people who revealed it, and he lowered the level of decorum in America in a way that opened us up to the disastrous Bush administration.

I supported Clinton's impeachment based on abuse-of-power issues; I turned on him as a person based on what he did to his family, and his daughter. This didn't sit well with all my Democratic friends, but I didn't care. There was something much bigger at play here than partisan politics: I just happen to believe that a person's treatment of the people they are closest to is a sign of their integrity, and whether or not the public can trust them. I also do not believe that a politician of any stripe should use their office either as a cradle of seduction or to silence or punish their detractors.

Call me old-fashioned.

I have to admit that a major reason I never supported Hillary Clinton for president—as cool as it would be to have a qualified, strong woman in the White House—is that I couldn't stand the idea of double-wide politics coming back to Pennsylvania Avenue. And I say that as someone who grew up in a trailer park, and I am proud of my background, as well as my efforts to overcome the petty and overly dramatic influences of an upbringing among wonderful people who had not yet had enough education to move beyond constant drama.

Now we are faced with constant drama from the woman who is John McCain's pick to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. And we are told that if we criticize his choice, Sarah Palin, then we must be "sexist."

That's precious. And it's wrong.

Like many Americans, I could admire Palin greatly, if her views weren't so extreme—ranging from no abortion for rape or incest victims to being supportive of an extreme secessionist, anti-America movement in Alaska.

Still, I have been entranced by the Palins' series of lifetime dramas and efforts to move quickly up the power ladder, angering people on both sides with their apparent belief that they are above the laws everyone else has to follow. (Melton, anyone?).

Regardless, I feel sorry for her daughter, Bristol, and her boyfriend—who did not choose to be in a hot spotlight. Right now, they are playing out one of the hardest things a young couple can go through on an international, tabloid stage. Her own mother seems willing to use her daughter's mistake as a way to score points with the anti-abortion wing of the Republican Party, framing her daughter's pregnancy as a "choice" against an abortion:

"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents," the Palins said Monday. Funny, that is the same choice every abortion-rights supporter I know believes women should have.

Politics aside, right here is where images of Clinton playing cigar with Chelsea nearby flood in for me. He could not have been thinking of his daughter as he followed his whims.

And Palin clearly wasn't considering that she was turning her daughter into a tabloid princess when she put her in front of the cameras last Friday hugging little Trig to her chest. Is this potential U.S. president so inside her own head that it didn't cross her mind that those images would appear in every supermarket tabloid in America within days of the news of her daughter's pregnancy getting out?

If Palin was so politically naive that she didn't know, the McCain people should have. If the Palins really told the campaign about the pregnancy before she was selected, then the campaign should have known not to march her in front of the cameras, holding an infant.

There truly was no need to cut the baby—in this case, a teen mother—in half to push her candidacy. She had other children who could appear for the cameras, rather than make her daughter into the political poster child of either teen pregnancy, or Palin's anti-abortion agenda, depending on your lens. Or—dare I say it—she could have delayed her entrance onto the national stage until her daughter's life wasn't turning upside down. It's not anti-woman to look after your family, or sexist to point out when it isn't happening.

A silver lining could be a national dialogue on teenage pregnancy—if we could have it intelligently. Clearly, Bristol is not a symbol of evil and everything wrong with society, as Republicans for years have tried to make teenage mothers. Indeed, she symbolizes the gap that political moralizing leaves open when an ideology says (a) young people cannot be taught anything about sex education, (b) contraception is bad (as the Feminists for Life argue; Palin is a member) and (c) you have to bring the child into the world (even if the father does not want children, as Bristol's boyfriend warned on his MySpace page).

We also live in a "boys will be boys" world where young men are expected to, er, "sow their oats," even as young women are expected to be angels and say "no, no, no."

Not to mention, studies have shown that "abstinence-only" education, such as that pushed by Palin, is ineffective and a waste of tax money. Sorry, they just don't work, folks.

Abstinence-only programs tend to merely play political lip service to social conservatives, even as they even fail the families of the people pushing them, such as in Palin's case.

I believe that abstinence makes sense for high-school kids. But I also know that high-school kids have a way of making their own decisions when parents aren't looking—I certainly did; you?—and then too often ending up ruining their lives with unexpected pregnancies and often-unhappy marriages. And some are even more likely to do things they are taught they aren't supposed to.

When you use your children to push your agenda, you are inviting people to rate your judgment based on your actions, just as Clinton did when he took his vices into the Oval Office. We can sympathize with you even as we realize you're not ready to lead.

Off the presidential stage, though, the way the Palins and other conservatives choose to deal with unexpected pregnancies inside their own families is none of our business.

Likewise, the way the rest of us deal with unexpected pregnancies in our own lives is none of theirs.

Previous Comments

ID
135454
Comment

That episode in the Oval Office between two consenting adults is likely one of the most harmless acts to ever take place there considering many other secret and evil acts occurring there routinely that have impacted the world so negatively and violently. So far as I know, neither Chelsea nor anyone else, actually saw Bill and Monica do anything. I'm not saying I condone the act against the marriage or union of Hillary and Bill. Unfortunately, worse acts of all kinds between man and woman take place daily in homes all around this nation without any concerns or certainly proper caution for whether children nearby can see or hear what adults are doing. History is going to serve Hillary just fine. One day she is going to be judged by her own merits and demerits and not by her husband's. Hillary isn't perfect but fortunately she's no Palin either. Palin has already made Hillary's stock go way up in the minds of decent people. I'm glad to see Palen just as she presented herself at the convention. I always knew she existed. I hope she keeps up the evil work she is doing so that further lies concerning her type won't be so commonplace in the future.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-09-08T08:31:47-06:00
ID
135466
Comment

I forgot to add, palin's crew (republican women) are now going after Oprah for refusing to participate in the double-wide drama they seek to infect us with. If Oprah falls or capitulates to these horrible women, then she doesn't have any backbone or moral fibre whatsoever.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-09-08T10:05:01-06:00

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