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September 2nd, 2008
04:29 PM ET

The talk about Sarah Palin

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, addresses the crowd at a campaign stop in Washington, Pa. Saturday.

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, addresses the crowd at a campaign stop in Washington, Pa. Saturday.

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Everyone’s talking about Sarah Palin, even some who say we shouldn’t be.

John McCain’s campaign has decried “smears.” Rudy Giuliani said a reporter should be “ashamed” for asking if Palin’s 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy would detract from the Republican Convention. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have said candidates’ children are off limits.

Ok, got it.

And yet, given that Jenna Bush’s wedding photos were viewed by millions around the world, and that culture wars have periodically engulfed this country for decades now, with arguments over what exactly constitutes "family values," should we be surprised that people – and the press – are asking about Sarah Palin’s life and decisions, and her daughter’s too?

More to the point – is it all bad? Come on, there's good in it, too.

Sarah Palin’s candidacy has sparked a passionate national dialogue about what’s the right balance of work and motherhood, or simply parenthood. Her story is making us think differently about old arguments over "family values," "personal responsibility," and "good judgment."

"It's the Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition," as Jodi Kantor and Rachel Swarns put it so memorably in today's New York Times, "But this time the battle lines are drawn inside out, with social conservatives, usually staunch advocates for stay-at-home motherhood, mostly defending her, while some others, including plenty of working mothers, worry that she is taking on too much."

Yes, these are hot button issues. And some people are understandably upset. But some of the dialogue about work/family balance, teen pregnancy, even the degree to which politicians' familiy lives should be a subject of public discussion, is important.

In the middle of a presidential campaign that will set the nation's direction for the next four years, these are good things for us to be thinking about, and talking about, in a new way.

What's your take?


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. ivette

    I feel offended every time Sarah Palin implies that the "18 million cracks" that Hillary Clinton spoke about will blindly follow her for the simple fact that she is a woman. For the record, Sarah Palin is not running a campaign to be my "bff" - she is running for Vice-President of the most powerful nation in the world, and whether the Republicans like it or not, she is certainly not qualified to take over the presidency should the need arise. Saying that she is qualified to run the most powerful country in the nation because she is the Governor of a town in Alaska is like saying that because she is a teacher in a one-classroom schoolhouse she is qualified to teach at Harvard University. Most importantly, I am a woman, and one whose father was a Korean War veteran and one who worked for the Department of Defense for many years, and I definitely do not feel represented by Sarah Paliin or by John McCain or by this republican administration!

    September 2, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  2. Traveler

    Just returned from Alaska. Interesting that no one's talking about the population of Alaska...600,000 people! That smaller than many US cities, which means she has been little more than a mayor of a mid-size US city. She was mayor of Wasilla??? Very, very small town. How many people are actually in the Alaskan National Guard? With a total population of 600,000, not very many. This is executive experience?

    McCain blew it.

    September 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  3. Neil

    McCain needs to build support with the religous right but I think he has made a mistake. Palin may be a great governor. I do not know. But she has a family that needs attention. Her daugther's pregency and a daugther with Downs syndrome requires that.

    Palin's lack of attention to her family should raise flags all over the place and McCain should have never asked her and she should never have accepted this nomination.

    Finally, the moral and ethical compass of both need to be checked. Only a man who has engaged in multiple affairs (cheated on his wife over and over again) would support someone who sees nothing wrong with pregency out of wedlock.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  4. Louise

    I read that Palin takes her baby boy to work with her because she's breast feeding. Wonder if she plans to continue that practice should she become VP?

    Also.....has anyone thought about her daughter's boyfriend's family being thrust into this spotlight? Palin has not only put her family "out there" for her political gain, but now has involved another family as well. I'm sure his parents are not at all thrilled over this!

    The boyfriend, Levi, MySpace page is full of 4-letter words and an interesting comment that he doesn't "want" kids! From what he says, he's a typical 17-year old high school jock just so full of himself. My guess, he has absolutely no intention of marrying this girl!

    September 2, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  5. Judy from Seattle

    As a feminist and a mother, there is one major sticking point that I can't get beyond. If one of my teen daughters came home and told me she was pregnant, one of the last things I would ever put her through would be dealing with the onslaught of the media so that I could further my career goals. This is a difficult enough time for her daughter – one that she will be affected by for the rest of her life, so how can Ms. Palin, as a mother, consciously subject her daughter to the pain of this media circus? And, why wouldn't John McCain or his wife consider this poor girl's situation? This is a time when a girl needs her mother more than ever. The point may be posed that the father could step into the role of helper/caretaker, but, even we feminists realize that there are certain times in our daughters' lives when we have advice and wisdom that their fathers simply cannot offer. There was no way my husband could have been there to support our daughters when there babies were born the way I could. He loves them as much, I believe, but doesn't have the same life experiences to help guide them as I do. She should cut back her duties, if that's financially possible for their family, and help her daughter through what I know to be a difficult and painful time, even without all of this outer scrutiny. Shame on her for not focusing more energy on her daughter and her need for privacy than she does on her own unbridled drive to succeed.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  6. George

    Anderson,
    I think Governor Palin is a brilliant pick for McCain’s VP. She is almost invincible. It
    will take some time for people to figure this out, especially for those Obama’s supporters
    Now they can easily find out that inexperience is biggest weakness for her and attack her
    on it. In deed, the picture that she would be president if McCain dies in the day one
    worries some people. If a person worries it the person also should worry Obama because
    Obama has less governing experience than her. This will make all the attacks on her
    naturally ricochet to Obama. Remember Obama is running for President, not VP.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  7. MidwestVicki

    McCain has already told us the VP will NOT play a significant role as he becomes President. Palin is just someone who will be under his thumb.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  8. David

    The funny thing about all this is that pretty much every attack that was thrown against Obama now also apply to Gov. Palin; from her inexperience to her association with a controversial Pastor, Ed Kalnins. It gets deeper with her though. Dems should get off talking about her experience and her daughter and look deeper into her association with the Alaska Independence Party.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  9. MidwestVicki

    McCain has already told us the VP will play a significant role as he becomes President. Palin is just someone who will be under his thumb.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  10. Bill E

    I used to be a big fan of Campbell Brown, but after the last couple of days of witnessing her nasty side as she relentlessly attacked her guests about Palin she and CNN have lost me for good. I don’t understand her distain toward Palin? No matter what or who people support, a reporter, or TV personality like Campbell Brown should try to remain impartial and demonstrate more professionalism and responsible journalism

    September 2, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  11. kdee

    Also remember Daddy Bush gave W several business opportunities that he ran in the ground (e.g. Note The Texas Rangers) before using that great experience to run the country in the ground; If this is presidential experience who needs or wants it!

    September 2, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  12. Donna

    I just think this whole thing with Mrs. Palin's daughter Bristol, is sad. Mrs.Palin knew excepting the VP with McCain would put her and her family in the spot light. How could a mother knowingly place a child in this kind of public microscope. I feel that Palin is self centered, egotistic and only is looking after what she wants in life. She is not looking for what is best for her family.

    I work at a High School which has a Mommy and Me program. I know that these teen mothers need an education. But I also hear other students making comments like "Oh, you look so cute", "I'm so happy for you", "When is your baby due". Hay, it's not all right for kids to be having kids. With Palin now flaunting Brstal's pregnancy on national TV, these young girls will say, "it's o.k. to get pregnant" look at Palins' daughter".

    I still don't understand a mother who could place her child in this situation with the national media.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:29 pm |
  13. Rose

    Mrs. Palin needs to go home and take care of her daughter Bristol is still 17 years old and P.G.. And it is ashame that daddy wasn't watching her right. Both parents should be in parenting instead of trying to run a country, they can't even run the own home! And what about the father of Bristol unborn child? What kind of person is he and how old is he over 18 or 21? Yes, it is the people business we will be paying for the baby's nannys.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  14. angel

    Has it ever occured to any of you that someone can get pregnant even if they are VERY well educated regarding sex? Women of all ages and all walks of life and all races have unexpected pregnancies and kids who attend school with sex education also get pregnant.

    It seems as if most of you think that educating kids in a classroom or teaching sex ed at home will magically do the trick and eliminate teen pregnancy? Being against teaching sex education by way of tax payers has nothing to do with what your actual 17 year old daughter and her boyfriend are going to do on their dates.

    How can ANYONE say that having a down syndrome child with special needs represents poor family values...that is just sick, sick, sick! She made the choice not to eliminate a child because of his special needs why does she have to be bashed for this?

    Keep up this disgusting talk bashing and blaming her and it will earn the McCain camp more votes and they will be the deciding votes that come from conservative christian women, parents with children who have special needs and parents who have 17 year old pregnant daughters.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  15. Don Menezes

    The McCain campaign clearly knew this pregnancy issue would be a hot topic. In every photo I've seen about this, she was cleverly covering her baby bump. This appears staged, and that is whats disturbing to me. I think the vetting process missed the boat here.

    As far as her experience, there is no way this women is qualified to be VP let alone the President should something happen to McCain. For GOP strategists to say that she has more experience than Obama frankly leaves me speechless. I'm sure she has done great things for Alaska but VP is a whole different story. This is will be very interesting to watch as this plays out. I suspect after her first debate with Biden, it will blatantly evident just how "green" she is.

    If McCain was truly sincere about selecting a women as a mode of chance there are soooo many more qualified women.....Olympia Snow of Maine comes to mind......and thats only one.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  16. Ethel in Denver

    if circumstances arose which required her to step into the President’s shoes and she was to become pregnant again, no doubt we can count on her to make the same high moral decision she has in the past.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:17 pm |
  17. Kiki

    This is a HUGE PLUS for the Obama campaign. It highlights McCain's irrational thinking. The correct definition of 'Maverick' is in fact – a dissenter/stray/disoriented/lost/'unable to find the correct way'/non conformist/unbranded. Well, McCain's choice of VP shows a clear lack of judgement. Apprarently she prays before making decisions on a gas pipeline & the war in Iraq...I guess she'll be spending alot of time praying in the White House. Actually she needs to pray for McCain.

    A HUGE PLUS for Obama!

    September 2, 2008 at 9:16 pm |
  18. K. Hawkins_Pittsburgh PA

    This is very interesting. When Sarah Palin was first introduced to the American public it was made Loud and Clear that her oldest son was en-route to Iraq. It seemed very important for the McCain camp to share that with us. Isn't that putting your children in the political game? But when it's the unwed, pregnant,17 year old daughter everyone is screaming foul. It's either all in or all out. You can't pick and choose what parts of your family are public and what parts are private. If we can't talk about the pregnant daughter, we can talk about the son going to Iraq, we can't talk about the two children Cindy McCain adopted from Bangladesh 17 years ago and we can't talk about Obama's half-sister and brother.
    Part of who we are is represented in our family. As an American citizen who will practice their right to vote in November. My vote will be for the person I think best represents my family values. To do this I just might need to know a little bit about the person I'm voting for, which in part means their family.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  19. VK

    For the good of the Republican Party, I think it would be in the good interest of John McCain, and Sarah Palin, if Sarah withdraws her candidacy for Vice President.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  20. John Michigan

    I wish I could ask Sarah Palin one question.

    If her daughter were 8 months pregnant and the doctor told her Sarah that she could save her daughter or the baby, how does she tell her daughter she is going to die? That's pro-life choice right?!

    God forbid that would happen and that Bristol will have a healthy baby, but I believe there are people that have to make that DECISION.

    As a Father and a Grand Father I could never tell any woman how to make that decision and I certainly don't understand how others can tell others how to make it either.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  21. bernie

    I agree with Stephen, I heard the same comment.
    "She is proud of her daughter decision."

    September 2, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  22. djp

    I remember long ago when reporters (journalists as they now preferred to be called) reported the facts and not their opinions. It is sad when a network of journalists will win the election. What is even more sad is that the US population does not get out and research the facts for themselves and they depend on these journalist for the facts to base their vote on. I agree that when you run for public office your life becomes public. However, lets just report the facts and not the whys or how comes or what if's since that is only speculation. Sarah Palin and her husband are not the only two parents that believe in abstinence, no birth control in schools, no sex education in schools, etc and had a daughter get pregnant. No matter how religious you are and how great a parent you are, you can not control your 17 year old children 24/7. Mistakes happen to the best of us and how we deal with that is what counts. I am saddened that journalist believe that because a person has certain beliefs they are on a pedestal and can do no wrong. Maybe someone out there needs to "keep the journalist honest."

    September 2, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  23. kc

    Palin's family issues should not be a campaign issue. there have been numerous children raised by our leaders in washington. the majority of them turned out okay. how can someone put down a mother who is trying to make a difference in our crazy country. Who should say we have a say on how many children an elected official. when she had a amniocentesis and found out her baby had down's-if she would have had an abortion, everyone would really be flapping their jaws about that. Her daughter is pregnant and it is outrageous that she has been made a specticle by the press-HER daughter made a choice and now the DAUGHTER has to live with that plus being humiliated across the US. what it all boils down to is that palin is just like most american women- a mother who has real issues with her family and a strong individual who has worked to be successful and strong (what most women want to be). Do the dems feel threatened now? Why are we still not questioning Obama's cocaine use?????

    September 2, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  24. Dixie Shaw

    How responsible is a woman that would allow a 17 year old girl to get married. That girl should have her baby, keep it or put it up for adoption and continue her education. If she and the father are still interested in 5 years that is soon enough to get married. Don't they know the failure rate of teen marriages and that rate is worse if the marriage is because of a pregnancy,

    September 2, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  25. bernie

    Roe vs. Wade is about choice.

    September 2, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  26. Al Kelly

    what do you get without the "L' ? A PAIN for McCAIN.

    Did he put her on the ticket for pure controversy? to create a buzz?
    or just a misjudgement on his part? Is he playing judge & jury before
    the investigation?

    it was an insult for him to assume that the Palin would gain back Clinton supporters based on gender.

    think again, mcain

    September 2, 2008 at 9:01 pm |
  27. Al R

    The Right Wing talking heads frame the situation of her daughter's preganancy as "shows Sarah is a normal person with normal problems". Howewver, if it was the Democratic nominee whose daughter was pregnant, they be saying that "this is an example of the low morals of the left wing Democratic party", I guarantee it. What a bunch of hypocrites. I am fed up with the Republican party. All they really stand for is paying less taxes. Their quest for smaller government is justa smoke screen so they pay less taxes. They really have no other agenda. Oh, that and starting wars that drive up the deficit so when a Democrat sees the need to raise taxes to cover the actions of the previous irresponsible administration, they get painted by Republicans as "tax and spend liberals". Go look it up. Reagan blew the deficit through the roof as well as Bush 1 and 2. Democrats have to come in and clean up their mess.

    September 2, 2008 at 8:58 pm |
  28. Marlon

    I have no studies to substantiate this position, but it has been my experience that the unwed teen pregnancy has been of epidemic proportions within the evangelical community for many many years.
    I don't know if it is for lack of education or support from parents in terms of birth control.
    I think that there are many families within that community who will see Palin as their champion in that regard.
    I find it very unfortunate.

    September 2, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  29. Jade

    I do not believe most of the McCain supporters are so blinded by their wealth or prejudice to actually go along with what his campaign is trying to do. Although I am a mother and a good one I am not "qualified" to be the president. That is not to say that women are not ever capable but it is the truth. People put more thought into what daycare's their children are going to attend. What neighborhood they are going to live in. I put more effort into what clothes and accessories I am going to wear the next day. This man met this woman TWICE, and decided that she would make a great President. I mean come on. All I see is him going after the leftover scorned Clinton supporters and the working mothers vote. I have not heard him say one thing that is in the benefit of this country. All of a sudden he has found the 21st Century Joan Cleaver and wants us all to believe that he is so caring and into what truly matters. If you fall for it you deserve what ever he gives you.

    September 2, 2008 at 8:36 pm |
  30. Jeff

    A couple of observations. First, it appears that the Republicans have picked a great successor to Bush. In an administration that repeatedly promoted people based on personal beliefs and political orientation (e.g. the Justice Department), McCain's selection of Palin is a great example of just "hold the course". She was not selected because of her competence, but because of her political and religious beliefs, period. The Republican party has abandoned competence as a criterion, perhaps because thinking, well educated people tend to be Democrats.

    Second, for those women who will vote for McCain because he picked a woman, that mindset undermines the whole feminist movement. How many times have they railed against men with lesser qualifications being picked for a job/promotion/etc. over a woman? I understand the deep desire to break through that political glass ceiling, but a "vote for the gonads" philosophy rather than choosing who is better qualified renders their arguments for equality meaningless.

    September 2, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
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