Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Some thoughts on the Palin flap

I first heard about the "Sarah Palin's youngest child is actually her grandchild!!!" story on Sunday via this comment on my "Pandering" post. I followed the link to this post on the DailyKos* site - now deleted, hacked, or for whatever reason inaccessible, as are the 1,962 comments the post received.

In a follow-up comment I referred to the claim as "extraordinary" - as in the phrase "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." What I saw in the now-absent post was not particularly extraordinary: a few photos that didn't show Sarah Palin pregnant when she should have been showing, a few (undated) photos showing her daughter with a tummy bulge (ummm, kids these days eat a lot of junk food), and some really bad mathematical reasoning straight out of "How to Lie with Statistics."

More than extraordinary, the claim was ludicrous. Really, it was the single most ludicrous thing I have heard in over ten years, since an intern at the White House claimed to have been engaging in sexual relations with the President of the United States. I mean, who really believed that lascivious pile of crap?

Only it turned out to be true.

I wondered how McCain/Palin would respond. I wondered how the mainstream media would respond. I mean here was a huge, preposterous story, which if true told us all sorts of things about the nature of the Vice-Presidential candidate. Not only that, but it had a countertext included: if the story was false, and we accept that Sarah Palin's story of the birth of her son was true - that she went into labor while in Texas for a political event, boarded a plane bound for Alaska while in labor (please consult your OB/GYN before trying this yourself), and once in Alaska bypassed several hospitals to give birth in a smaller and more remote facility - then we learn something about her judgement skills, especially when those judgements endanger the life of her unborn child.

So how did the mainstream media respond? Honestly, I don't know. I was building bookcases Sunday into Monday and was out of contact with newspapers, television, and even radio.

How did McCain/Palin respond? In a classic move dazzlingly executed: when confronted with possible evidence of a scandal, confess to a similar but less damaging scandal. It was like throwing raw butt steak to a pack of rabid dogs to keep them away from your filet mignon. Well played, Mr. Rove.**

So interest in the original scandal was swept away by the revelation of the secondary scandal. Besides, what are the odds her teenage daughter would get pregnant twice in rapid succession?

So, some thoughts on this story:

McCain wants everybody to leave Sarah Palin the hell alone: Sorry, Senator. Do the words "heat" and "kitchen" mean anything to you? Besides, you claim you already knew everything there is to know about your running mate's background from your thorough vetting program. Surely you anticipated this response? Actually, I'm beginning to suspect that this is precisely the response your handlers were counting on. They're calling the music, and we're dancing the dance.

McCain maintains that a media "Old Boys Network" is trying to bring Palin down. Ummm, the original story broke in the blogosphere. Not every blogger is a 40-year-old overweight overeducated underemployed emotionally stunted man-child...though I'm not sure that that's what you meant by "Old Boys."

No, there is no vast left-wing conspiracy trying to bring Palin down, Senator. But you are familiar with the Swift Boat Liars organization, right? So maybe you should keep an eye out. Just in case...

The kids should be off limits. I have no problem with that. I haven't even mentioned Palin's daughter's name, mainly because I can't remember it and can't be bothered to look it up. But when you make your children a focal point of your introduction of yourself to the American voting public, you place them in the spotlight and in harm's way. Much as Obama put his mother and father and grandmother in play by making them focal points of his biography. If you want to keep the children off limits, yank them off the stage and out of the spotlight. And don't do something dumb, like having the father of your daughter's unborn child show up at the convention to make your daughter even more of a focal point. Oh...too late.

And while we're on the subject, anyone who refers to Palin's daughter as a "slut" in my presence risks developing a fracture of the jaw. As they say, this is what it is. It happened. Let he or she who was not sexually active in their teens cast the first stone. guys, put those stones down...

Seriously. Despite the decision by McCain/Palin to make this into a press release, this is a private matter. We have no more right to intrude into the Palin family business than McCain, Palin, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas or any other of the intrusive big-government advocates in the Republican Party have to intrude into our business.

It goes without saying: "Abstinence Only" doesn't work. Abstinence Only is especially ineffective in cases of rape and incest. Though anti-choice crusaders will tell you that rape and incest are a statistically insignificant fraction of the total number of reasons that abortions are sought. (I had one tell me exactly this, with a sneer, back in college. I'm sure any girls carrying their rapists' seed within them are glad to know they're considered statistically insignificant.)

Finally, when considering the newfound critical importance of "administrative experience" for any candidate for President or Vice-President, consider this: George W. Bush was governor of Texas.

Still not buying it? OK, this one is for any Republicans who have made it this far: Jimmy Carter was governor of Georgia.

Now, let's see what Governor Palin has to say for herself.

*I must confess that I have never visited DailyKos before, and I'm a little bewildered as to what the structure is supposed to be.

**See here for the latest theory on just how brilliant this may have been: was the original teen pregnancy rumor actually a fake story planted by Rove/Mccain/Palin to provide an opportunity to get the real pregnancy story out in the open ahead of the convention?

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