Laurie and Debbie say:
Sarah Palin is a terrible choice for vice president. To pick just a few reasons: 1) she’s vehemently anti-choice; 2) it seems likely that she pulled strings to get her sister-in-law’s ex-fiancee fired (and at least one other public figure got fired along the way); and 3) she reportedly believes in banning books from libraries.
These are good reasons to oppose Palin. We are, however, disturbed by the media focus on her family life, her children, and her parenting, just as (even though neither of us were Hillary Clinton supporters), we hated to see the way her political enemies and the media kept creating criticisms based on her being a woman.
People are not consistent and people’s private lives are their own. It is virtually impossible to sort out the mother/daughter interactions of the people you know best, to be sure (for example) which actions reflect parental guidance and which reflect adolescent defiance.
And if you believe that a woman’s body is really her own, then you have to believe that having children at 17, or raising a child that might have been borne by your daughter (which it seems very clear that Palin did not do, but many other women have) is a woman’s private choice. If you believe that Bill Clinton’s behavior with Monica was either not an issue or “only an issue because he lied about it,” if you believe that Larry Craig had every right to be doing whatever he did in that men’s room in Minneapolis, then pointing fingers at Sarah Palin for her reproductive history and that of her daughters is hard to justify.
Both of us despise “abstinence only” sex education. However, we’ve known young women to get pregnant after every kind of sex education and parental intervention under the sun. Debbie can name you a case where the parents left condoms out for their three daughters with a “we’ll shake the box, refill it if it’s empty, and otherwise never look” deal and two of the three girls were pregnant out of wedlock before they were 18.
The same goes for how big a family “should” be before a mother “has” to stay home (or how able the children have to be). It even goes for “exposing your poor children to public scrutiny.” Hell, Chelsea Clinton was exposed to years of completely inappropriate fat jokes and other nastinesses, and is still a John McCain cheap-shot target, and even at the worst times of Bill Clinton’s presidency, there was no groundswell of “he’s a bad father because of what he’s doing to Chelsea.” If Barack Obama had an unmarried pregnant daughter, his political enemies and the media would be having a vicious field day that makes any controversy over Sarah Palin look like a polite disagreement at a formal wedding.
The litmus test is actually simple: can you imagine anyone criticizing a man because he accepted the vice-presidential nomination even though he has a child with Down syndrome? No? Then you know what that criticism is worth.
Men get criticized for who they have sex with, and when, and where, and whether or not they tell the truth about it. Women get criticized for how they deal with the results of sex. We say: attack Sarah Palin, and Larry Craig, and Dennis Vitter for their positions, not their behavior. Given who these people are in their public life, it shouldn’t even slow us down much.