Eric Marcus

Doing the Right Thing?

Filed By Eric Marcus | September 02, 2008 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Bristol Palin, John McCain, johnston, levi johnston, palin, palin baby, Sarah Palin

I don't understand all the praise I'm hearing from Republicans and Christian conservatives about Bristol Palin (the 17-year-old daughter of VP pick Sarah Palin) doing the right thing by having her baby and marrying the baby's father.

Is it a good idea for any 17-year-old high school student to raise her baby--and to do so with the baby's 18-year-old father, especially when that father is a self-described "f*#%in' redneck" who doesn't want children? Doesn't this sound like a prescription for disaster for everyone involved? (Don't even think about arguing with me over whether teenagers are well-equipped to be parents--with extraordinarily few exceptions they're not.)

Who benefits from this misguided scenario? Bristol? The baby? Bristol's boyfriend? The grandparents (who are looking forward to being "proud grandparents")? John McCain and the Republican Party?

This story is all about failure. Our failure to educate teens about how to deal with their sexuality (well beyond the mechanics of reproduction and abstinence). The failure of Bristol and her boyfriend, Levi Johnston, to use a condom every time. The failure of Bristol's parents to consider what is best for their daughter and grandchild. It's also a failure of good judgment. Whether or not Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president (and she's clearly not), why would she catapult her teenaged daughter into the eye of a national media storm at such a challenging moment in her life?

The sad fact is that Bristol Palin has no choice when it comes to her future. So when Sarah Palin speaks of her daughter's "decision" to have the baby, keep it, and to raise it with the father who she will soon marry, she's being less than honest. There were no decisions to be made because Bristol's parents and her church have left her with no options other than those announced to the national press. The Republicans may claim that this is all about family values. To me it sounds more like crime and punishment.

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Eric: Thanks for telling it like it is. Who is going to *parent* that 17 year old, or her little baby?

Would you be asking these questions if it were Michelle Obama's daughter?

Or would you be defending her from the scurrilous attacks of the Rabid Right, who would be asking the same questions?

Perhaps you noticed that this is not about Michelle Obama's daughter. This is about the Palin family and to talk about hypotheticals is beside the point (and a feeble diversionary tactic employed all too often by those who prefer not to talk about the facts as they exist). Tell me what you think about the Palin situation. Would you have handled these circumstances differently if you were Sarah Palin?

Tell me what you think about the Palin situation. Would you have handled these circumstances differently if you were Sarah Palin?
Funny you should say that... my sister was in a similar situation. Now I love my parents, but they threw her out of the house for bringing shame to the family. I was 12 at the time, and I can remember my father weeping for weeks, silent tears streaming down his face, for what he thought he had to do. Oh, they made sure she had money, as much as they could afford and some besides. We ate a lot of rice for months, even tins of beans were too expensive.

I have a nephew who I've never seen. Put up for adoption shortly after birth, and my sister has refused all contact with him.

So my personal opinion is that the situation could have been handled a lot worse.

As for what I would have done? I wouldn't have run for VP, not with all the malicious, mendacious and thoroughly evil people out to persecute my children in order to get at me, no.

US politics on both sides is far too slimy. There are too many on both sides of politics so convinced of their own moral rectitude, their own righteousness, that no action, no matter how evil, can't be justified in their own minds.

No, I don't mean you. But have a good look at what others are doing, and examine what kind of meme you're propagating here.

I'm reminded of another moment in American politics, when partisanship overcame all ethical boundaries.

Welch responded, "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or your recklessness[...]" When McCarthy resumed his attack, Welch interrupted him: "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
I saw the same kind of thing with Dick Cheney's daughter. Enough. I don't care whether "we" do it, or "they" do it, this must cease.

Dear Zoe,
Thanks for elaborating. I'm very sorry for what happened to your sister. Simply tragic for everyone in your family. I hope that your nephew has had a good life with the family that adopted him.

BeachcomberT | September 3, 2008 7:48 AM

Zoe, as an adoptee, I agree with you 100 percent. No outsider, certainly not the media or a blogger, can judge what is "best" for the Palin family, so please just drop it and turn to national issues. Regardless of whether they are conservative or liberal, any politician who aspires to high office while he or she still has young children at home basically is telling them, in essence, "I am abandoning you for the greater good of the country." Do you think President Obama will have lots and lots of "quality time" to give to his daughters? Don't the biographies of the children of FDR, Ronald Reagan, Nixon and many others tell this sad story over and over?

I think that if this were Michelle Obama, we'd have wall-to-wall coverage of it on TV until Obama dropped out. Seriously.

Eric, I totally agree. This sounds like Jamie Lynn Spears all over again.

I see the whole thing as one big tragedy for young Bristol and Levi.Their costly youthful mistake has catapulted them to the national spotlight and made them poster children for both the left and the right.For me it doesn't matter who's daughter it is or what party the parents belong to putting the child into this situation given her lack of understanding of what's at stake is just wrong..There are thousands of teenage mother's to be in this country and a need for a better system of sex ed not just for the children but for the closed minded religious excuse wind bags.

"Their costly youthful mistake has catapulted them to the national spotlight and made them poster children for both the left and the right."

No, it wasn't their mistake that put them in this position. It was her mother choosing to run for VP during this time of Bristol's need, as a right wing, anti-abortion, anti-sex-ed, anti-premarital-sex, candidate that highlights the shortcomings of these policies.


To the commenter who asked, "Would you be asking these questions if it were Michelle Obama's daughter?" A hypothetical question for now, but ...

I Thank we can rest assured in the knowledge that Michelle Obama would teach her daughters about the pill, and condoms and about the self-righteous religious right and all the hypocrisy that they spew. In the meantime, the Palins need to reflect on their own failures and Sarah needs to get back to Alaska and take care of life in her ridgid little way.

Having lived in Bible Belt states, you often see this type of "marriage" where the man is the "Man" of the house, as commanded by the Baptist beliefs, leading to wife beatings (well justified because she was not minding her husband) eventually leading to divorce.
Oh the things you learn while being a long time member of a singles square dance club.
It just sickens me to think what they are forcing on that poor girl.

Ugh. This just sounds like a recipe for domestic violence and disaster. Palin should be ashamed of herself, on SO many levels.

I blogged about this today ( and I noted that the whole story is so 1950's...when "shotgun weddings" were the norm. The teenage pregnancy rate was way higher 50 years ago than it is today; it's just that they got married, so the birth rate to UNMARRIED teenagers was much lower. I wish Bristol Palin could take advantage of the advances of the last several decades to make her own decision about this pregnancy. No chance of that.

Hi Nancy!
Thanks for providing the link. Really interesting background information about life in the 1950s. Who could have imagined! The more things change... I urge readers to visit your post.

Did you notice that Sarah Palin's wedding was also a "shotgun wedding?" They "eloped" and had Bristol less than 9 months later. Apple meet tree.

Comprehensive sex ed could have prevented the whole damn sorry mess.

couldn't be bristol....they have an older son (off to Iraq next month)

who says they didn't use protection every time? my sister did use protection every time and she got pregnant at 17. she stayed with the father, eventually got married, and now they are happily celebrating their 11th anniversary. (granted, she got married on her own terms, not because of any pressure she felt.) i know the joys and struggles this poor girl will go through. she doesn't need anyone's judgment.

Rick Elliott | September 3, 2008 2:05 AM

I found out an interesting thing from People's Republic of China. In the event of a ciold conceived out of wedlock, both families pay a fine amounting to almost a year's salary. If either of the couple are employed by the state, their job is immediately terminated. While this is rather draconian, it emphasizew the families responsibility toward their children's behavior.
I fervently believe that every child planned for and eagerly anticipated. I believe the child has that right to be prepared for. We now have birth control methods that are simple and reletively easy to use.
Now I mount my soapbox. I believe it's winful for the Roman Catholic Church to continue their policy on birth control.Maybe they should be presented with the children the parents couldn't care for. Let them who fight planned parenthood,be the ones who take responsibility for their decision and care for the children.

Let's think about another scenario, Eric. If McCain/Palin are elected, God forbid, what happens to Bristol?

By then she will have given birth. She will likely be 5,000 miles away from her home, all of her friends, and the baby's father. Unless, they are married by that time. Will he live with her and her family in DC, or would she stay behind in Alaska without her family, to live with her 18 year old husband?

If it's the former, you know damned well that grandma vice president will be raising her one month old grandchild, as well as her seven month old son, as well as the rest of the children.

If it's the latter, heaven help everyone; especially the baby.

I find it curious that so many of us are continuing to engage in what has boiled down to junior high-style gossip, days and days after this story first broke. On the one hand, we say "how dare Sarah Palin run for VP during her daughter's time of need" while at the same time casting severe judgement on the Palin family, and asserting that we know the causes of this pregnancy as well as what Michelle Obama would do. I think this whole conversation is extremely inappropriate, considering that most of us have acknowledged how deeply personal the situation is. The assertion that comprehensive sex ed would have "saved" Bristol is ridiculous - yes, it's an absolute necessity for adolescents, but it's certainly not a guarantee, nor is condom use.

Instead of throwing all of our rage at the Palin family for Bristol's pregnancy, perhaps we should be channeling that energy into getting the story off the front cover of every single mainstream celebrity magazine, every 24 hour news network, etc, because we are ultimately exploiting Bristol just as much as her mother is - probably more so.

Those of us with longer presidential political campaign memories recall how the Right Wing Noise Machine savagely attacked then 13 year old Chelsea Clinton.

Like when McCain joked that Chelsea was ugly because Janet Reno was her father?