SARAH Palin’s quest to become vice-president of the United States is not a victory for women, motherhood, the religious right or the protection of the unborn.
It’s an indictment of a political process that encourages a candidate to sacrifice her children on the altar of personal ambition.
This is a particularly damning indictment of Palin.
Since she sprang to the world’s attention roughly 15 minutes ago, Palin has portrayed herself as a folksy mother of five, the sort of gal who goes to Betty’s Curl Up and Dye in Wasilla, Alaska for a fresh updo every Thursday morning, snowmobiles for fun and keeps a big old bear skin in her office, the former ursine having been shot and killed by her daddy.
She’s all Northern Exposure — a former beauty queen, a little bit quirky, a few rough edges but apparently quite the independent gal. And she sure does love to have children.
There’s little question why John McCain chose her as a running mate.
Together, their average age is 58, an encouraging number for voters who fear the campaign might be enough to finish off poor old McCain’s ticker.
Her addition to the ticket stole Obama’s convention thunder, a slick way to get people off the topic of youth, energy and vitality and back on to a continued Republican death grip on the White House.
Other than a lack of experience (not a small niggle given McCain is 72 and Palin might well end up running America) she seemed ideally suited to the Republican mantle. She opposes gay marriage. She opposes abortion.
She’s got a passel of kids including her youngest, a baby she revealed she and her husband knew had Down syndrome before he was born.
Seemed like an easy sell to Republicans, the undecided and Hillary fans looking for an outlet for their rage.
But here’s the thing: Palin made a pact with the devil. In exchange for a shot at the vice-presidency, she agreed to sacrifice the privacy of her husband and children, to expose them to the relentless glare of the world’s attention, to be judged, scrutinized and inevitably found wanting. And, in the words of the schoolyard whine, she started it.
You can’t claim to hold family sacred while brandishing your son’s special needs status as a shield against your detractors. Mommy could have had an abortion, she said, but chose to bring little Trig into the world. Did we really need to know this?
But that was just the first volley.
Next came word that Palin’s 17-yearold unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. That’s a private crisis by any family’s measure. Palin rushed to assure voters that Bristol is marrying the father of the baby and the couple has the full support of the family.
(The announcement was apparently made to counteract Internet rumours that Bristol was actually Trig’s mother and that Palin had faked her pregnancy to cover things up. I couldn’t make this stuff up).
Just try to imagine being a pregnant high school student and having to share the news with the free world. As one Internet wit wondered Tuesday, are the young couple getting married because Palin is a card-carrying member of the NRA?
Let’s be clear: Women have earned their way into every position out there. Most mothers work outside the home.
They love their jobs, they need the money, they’re not prepared to give up their careers, preferring to perfect the delicate juggling act.
But Sarah Palin is a hypocrite if she waves the crown of motherhood while preparing to spend months on the campaign trail. She can’t simply drag out her five kids for photo ops and send them back to Alaska until she needs them again.
As for young Bristol, poor kid.
Shame on her mother for sacrificing her child’s privacy in order to further her own political ambitions.
A woman has the right to pursue any career she wants, including the presidency. She should have the decency to make sure her children aren’t collateral damage.