Spinning Sarah Palin


The Disassociated Press, September 2, 2008


I've been interested to watch this Palin nomination unfold.  It's confirmed what I've long known: regardless of the "facts on the ground," Republicans can always spin them to their advantage.  At least this is certainly true of the drooling mass of Republican faithful.  For them, America is a big football field and politics is a team sport.  As long as you're wearing the right jersey, it's Go, team!


Now we've got this teen pregnancy issue.  Let's face it: Republicans, given their mind-defying ability to spin, almost can't lose in this regard.  Given the self-congratulatory logic of the typical Republican "thought process," how could anything really stick to one of their candidates? 


My point is simple: No matter the state of her daughter's sexual self--pregnant, unpregnant, or even if the girl had had an abortion--Republicans will find a way to spin it to the good.  At least as far as Republican voters go, anything can be spun as yet another reason to support the candidate.  The only thing that would really sink Palin's approval rating here is if Bill Clinton were discovered to be the father.


Let's imagine for a moment that Palin's teen daughter wasn't pregnant.  Imagine that she practiced abstinence, following her mom's doomed education policy.  Well, that would obviously reflect well on Sarah Palin, wouldn't it, because it would show her as a strong mother whose daughter followed her example.  With an abstinent teen daughter, the verdict would be clear: Sarah Palin is a Christian mother and woman that conservatives should support.


Now imagine instead (and it isn't hard) that Palin's daughter is pregnant.  Imagine she plans to have the baby and marry her boyfriend.  I guess the abstinence thing didn't work, but, at the end of the day, this can still only reflect well on Sarah Palin, because it shows, first, that she's "human," and, second, that she doesn't merely talk the pro-life line, but "lives it" in her own family.  We're already hearing how the evangelicals, who liked Palin before her daughter was pregnant, are now almost in swoons over her.  And again the verdict is clear: with a pregnant teen daughter, Sarah Palin is a Christian woman that conservatives should support.


But just for the sake of argument, let's imagine a third possibility.  Let's imagine Monday's news revealed that early this year Sarah Palin's teen daughter Bristol, impregnated by her boyfriend, went and secretly got an abortion without her mother's knowledge.  This, I think, would tarnish the image of Palin's family among many conservative supporters.  It would knock that support down a bit, wouldn't it?  And certainly if this were the news, McCain would probably regret his VP choice. 


But I can see an out here even so.  It would all depend on how Palin and the GOP staged things.  I see the GOP spinning it as follows: Sarah Palin and her daughter were "victims" of the liberal-leaning school authorities in her district or of Planned Parenthood services in her Alaska community.  The daughter was "confused," "browbeaten" by her friends and boyfriend, and is now "traumatized."  The mother, we learn, has prayed and gone many a sleepless night over what has happened--a terrible outcome she learned of too late.  We see a slightly tearful but still fundamentally strong woman on our TV screens, bemoaning how her daughter had been misled, how she'd been taken "down that dark road so many of our girls are dragged down."


Yes, it might not amount to a boost for Republicans if this were going on, but you know what?  I think many of the evangelicals would be taken in.  And many of the rank and file would be taken in.  In short, I think such an event could be spun to the GOP advantage.  Which is to say that the verdict would still come out right: though her teen daughter had had an abortion, Sarah Palin would still be a Christian mother and woman that conservatives should support.  All the more so--I can hear them already--as she's "already suffered so much."  "We're praying for the family, praying for Bristol," etc., etc.


The point is simple.  Regardless of what happens or happened with her daughter, the fact that Sarah Palin is already on the Republican ticket means that an amazing Spinning Power will spin away anything problematic and easily catapult her up into the Shiny Starlight of White House Material. 


Which is ridiculous.  Palin does not seem to me like White House material.  I agree with Senator Obama that criticizing her because of her daughter's pregnancy is totally inappropriate.  I think, however, that trying to hold her up as a somehow better VP candidate because of this pregnancy is approaching absurd.  And this is what some of the evangelicals are doing.  Already.


This pregnancy issue only distracts Americans from what should be happening now.  Namely a substantive discussion of how surprisingly inexperienced McCain's choice for VP is.  It's one thing to be governor of Alaska, another to lead America out of the mess the Bush administration has left it in.


Given John McCain's age, his VP pick should be ready to assume the presidency.  Sarah Palin isn't.  She should not be a heartbeat away from running our country.




The following article is well done:









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