When I heard, last Friday, that John McCain had picked Sarah Palin as his V.P. choice, I knew two things about her: that she was the Governor of Alaska and that she had a child with Down Syndrome. Then I learned that she has five children and a sexist thought entered my mind: “How in the world does a mother of five become Vice-President of the United States and do justice to her family?” I confess – if her husband had been McCain’s choice, the thought would not have occurred to me.
Then I learned that it is her youngest, who is the family’s special needs child, and that he is just an infant, born this year! How does a mother with a nursing baby (she is a good conservative woman, with family values, so she would breast feed, wouldn’t she?) travel all over the world, to represent the United States? Or does she tell the President: “Sorry, John, I can’t go to Ukraine next week, because I’m trying a new brand of diapers with my baby, and he seems to be a little fussy”?
She strikes me as a feisty woman, and I like that, but it seems to me that running the State of Alaska is already a pretty big job for someone with as many family obligations as she has. Aren’t Republicans into work-life balance?
That was Friday. Then came Monday and the revelation that Governor Palin’s 17-year old daughter is pregnant. One, I have since then learned, of 750,000 teenagers in this country who have experienced or will experience a pregnancy this year. A number that is up since the current government began stressing an “abstinence only” policy in sex education, by the way. So, O.K., the daughter, Bristol, is going to marry the baby’s 18-year old father (I wonder who pointed the shotgun at him!) and they will keep the baby – the Republicans currently gathered in St. Paul for their 2008 convention love it!
But what a family under stress! The birth of a baby with Down Syndrome, a teenager’s unplanned pregnancy, a son (18 or 19 years old) who is getting ready to deploy to Iraq, and becoming a grandmother too soon – all in one year! Is it fair on Sarah Palin and her family that she has, quite willingly, even delightedly, been propelled into the vortex of a presidential election campaign? And, is it fair on the country to elect a Vice President – a heartbeat away from being the leader of the free world, as one is often reminded – whose personal life seems to cry out for a great deal of attention and care?
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