Wednesday, February 18, 2009


While I had hoped the media would move on from this poorly named family, the Palins have another child, this one called Tripp. And Bristol just did her best to tell the truth about her difficult situation before Sarah jumped in to remind the media of her mad jumble of BS talking points. This Salon article frames the interview pretty well, I encourage you to read it.

Some highlights:

Fox instead couched much of the story as a cutesy-poo introduction to Tripp (who seems temporarily to have replaced Trig, Sarah Palin's night-owl infant, as the family football), whom Bristol described as both "awesome" and "very, very, very cute."


I guess not. Van Susteren then did ask her, in a roundabout way, about whether she had a religious or philosophical objection to contraception. Bristol said, "No, I don't want to get into detail about that." And then came the line that would come to stand in for the whole interview: "Everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it's not realistic at all."


But the whole awkward purity of Bristol's interview got wrecked once Mama Palin purportedly "surprised" the pair by entering the room holding Tripp, offering him to her daughter and asking, "You want this joy?"

Gov. Palin opened by claiming to be "proud of [Bristol] wanting to take on an advocacy role and just let other girls know that it's not the most ideal situation but certainly you make the most of it." It was like the elder Palin had put her daughter's words through a meat grinder: What Bristol had said was that she wanted to let other girls know that they should wait 10 years, that their lives would shift beneath their feet.

"Bristol is a strong and bold young woman," Palin said, as Bristol sat quietly -- after her mother entered, she barely spoke further -- "and she is an amazing mom, and this little baby is very lucky to have her as a momma. He's gonna be just fine. We're very proud of Bristol." Palin was missing the point, or part of it, or perhaps making it even louder: Bristol's self-professed desire to prevent teen pregnancy is not just about whether this little baby is going to be just fine, it is about whether his momma is.


So the bigger message here, as spun by Greta Van Susteren and Sarah Palin, is that abstinence is a naive peg on which to hang our contraceptive hopes, but that when our daughters reproduce before they finish high school, we need to move beyond it -- not to discussions of birth control and abortion, but to the fact that the Palins are an unusually big, helpful, supportive group, and that other less fortunate young mothers should go out and get multigenerational families to help them out because it's not the government's responsibility.

How perfectly, sadly nonsensical. And how poignant that the untrained and unrehearsed and inelegant message of the young woman who actually had the baby, the one who said, "I think everyone should just wait 10 years," made far more sense than the politicized jabbering of her elders.

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