It’s important that progressives be clear in their discussion of the issue of Sarah Palin’s 17 year-old daughter’s pregnancy. The issue is not that her daughter is pregnant. That is something that unfortunately happens to too many American teenagers. But it is a personal issue and should remain so.
The real issue here is the betrayal of Palin’s own religious values that such a pregnancy represents. I can hear evangelicals across America groan as they read this news or hear it on their TVs. While Christians are supposed to be a forgiving lot, they can be surprisingly unforgiving about those among the flock who stray from the straight and narrow. I just can’t see how Palin can carry these voters with her in November.
Even Palin’s claim that the father of her daughter’s child will “make an honest woman of her” doesn’t seem like it will mollify the Christian base:
On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.
If you add to this the other oddities of her background that are coming to light–membership in a political party that advocated Alaskan secession; touting her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere which she actually supported for a significant portion of her political career; carrying on a political-personal vendetta against a former brother-in-law who divorced her sister–she begins to seem like the sort of damaged goods that will not help McCain’s campaign.
The only question is whether the drumbeat of bad press and tawdry revelations slackens or rises in the days ahead. My guess is that they will not slacken. I don’t know where that leaves McCain. I don’t see how he can dump her this late in the game. But if he doesn’t, then she hangs like an albatross around his neck for the duration of the campaign. I guess he can try to stuff her in a closet or the third floor garret like Mr. Rochester does to his crazy first wife in Jane Eyre. But it still won’t look good.
My guess is that as soon as the convention ends you’re never going to see Sarah Palin and John McCain in the same room again. Instead, McCain will be seen palling with Joe and Mitt and Mike and maybe even Rudy. But certainly not Sarah. And if he somehow wins the presidency, Sarah Palin’s main assignment as vice president will be ironing the doilies in the White House mess.