Monday, September 1, 2008

Bringing Up Baby

With apologies to Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn for stealing the title of this post, the story of Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy has grown legs and is running on its own. Let me hasten to state at the outset that I affirm my earlier conviction that the matter of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and her choice to do whatever she chooses to do about it is nobody else’s business. However, it has become the business of a lot of other people in terms of how the story got out and the reactions to it, making it the political hot potato of the day.

Almost immediately the McCain campaign blamed the “liberal bloggers” for boosting the original story about the “whose baby is it?” question, and then they said that because the buzz was making a huge unseemly deal about it, they were somehow forced to reveal the matter of the younger Ms. Palin’s pregnancy. Well, I’ve been to a number of liberal blogs and checked in on their reaction, and most, if not all, have taken the tack I have: it’s nobody’s business and leave it alone. (If you have evidence to the contrary, let me know via the comments.) But I can’t help but wonder about a couple of things.

First, this immediate rush to blame the liberals — and somehow work the Obama campaign into it — smells a bit of “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The McCain campaign and the right-wing Orcosphere would love nothing better than to have the lefties go off into paroxysms of schadenfreude and hypocrite-screaming, but so far, that dog hasn’t really barked (including this one).

Second, the story indicates that the McCain campaign really didn’t do their homework when it came to vetting Gov. Palin for the job. My guess is that if she had been asked “is there anything in your family that could prove to be embarrassing if it got out,” she, being the supremely moral person she and her supporters paint her to be, would have said, “Well, yes, my 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and as yet unmarried.” Whether or not that would or should be a deal-breaker for her vice presidential candidacy is something only the McCain campaign could decide, but with their intense desire to cozy up to the Religious Reich, I’m pretty sure that the news that abstinence-only education didn’t take hold in Juneau would not sit well in Colorado Springs. And if the McCain campaign thought that they could slip this one by the electorate, their presumption of stupidity on the part of the electorate is immeasurable.

Even if the play about the baby (HT Edward Albee) had not come up, the original question remains: what was John McCain thinking when he chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate? Did he know anything about her, or did he go with his gut, as he’s proud of saying he often does? In this case, the guts that are churning are probably those in the G.O.P. and the spectre of the late Thomas Eagleton must be hovering over the McCain campaign. And laughing.