Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert J. Elisberg Headshot

Sarah and Bristol Palin: One Child Left Behind

Posted: Updated:
Print

This didn't just happen over night. It didn't even happen during the shameless campaign. It began afterwards, with the Fox TV interview that Bristol Palin gave with her baby, as Sarah Palin hovered behind. It grew when the unwed mother claimed to be a spokesperson for abstinence. (A message her son will no doubt love to hear one day). But even that wasn't perverse enough to provoke a reaction.

No, it was finally when visiting a friend's home the other day that I gaped, unbelieving, at a recent copy of People magazine with Bristol Palin on the cover, in a fire engine red graduation cap-and-gown, so you couldn't possibly miss her - holding her baby in her arms.

At long last, I was disgustipated.

Yes, I know that's not a real word. But an expression from Popeye cartoons is more appropriate than anything I can possibly think of.

I don't care what Bristol Palin has to say. I wish her an exceedingly happy life, but it's her life. Beyond that, she's a teenage girl whose entire claim to fame is that her mother is a failed vice-presidential candidate, and she got knocked up in high school. When Bristol Palin asked America to accept her as a spokesperson for abstinence, can you name one other thing you ever heard her say - let alone say that would make you think she was qualified to be the spokesperson for anything?

Is this unfair and mean of me? No. She and her mother have shoved themselves in our national face. They have said, "Here we are world! Bristol wants to be a role model. Listen to her. Look at her. It's Bristol!!"

Sarah and Bristol Palin have chosen to pummel America by lecturing on abstinence. Except for that part about how cool it is to be a high school graduate with your baby.

If someone is shoved in your face, you react. Just like if you got smashed in the head with a baseball bat. The difference is there the perpetrator would be arrested after the first attack. This just won't stop.

But that isn't what has me disgustipated.

Just imagine if this had happened to a Democrat. Can you even comprehend the mountain of non-stop venom that would have spewed forth against that candidate - and also against the libertine, pregnant, teenage daughter? Rush Limbaugh would have ranted about little else. Glenn Beck would have been in tears over what this said about his America. Sean Hannity would questioned how a candidate so unfit to lead his own family could think about leading the nation. Ann Coulter would have screeched how this proves what is wrong with all permissive liberals. Newt Gingrich would have made his "Americans are surrounded by paganism" speech months earlier than he did.

It would all have been malarkey, but you know they would have all done it.

But Sarah Palin, the flaming hypocrite who preached against this very sort of thing like a demagogue zealot, she got a pass from them all.

But that's not what disgustipated me either.

What finally disgustipated me is that throughout the campaign, Sarah Palin whined regularly that her family was off-limits (which they should have been) - yet used them as circus props more than Barnum and Bailey. At every appearance, her new baby was hanging on her shoulder like it was an epaulet. To promote being a hockey "mom," she dragged her youngest daughter to center ice. She hauled the pregnant Bristol with her all over, even making sure that the fake-fiancé was there for every disingenuous photo op. (If ever there was a new meaning for the term "forced labor," this was it.) The only people surprised when the couple broke off their faux-engagement were those who thought Sarah Palin was actually a foreign policy expert because she could see Russia from the beach.

And then, after declaring her family off-limits (which they should be), there was Sarah Palin skulking behind her daughter during her Fox TV interview. There was Bristol Palin wanting to be a spokesperson. And here is Bristol Palin now posing for the cover of People magazine in red cap-and-gown-and-baby. A photo carefully planned and executed, because Sarah Palin was happy to again use her family as campaign billboard.

The pathetic irony, of course, is that an unwed pregnant daughter is everything Sarah Palin rails against. Only last week she told an audience, "I'm concerned about my kids' future." It's their past, though, that's the problem here. If you're really concerned about their future, you don't keep sticking them in front of TV cameras and national magazines for public scrutiny to serve your selfish political needs. Because that scrutiny can only lead to ridicule.

Spokesperson for abstinence? Bristol Palin has made herself the poster child for getting famous by getting pregnant. She couldn't have provided teenage girls a better roadmap to "how to become a star" if she was cover girl for the Auto Club.

Is all this unfair and mean of me? If Bristol Palin wants to be a role model, like all parents she should raise her child in private grace and loving dignity, for - I can only assume - the child's sake. That would be a role model to admire. But if she, as an adult, chooses to stick herself and her child in the public spotlight and professes to be a spokesperson for anything, she is fair to be looked at, just as she wishes.

With her mother right behind, pushing.