If you've never been in therapy, let me summarize: You can't escape your family. As I watched the vice-presidential selections unfold, I couldn't help noticing that this cliché was holding true. In pleasingly Freudian fashion, Barack Obama hired the father he never had: solid ol' Joe Biden. And John McCain hired a daughter: young, fresh, outspoken Sarah Palin -- a chip off the old maverick block.
While the record does not yet reflect any father-son exchanges between Biden and Obama (though I'm betting they exist), the Republicans' father-daughter dynamic is playing out like Shakespeare. There's John McCain sitting paternally next to Sarah while they talk to Brian Williams, jumping in at times and defending her. Then he tells Tom Brokaw, on last Sunday's Meet the Press, that she needs no defending and he "cannot be more proud of her." Hey, my father (now deceased, but of John McCain's generation) was proud of me too -- and while he never bankrolled me on a $150,000 high-end shopping spree, he did once take me to Bergdorf Goodman for a new dress and coat. That was right after he told me he was divorcing my mother, and in his mind shopping was how fathers helped well-brought-up daughters deal with life's blows. Like McCain -- and his handlers, who by many reports seem to be the true bunglers behind Dressgate -- my father bought his loafers at Ferragamo and would never have known to take someone like Sarah to a young, inexpensive store like H&M. That's just too hip for the Dads (mine or the McCain campaign versions).
And now surprise, surprise, Sarah (the Maverick) is rebelling! (Um, isn't that what mavericks are supposed to do?) Reports on MSNBC last night suggested she was no longer confining herself to campaign-approved talking points and was starting to resist the manhandling that has dragged her so far from her down-home roots. Next she'll be taking a page from Cindy McCain and showing up on the campaign trail in jeans. As all parents (and their therapists) know, adolescence is hell.