Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More on Sarah Palin

The Sarah Palin story is a national Rorschach test.

Let me be clear about my other posts -- I was not saying that I know ANYTHING about why Bristol Palin became pregnant. I was saying that based on Governor Palin's policies, I was pretty sure that she hadn't had discussions about pregnancy prevention in her home. I've also learned through news reports that she didn't have that type of education in her school or her church either. Yes, to some of those who have commented here and on my posts at Huffington and RH RealityCheck, teens who have comprehensive sexuality education get pregnant too. But, again, the research is pretty compelling that when parents talk to their teens about their values about sexual intercourse AND talk to them about contraception and/or condoms, they are more likely to protect themselves.

I am also not saying that Governor Palin is a bad mother for her choice to run. What's so interesting to me is that at least the conservative women I've seen interviewed aren't questioning the ability to take care of five children, two with pressing needs, and run for the second highest office in the country. Could it be that progressive mothers are because we are more likely to be working at executive level jobs and thus more likely to know, to have lived how hard it is to balance the needs of our children and our positions?

I can only speak for myself. I am, as my regular readers know, the proud mother of a now 15 year old son and 23 year old daughter. I have had a career (and indeed a vocation) through their lives. But, I took six months of maternity leave and eased back into work both times with weekly days at home. I have turned down offers to apply for jobs as presidents of much larger organizations because my children were too small for me to have a job that required 24/7. When my daughter became an adolescent, I made the decision to primarily work from home during her high school years. I have worked hard and made choices so that my children would always know and feel that they were my first priority.

I don't think progressive women reacting to Palin are re-igniting the Mommy Wars as the press has said. I don't think progressive women are saying that a working mother can't be President or Vice President. It's more that we can't imagine what it would take to do it -- especially given the Palin family's challenges at this time.

One last word from yesterday's comments -- if the Palin's want to keep Bristol's situation private, then why in heaven would they fly Levi Johnson to the convention?? Will he join them on the stage tonight? Will he be held up as the teenage boy who did right by his girlfriend? Again, I just don't think you can have it both ways.


Anonymous said...

Good posts on this issue. Let's remember that the right has never had a problem making similar comments about the family situations of progressive candidates.

I find humurous that the right and the RNC can't seem to keep from having to reveal their hypocracy:

They slammed Bill C about marijuana, then helped elect an ex coke addict.

They sniped that because Edwards' wife had cancer, he shouldn't run because he would have take care of his young children (our right-loving appologist bloggers forget that), yet the same could be said for Palin.

Spider Robinson was right: God is an Iron.

Family off limits, huh? I think the vaild argument is that progressives don't want to be as bad as conservatives because nothing's off limits to the right.

The problem is that in this current phase our country's history, it doesn't respect the high ground. Ours is a scandle hungry nation, egged on by a unmoral media. If we worry too much about not being percieved as "mean" by those who hate us anyway on the right, then the left will lose.

That loss is measurable:

The lives lost to an Administration that

Would not hed terror warnings
(remember Bill STOPPED 3 terrorist attacks)

Lied to start a war in Iraq.

Lost troops due to undersupporting its war in Afgahnistan. A war that might not have happed if it had paid attention to its experts prior to 9/11.

When we take to high a road we may look nice, but people die.

ejgejg said...

I suppose I see it this way: The right apparently loves to make political points with their own children and families. I don't think they should. And just because they do it, I don't think we should make political points with their children. About sex ed or abortion or anything. If they want to parade their children around as walking political messages, they can, but I wish the left wouldn't go along with it and never use children of politicians to make a political point. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I really understand your point Elizabeth. Your two cents are in a way 2 million dollars to me.

I really wish the voting populace were as a positive a person as you. I really wish the swing voters and the red state mob were the type who got news from multiple sources, dreamed of a multicultural world, and preferred informed discussion over scanalous diatribe.

I hope some day to live in your vision of our country; to smile and salute you, happy as you say "told you so" as we live in an enlightened society.

This isn't that country. This is a WWE, Hooters, People Magazine, Pamela Anderson, T & A, Disney, Gay hating, black bashing, gun loving society. A society where movies with wholesale slaughter featureing more bullets than have been fired in the last 2 wars get a PG-13 rating, but sex and sexuality can easily get NA-17.

Your fellow Americans spend millions to keep you and I in that dark, brutal, sexist society. If we want out, we have to reach them using some form of their favorite language so they vote for that better world you see. We have to trick them.

Then we can change them. Then, Elizabeth, you and I can get out. I look forward to it.

I must also apologize because I forgot to mention some more blood on Bush's hands: those who died due mishandeling Katrina.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty sure that she hadn't had discussions about pregnancy prevention in her home.

Oh, I bet they did. It went something like this:

Mom: "We expect you to not have sex until you get married."

Bristol: "Okay, Mom."

/end of discussion.

Because, you know, just telling them to not have sex is a cure-all for pre-marital sex.

Anonymous said...

Alexa, I fundamentally disagree with Rev. Haffner on many things particularly in the sexual arena. One of the reasons I read this blog, however, is to ensure that I don't fall prey to simplistic caricatures about those who disagree with me. I appreciate that Rev. Haffner is a thoughtful person who has thoughtfully raised her children, though I may ultimately disagree with some of her values.

It's one thing to disagree with the values Governor Palin passed on to her daughter. It's another thing to assume that her presentation of those values is so simplistic.

Anonymous said...


another thing to assume that her presentation of those values is so simplistic.

Almost by definition, the "abstinence only" approach to sex education *is* overly simplistic.

Anonymous said...

That's your opinion. I happen to think it's much more nuanced than that.

Your accusation about Governor Palin is no different than me presuming that Rev. Haffner told her daughter to "Just take this". I know that's not the case, however, because I haven't bought into a stereotype.

Anonymous said...

Wow. And here it was that I thought all of the narrow minded bigots were Republicans. The various responses, as well as the owner of this blog, would fit right into the stereotype that the "progressives" like to condemn the "conservatives" for being.

And Chuck:

Let me remind you of a few things. The attack on the USS Cole. Attack on US Base in Saudi Arabia. Two attacks on US Embassies in Africa. And - best (or is it worst) of all - Osama Bin Laden planned his attack on the World Trade Center while Bill was president. It was all in place before George came to Washington. It would have happened no matter who was president (even Al Gore).

Debra W. Haffner said...

Jim, as a first time commenter here, I am committed to having my blog be a place where people treat each other with dignity and respect. I don't understand where your narrow minded bigot comment comes from, and I generally would not have posted it but I thought the second point was important. But, I hope in the future you will continue to read and comment more civilly.

Cassandra, I'm glad you read this. You know that. I think though there is a difference here -- You know I didn't say that because you know that I have written in my books and on this blog that I believe high school teenagers should abstain from intercourse. So, people don't have to imagine what messages I give to my teenage children. We don't know what Governor Palin said in her home, but we do know what she said publicly, and that the schools and church our children attend only talk about abstaining until marriage. I'd be delighted to find out that includes contraception and STD prevention information for teens and young adults who choose otherwise but I kinda doubt it.

Anonymous said...

We don't know what she said home, but I think it's presumptuous to assume that it simply consisted of an exhortation to refrain from sex. Are you buying into a stereotype?

I believe in abstaining until marriage, but I certainly plan to do more than just tell my children not to have sex. Ultimately, I don't plan to pass on the same values to my children that you have passed on to yours, but that doesn't mean my values will be passed on in a one-liner.