01 September 2008

Knocked Up: A Live Blog While Watching CNN

Oooooooooo, breaking news that Sarah Palin's daughter is a baby mama. (Maybe FOXNews can finally use that phrase in the correct context.)

Now, of course all these reporters are asking Obama to say something about the situation; he chose the high road (and for once, I agree with Bill Bennett who said whatever the reason--politics or personal ethics--it was a good move) and denounced talking about families during the campaign.

Democrats aren't usually ones to hit families (think of Billy Carter, Roger Clinton, and even McCain's imaginary Black child in the 2000 primary), so that call is probably more rhetoric than substance. Obama should have, however, used the response to put the ball firmly in the Republican court. Responding that Dems aren't really the ones who have the problem with this issue and suggesting that those questions are more appropriate for McCain, Bush, Rick Warren, James Dobson, etc. They are the ones who usually have an issue with this sort of thing. They are the ones who would be scandalized if it happened to someone they knew. Dems don't tend to be judgmental about this sort of thing--and indeed, Obama admitted his mother had him when she was 18 and he was conceived out of wedlock. It would have driven the point home--without being a "dick move"--on the differences between Democrats and Republicans on this issue.

But either Obama and the Dems didn't want to, were afraid to (the likeliest case), or didn't think of (which I seriously doubt since I thought of it in 5 minutes) hitting this note. I just don't see why there was such delicacy in this area. Sure an "I-told-you-so" is inappropriate, but it wouldn't hurt to put the conservative base to it and see what they say in response.

UPDATE: And now I am disagreeing with Bill Bennett again. Short honeymoon, I guess. Bennett is upset that the Center for Reproductive Rights has already made a statement regarding Bristol Palin and her baby. Of course, it's attacking abstinence-only education for sexual education. Bennett did not like this and ranted that it's exactly what Obama just asked people not to do. I disagree for 2 reasons.

  1. Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council said, "Fortunately, Bristol is following her mother and father's example of choosing life in the midst of a difficult situation. We are committed to praying for Bristol and her husband-to-be and the entire Palin family as they walk through a very private matter in the eyes of the public." He said this today. He's attempting to downplay Bristol's mistake (premarital sex, getting knocked up) and playing up her choices that do fall in line with his organization's policies (pro-life). If Perkins can do it, why can't the CCR? I just don't understand why when something happens to a conservative it's private and is never discussed in terms of national policy (Rush Limbaugh and drug addiction, Bill Bennett and gambling, Larry Craig and homosexuality, etc.). Outlawing abortion, which McCain and Palin both support, seems to take away that personal, individual choice. It ceases to allow a difficult situation like this to be a "private matter" and involves the government in what would otherwise be a medical and moral issue that should not extend beyond the bounds of the family.
  2. Obama was talking about the election and the campaign, not about issues. Sure the Dems shouldn't use this for cheap political points, but advocacy groups aren't running for office and don't have any reason to follow those rules--especially when it hits right at the heart of the issue they center their work on. Talking about it makes total sense to me. The CRR is all about sex-ed and is against what Palin's mom stands for, so there's no reason not to point to Bristol as a shining example of the policy failures they see right now. Bennett's argument that we should stay away from family issues is either disengenuous or deeply flawed because people and the events and issues in their lives make up the damn policy. Bennett seems to have forgotten that the government exists to serve and protect the people, and the people do not exist to advance some sort of governmental moral imperative.

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