Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Concern Trolling of Sarah Palin

Megan McArdle is so very, very, very concerned about Obama supporters -- including, it would seem, Obama supporters that only exist in the caverns of her imagination and the phantasms of straw-man arguments. Seemingly at wit's end, she asks:

So this is what this race has come down to? Arguing about the fecundity of Sarah Palin's daughter? This is news because . . . ?
And then proceeds to answer her own question as follows:
... Because Sarah Palin lied about sex? ...
Uh, no. She lied about sex?
... Because Sarah Palin is a bad mother? ...
Uh, no. I have no reason to think so. Who cares or knows enough to say so? Megan M. doesn't bother quoting the person behind the straw.
... Because Sarah Palin is a social conservative and therefore a hypocrite? ...
I'm not aware of anything in her daughter's pregnancy per se that marks Sarah Palin as a hypocrite. I do think hypocrisy attaches to social conservatism as racism attaches to KKK membership, but that's not to say that every known fact about a given social conservative evinces hypocrisy. Her daughter is pregnant. This does not make her a hypocrite. Someone is saying it does? Who?
... Because Sarah Palin made the decision to keep the Down's baby a selling point? ...
Now we're getting somewhere. Yes, the making the baby a selling point, combined with the whining to keep family matters private, smacks of hypocrisy. It says: adore me because of my private family decisions, but if you want to criticize me for my private family decisions, I will cry "privacy." That's hypocrisy. But please note: the Downs baby has nothing to do with Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy, and anyone (who?) confusing the two is making a basic factual error. The Downs baby is the sibling of the pregnant teenager under discussion.
... Because Sarah Palin should have encouraged her daughter to get an abortion? ...
Whuh? The pro-choice position would insist that the decision is exclusively the province of Sarah Palin and her family. That Palin chose against abortion is, under the terms of the pro-choice position, not anyone else's business. An outside party claims it is not only his/her business, but asserts that abortion should have been the Palin family's decision? Who? On what grounds?
... Because social conservatives are against sex education emphasizing birth control? ...
Again, it would be helpful to know the specific argument behind this straw-man. Social conservatives like Palin are against sex education emphasizing birth control. Those who oppose abstinence-only sex education (as I do) point out that it too often results in precisely what we see here, a pregnant teenager. At most, this can be seen as a tiny piece of data that scores a point in favor of reality-based sex education. Again, I'm not sure who is taking the opportunity to dance that particular victory dance. I am not. My actual suspicion is that Sarah Palin's daughter understood the foreseeable consequences of her sexual behavior; and this follows from my actual belief that teenagers tend to get pregnant for reasons that correlate only weakly with the material they encounter in sex-ed classes. In short, if our differences on sex education were the only thing I could find by way of shortcomings in the candidacy of Sarah Palin, this would not be my Nth straight breathless, tedious post about her candidacy.
... Because all the hyperventilating Obama supporters pretending that they are genuinely morally outraged are willing to say anything to get him elected, even if if means prying into the personal life of a seventeen year old girl who has just been thrust into adulthood in a humiliatingly public way? ...
Whuh? As I understand the Christian conservative position, becoming pregnant is a wonderful gift from god. If that's so, wherefore the humiliation? In any case, I am not morally outraged about Sarah Palin's family choices. I am not morally outraged about the fact that one of her daughters is pregnant. All else equal, I would prefer to return to the blissful ignorance of Sarah Palin and her family that I enjoyed a week ago.

I am a combination of outraged, amused, and stupefied that Sarah Palin has been named John McCain's running mate. I realize that she stands a good chance of becoming the country's next vice president, and apart from my disagreements with her on a wide range of policy matters, I genuinely doubt her readiness for that role. Her daughter, pregnant or not, has nothing to do with it.


Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Nicely smacked down.

So the hypocrisy and sanctimony are off the table? And they call McArdle a center-left pundit?

The bizarre claim that Sarah Palin herself was pregnan indicates enough dishonesty to disqualify herself from any credible leadership, and tells me that they know how having this situation looks.

The very nature of the claim suggests either a lack of sanity or contempt for the vox pop.

I'm not some prig who demands necessarily that every person who preaches to me be someone who's never made a mistake. But I do expect people to preach to me from a position of integrity. This is more than mere hypocrisy, this is republican™ brand hypocrisy, which has the additional features of remorselessless and shamelessness.

Mike said...

Something I think has to be recognized amid all the "it's nobody's business but the family's" statements is that the press is not a monolith. Even if the political press dropped this, the celebrity press would never let it go;it's exactly what their industry is based on.

By accepting McCain's offer to run, Sarah Palin made herself a "celebrity" and tossed her family into the spotlight. Even if she withdraws, or they lose the election and she stays in Alaska, that spotlight will never go away entirely. Maybe they can do a Pitt/Jolie and sell baby pictures to the highest bidder.