Monday, September 1, 2008

The Wisdom of Limits

Barack Obama is showing wisdom and decency here:

"Let me be a clear as possible: I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people's families are off limits," Obama said, "and people's children are especially off limits.

"This shouldn't be part of our politics," he continued, "It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor, or her potential performance as a vice president.

"And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories," he said. "You know my mother had me when she was 18, and how a family deals with issues and, you know, teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that's off limits."
Right. There are valid reasons to doubt Sarah Palin's readiness to be second in line for the presidency, and none of them have to do with her children.

By the same token, the crass political points-scoring runs both ways. Responding to the news that Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant, the McCain-Palin campaign released a statement today stating, in part,
We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. [emphasis mine]
The part about deciding to have the baby strikes an odd note for the campaign since they are actively committed to denying any such decision to pregnant women. They are "proud" of Sarah Palin's daughter for not aborting? Don't they mean to say they're relieved they don't have to face the prospect of bringing her up on murder or manslaughter charges after they successfully criminalize abortion?

Sarah Palin's daughter's reproductive choices are emphatically not my business. They shouldn't be the stuff of national politics, but every political volley invites a return volley. As Barack Obama insisted and as John Cole wisely underscores, off limits means off limits.

1 comment:

Paul said...

I agree Palin's family is off-limits. And I also agree that should not be interpreted to mean her folly in supporting restrictions on reproductive rights and abstinence only sex education is off-limits.