Poor Sarah Palin, Joan Vennochi writes today in the Boston Globe: Even though she has no shot at the presidency, Republicans and Democrats still fear her and attack her.
And her teenage daughter, apparently. Right across the New York Times editorial page from Nicolas Kristof’s column on the sex trafficking of teenage girls, Gail Collins tears into eighteen-year-old Bristol Palin:
But surely, when it comes to combating teen pregnancy, the Palin family has done enough damage already. What worse message could you send to teenage girls than the one they delivered at the Republican convention: If your handsome but somewhat thuglike boyfriend gets you with child, he will clean up nicely, propose marriage, and show up at an important family event wearing a suit and holding your hand. At which point you will get a standing ovation.
Interesting. I thought that the message the Palin family sent was: If you get pregnant outside of wedlock, your family might support and embrace you, despite the fact that they do not approve of pre-marital sex and that difficult times lie ahead. Maybe that message is unrealistic and dangerous to teenagers. Maybe it will tell young women and their families lies that will further teen pregnancy. Would Gail Collins have preferred not to have Bristol Palin on stage with the rest of her family? Would she have preferred a public condemnation of the girl?
Collins continues, “Now a single mom on the outs with the father of her baby, Bristol wants a new kind of happy ending. ‘I just want to go out there and promote abstinence and say this is the safest choice,’ she said on “Good Morning America.”
Going on national television and telling America that you made a mistake is not what I call a happy ending. But that aside, Bristol Palin is right: The safest way to avoid pregnancy is not to have sex. She isn’t lobbying for abstinence-only education; she’s reminding young women of the empirical fact that sex can result in pregnancy and that pregnancy can bring unplanned complications.
But Gail Collins agrees with Levi Johnston, Bristol’s “thuglike” ex-boyfriend, that such reminders aren’t going to work: “Because Bristol’s own philosophy seems, at minimum, tentative, it’s hard to tell whether she believes that cheerleading for abstinence should be coupled with education about birth control methods. She and Levi used condoms, except when they didn’t.”
Of course, “They used condoms, except when they didn’t” has absolutely nothing to do with Bristol Palin’s views on abstinence-only education and everything to do with how all people use condoms. Plenty of teenagers and adults thoroughly educated in safe sex have “used condoms, except for when they didn’t” with similar results. Claiming that imperfect use of birth control means support for abstinence-only education is, to put it mildly, a flawed argument.
But when a teenager goes out on this kind of mission, you have to wonder where her parents’ heads were. What does this say about Sarah Palin’s judgment?
Although we’ve sort of answered that question before.
As despicable and illogical as a column like this is, there’s a reason behind its venom: Liberal America still hates Sarah Palin not for her proposed policies, but for who she is. Ironically, of course, Palin is exactly the kind of person that liberal Americans like Gail Collins claim to care about most. They are, after all, the people who love working class families, women rising in politics, pregnant teenagers, and ordinary folks.
But when those ordinary folks hunt caribou, when their daughters date scary hicks, when their sons are Trig and Track, when their husbands don’t apologize for working an oil pipeline, when their wives fail to abort disabled babies and aren’t the right kind of working-class woman—then there’s hell to pay. Then teenage girls get savaged on the editorial page of compassionate liberalism’s most prominent newspaper.