I have been sitting here trying to tease out all of the conflicting feelings I have about the frenzy over the pregnancy of Governor Palin’s daughter.
It reminded me of an op-ed piece I wrote for the LA Times early in the Bush administration urging that the Bush daughters be allowed to grow up and screw up with a minimum of media scrutiny. Having done my share of screwing-up, I guess I have alwasy felt a special kinship with young people who find themselves needing need some slack rather than condemnation.
My opinion about their Dad as President is still the same (another topic for another time) but I have learned over the years that, as a Dad, I have a real weak spot for kids thrown into the lion’s pit because of the actions of their parents.
Believe me. I am well aware of all the well-reasoned arguments about how a candidate’s personal life can and does reveal fundamental characteristics that might be relevant to how they will perform in the public sphere.
But I still can’t get past the fact that underneath all the debate, all the political combat, is a pregnant teen trying to make sense of her life and her future.
I’m still ambivalent, but I want to share a very thoughtful, compassionate and well-written piece by Bob Steele, who writes about journalism ethics for the Poynter Institue.
It comes as close as anything I have read to getting a handle on why the focus on Bristol Palin has me so confused. We do need all the information we can get to make reasoned political choices. We need to know when someone’s public positions might be at odds with the way they live their own life.
But a 17 year-old girl also has a right to make mistakes and learn and grow. Some of you may feel less inclined to empathy. I understand. I also hold very strong political views. And they happen not to include support for her mother’s candidacy or political views. But I also agree with Bob Steele when he writes:
“Bristol Palin is Sarah Palin’s daughter. But she is also, in some ways, our daughter, too.”