I have to say, I have been quite taken aback by the way Sarah Palin has been treated in some ways these past few days.
Almost as soon as she was introduced, there was the nasty rumor that she was never really pregnant, and was instead covering for her daughter. Aside from the fact that the story was demonstrably false, it is sad to see that people were willing to engage in such malicious rumor mongering. It is sadder still, that the Daily Kos chose to give the story such prominence when there was no proof at the time.
Then there was an incredible feeding frenzy surrounding the pregnancy of Palin’s teenage daughter. As Barack Obama rightly noted, “people’s families are off-limits, and people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics.” I feel bad for Bristol Palin that she has to go through such a trying time under the spotlight of the media glare. There is simply no reason to make Bristol Palin, who isn’t running for President, into a public spectacle.
I was also disappointed when some commentators asked how Sarah Palin was going to simultaneously run for Vice President and be a good mother. No one ever asks men how they will run for office and take care of their children. Seen in this light, it is really unfair to ask that question of Palin. It’s also sexist.
None of this is to say that the media isn’t right to ask hard questions. The media and Democrats should scrutinize her record. And no one should fear being called sexist for criticizing her record, or for exploring past statements and actions which don’t cast a positive light on Palin. There’s no shortage of things to go after. Contrary to her image as a maverick, she was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it, and she employed a lobbying firm to get federal earmarks as mayor of Wasilla.
It’s fair to ask if her views on abortion—like banning it even in cases of rape—is in the mainstream. It is fair too, to wonder if after two years as Governor of Alaska, one of our most sparsely populated states, and several years as mayor of Wasillia, she’s ready to become President at a moment’s notice. After all, the McCain campaign has said that a man who spent eight years as a state senator, and more than three as a US Senator is not ready to be President. There’s a lot we have yet to find out about Palin, and we deserve to thoroughly vet the woman who will be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
So the McCain campaign should not make her into a victim every time she gets asked a tough question. It won’t do for example, to make Joe Biden out to be a bully if he presses her in their Vice Presidential debate. However, Palin also has a right not to have her family’s privacy abused, and not to be asked questions that wouldn’t be asked of a man.
I do have to admit that I am astonished at how quickly some conservatives have become attuned to the double standards women face. Maybe John McCain will reconsider supporting the Ledbetter fair pay act, which he opposed because it might create extra litigation. But whatever McCain’s record on equal pay issues, can there be any doubt that his running mate deserves to be treated respectfully and fairly?