Monday, September 8, 2008
After John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential candidate and claimed to have known in advance that her 17-year old daughter Bristol was pregnant, I was having coffee with a Downtown Eastside friend and said, “What would Dr. Laura think?”. What Dr. Laura thinks matters, as the millions of daily listeners to this conservative talk show host’s radio show are the voters McCain is attempting to attract with Palin.
I knew the Palin pick would leave Dr. Laura Schlessinger in a dilemma. On one hand, Dr. Laura would share ‘Sarah barracuda’s’ absolutist anti-choice position on abortion. On the other hand, Dr. Laura would disapprove of Governor Palin holding down a job outside the home while she had a pre-school child. And Dr. Laura would disapprove of the fact that Palin’s 17-year old daughter, Bristol Palin, is pregnant.
Last night I got my first hint of Dr. Laura’s disapproval. I had turned on CFUN radio to wait for Coast to Coast to come on. Dr. Laura was talking to a caller who had said she had come home early and found her daughter’s boyfriend in the closet. The woman didn’t want to alienate her daughter who had previously run away but had now graduated high school and started College. Dr. Laura suggested the woman invite the boyfriend over for dinner, tell him that she hoped he had a genuine interest in the wellbeing of her daughter and was not simply interested in having “access to her genitals.” Dr. Laura said that the mother’s best bet was to “lay it all out” to the boyfriend, that it was either that “or he could get hugs from presidential candidates”.
Hugs from Presidential candidates? That was obviously a dig at McCain. I had seen a photo in the Vancouver Sun of McCain giving the pregnant teenager, Bristol Palin, a hug. Her 18 yr. old boyfriend, Levi Johnston, was standing with them and he, according to the article, got “a firm handshake” from McCain.
That prompted me to go to Dr. Laura’s website to see what was up. Dr. Laura is “extremely disappointed” in the Palin pick because, just as I expected, she considers her a poor role model. “Children and young adults look to those who are visible and successful as a road map of what is acceptable behavior and emulate those actions over the morals and values their parents and churches have taught and tried to reinforce. for juggling an infant and a job and have a pregnant teenager to boot.” See what I mean by Dr. Laura having the audience that Palin is positioned to reach: “morals and values their …churches have taught”.
Dr. Laura, who promotes devotion to family, God, and country, managed to work all three into a criticism of the pictures taken of the Palin family during campaign photo-ops. These photos have “haunted” Dr. Laura, particularly the one with the pregnant teenage daughter holding the Sarah Palin’s infant. “When Mom and Dad both work full-time (no matter how many folks get involved with the children), it becomes a somewhat chaotic situation. Certainly, if a child becomes ill and is rushed to the hospital, and you’re on the hotline with both Israel and Iran as nuclear tempers are flaring, where’s your attention going to be? Where should your attention be? Well, once you put your hand on the Bible and make that oath, your attention has to be with the government of the United States of America.”
Dr. Laura asked the sort of question that Rudy Guiliani, during his convention speech, insisted should not be asked of Palin as such questions would never be asked of a man. Dr. Laura’s question: “But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?” While Palin did go back to work as Governor of Alaska three days after the birth, the Financial Post provided a slightly more balanced picture when interviewing Palin on August 14th and noting that she had a playpen for the baby beside her desk. Her seven year old, while the reporter was present, was also in the office and the two older daughters were in and out.
Dr. Laura abhors the fact that in her role as governor, Palin supported day care. In April of 2008, Palin proclaimed: “Family Child Care Week” and wrote: “These professionals are positive role models for the children they care for and the communities they serve.” Dr. Laura believes that “hired help” is a poor substitute for the role modelling of a parent.
It is on the abortion issue that Dr. Laura sees herself and the Palins on the same page: “I am positively moved that neither Sarah nor her daughter were willing to terminate the lives of their unborn children.”
I was surprised though to see no acknowledgment of the fact that Palin’s 20 yr old son, Track Palin, will deploy to Iraq on September 11th. On her show, Dr. Laura praises U.S. soldiers with the same passion as she vilifies pro-choicers.
In the end, Dr. Laura’s criticisms may not cost the McCain-Palin ticket many votes from her loyal radio listeners. They, like Dr. Laura, have nowhere else to go. Dr. Laura writes, “I will still vote for Senator McCain, because I am very concerned about having a fundamental leftist, especially one who is a marvelous orator, as President.”