Sunday, September 07, 2008

Single-Issue Candidacy

I've been reading all the coverage about McCain's choice of Palin as his running mate, and it's amazing how no one really has anything to say about her - either in defense or opposition - except pages and pages about her pro-life, anti-abortion beliefs. The Weekly Standard and the National Review sees this as a reason to elect her (because in right-wing world, apparently being anti-abortion is the most important thing in choosing someone to effectively run the world...), while left-wing publications such as The New Republic and The Nation view it as a reason not to vote for her. Mind you, The New Republic has a good article (by Michelle Collette) about why Palin's feminism is not a good idea.

What's most interesting is the coverage about Palin's daughter, Bristol's pregnancy. The Weekly Standard editorial this week discusses the pregnancy, and derides "the liberal media" for misinterpreting conservative viewpoints, for pointing out how accepting the right has been. William Kristol (who wrote the editorial), says the liberal media doesn't understand how conservatives can approve of the situation. Sure, Bristol Palin didn't have an abortion, but it's amazing how conservatives aren't picking up on the sex-outside-of-marriage aspect of the situation. Personally, I don't think it's any of our business (Obama's commendable position, but I'm going to talk about it anyway...), but as Leon Wieseltier writes in his New Republic column ("Against Integrity", TNR, September 24gh 2008), there is a good deal of hypocricy in the approval of the conservative factions of American politics: "I was unaware of the tender feelings of conservatives for sex outside of marriage."

"The fecundity of Bristol Palin is a windfall for Jesus, but the fecundity of black girls is doom of the republic," he writes, pointing to the conservative complaint about soaring teen-pregnancy being one of the reasons America is going to hell in a handbasket.

One of the main, stand-out issues involved here, though is about choice. Conservatives praise both Bristol's choice to have the baby, and also Sarah Palin's choice to carry her down-syndrome baby to term. Ok, but if Governor Palin were to get her way, it would be impossible for any pregnant woman - young, middle aged, old, victim of sexual violence - to actually have a choice. They would lose all ability to decide for themselves whether or not to carry their pregnancies to term. Social conservatives want to take away any element of choice. It still amazes me how they want to do this when the Palins actually highlight the success of pro-choice being the law: they prove that people can choose not to have abortions. Gary Younge talks about this in The Nation ("Sarah Palin's Shotgun Politics", p.10): "The fact is, Bristol can make the decision to keep the baby only because, in legal terms at least, she had a choice. A choice, as it happens, that her mother wants to criminalize... The woman who would like us to keep her daughter's pregnancy a private matter is running for office so that she can make the pregnancies of other people's daughters an affair of the state."

Imagine what would have happened if Bristol has (legally) decided to abort the baby...? Would her parents have stuck by her and supported her decision as strongly as they support the one she has made?

Of course, the GOP slashes all funding for anything the child might need after it's born, but I suppose it's more important that unwanted babies are born into unloving families than keeping wanted babies (and these unwanted babies) cared for and properly provided for in the form of child care, healthcare (congratulations, President George "I'm Pro-Life" Bush, on slashing SCHIP!) and so forth.

Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about abortion, now. It's not a good issue on which to choose a president/vice-president. Apparently, McCain's top two choices for the VP slot (Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge) were rejected by the GOP elders because they were actually pro-choice.

Then again, maybe it is a good indicator: Clinton was very good, he's pro-choice. George W. Bush is anti-choice, and he's been... well, not so good. Something to look into, I think.

So, let's all move on to what really matters - healthcare, energy, environment, defense, the deficit and retirement. These issues matter. Sadly, though, they're not very interesting and spittle won't really fly during any discussions about them. Watch as media coverage of the election continues to focus on issues that don't really matter.

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