"My kids have the same story as every other kid in this world," – Sarah Palin, in a grueling interview with Glenn Beck.
Beck, to his credit, actually asks why Palin has pushed her children so aggressively into the public spotlight:
"My kids are left alone. I mean, but I just don't, I don't ever, ever put them in front of a camera. You know, anybody takes a picture of my kids, I go all TSA on them."
Palin offers the following defense:
Yeah, here's the deal. Here's the deal, what we got ourselves into, I guess, was there on the national stage, literally there at the GOP convention when I, being so proud of my family, bringing them on stage like every other politician has done since the beginning of time, being charged then with exploiting my kids and here I'm looking around going, wait, every other candidate, every male candidate brings their family on stage, proverbially and literally. So having done that. And then from there just sort of a different standard that's been applied in terms of the accusations that there's been exploitation or using the kids for whatever. Then, Glenn, having to correct the record and try to change the narrative into what the truth is about my family. So constantly being on defense and having to sort of counterattack the things that they say. That's the position that we're in.
Where to start? Her first decision was agreeing to run for vice-president with a months' old child with Down Syndrome and a pregnant teenage daughter. You do that, your kids will be at least somewhat in the public eye. But she blindsides the campaign with the teen pregnancy, puts out her own press release about it the Saturday before the convention, and in the same chaotic weekend, the campaign also has to deal with the bizarre details of her one-month public pregnancy and bi-continental, airplane labor with Trig. Anyone one who genuinely cared about the privacy of her kids would have either said no or been extremely careful to release the information as soberly as possible.
And what happens thereafter? She pushes her daughter into a public spotlight, subsequently making her an abstinence advocate, and supporting her appearance on a reality show. She engages in a public family spat with the father of her grandson, Tripp. And she parades a special needs infant in front of the press, dangles him half-naked in front of book tour crowds, uses him constantly as a rhetorical campaign prop, and cites him at almost every speech to appeal to pro-life voters. She also uses her son, Track, to appeal to veterans and the military. She brings her children with her throughout her now two-year campaign for national office, disturbing their schooling and rendering them vulnerable to further inquiry from the tabloids, even as they strike deal with tabloids for their own stories.
To be disgusted by this spectacle is emphatically not a double standard.
What Palin has done with her young children is unprecedented. Think of how Obama strictly protects his daughters, and how George W. Bush did the same. Yes, Romney and McCain involve their offspring in politics – but Meghan McCain is a critic of the GOP, and Romney's kids stuck to Mormon gee-whiz isn't Daddy great stuff. None of them actively enlisted their kids in reality show television.
What Palin has done is use her children, having failed to actually rear them. She is still doing it on her reality show. That she has gone so far as to use and thereby abuse a child with Down Syndrome whose interests are clearly in seclusion, careful nurturing and care, and constant parental attention, tells you a huge amount. So does this:
Her young son, Trig, was to have an operation — routine but still worrisome — on the Friday before [mid-term] Election Day, and so the mother was loath to commit to anything. Trig’s procedure went well. That evening, Palin’s political adviser, Andrew Davis, pulled an all-nighter arranging for her to make a Saturday drop-in on behalf of John Raese, the West Virginia senatorial candidate who was trailing the Democratic nominee, Joe Manchin, the popular governor. Raese’s wife, Elizabeth, had issued a personal plea to Palin to save the day.
Yes, she left her two-year-old with Down Syndrome after a "worrisome" operation to campaign half the world away the next day, to save a far right candidate who lost. But she didn't leave Trig behind on a late-night stop in her red-state tour to promote her last book.
(Photo: Politician and conservative activist Sarah Palin holds her son Trig Palin as she attends a rally for the Tea Party Express national tour October 22, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The tour, part of an initiative to get conservatives elected to the House and Senate, will move across country and conclude on November 1, 2010 in Concord, New Hampshire the day before the contentious mid-term elections. By Joshua Lott/Getty Images.)