Monday, September 01, 2008

How the Palins’ Pregnancy Issue Could Hurt Obama

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 9/2/08

The pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter will in time be a plus to her campaign. People get pregnant. Welcome to the world. She and her husband Todd do what any family which has its dinner together would do; counsel, love and encourage. This is a family which takes life as it comes and deals with it. Obama and Michelle understand because like Todd and Sarah they are family first as well (and ideology second or in family matters, not at all).

In fact, this could hurt Obama and he knows it. Recently, on a PBS series called The Sixties, Todd Gitlin, a professor at Columbia, recalled the state of the nation in the mid-1970s when bitterness and anger replaced objectivity and purpose in the anti-war movement. He made the lucid point that a few individuals who went to extreme positions created a slingshot effect and consolidated the vast middle of America in opposition, engendering a conservative backlash.

This might be called the “Merle Haggard Effect”; regular folk for or against the war watching a pandemic of pointless violence against Pope John Paul, John Lennon and Presidents Ford and Reagan find a healthy response in wanting to return to the simple faith and solid heartland values of Muskogee. A return to folk like the Palins.

We have begun to see some of the same bitterness and anger reflected today in the blogs. It is entirely heartless and unconscionable when directed at a 17-year-old child who is rushed suddenly into adulthood. Anyone who has watched the Obama family can plainly see that they are not like that and they would have responded to the child’s plight with love and compassion just as the Palins have. Nevertheless, Obama could be touched by this unfortunate and immature behavior coming from his supporters. If he is marred by it - as George McGovern’s candidacy was marred by extremists – he could suffer the same fate as McGovern.

Regarding the pregnancy of Palin’s daughter Obama had it exactly right. “This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president,” he said.

Nevertheless, the liberal blogs today; their anguish and venom amplified by the press, could be Obama's biggest handicap.