I guess she wouldn't be a Palin if she didn't come out swinging and then double down on her combative stance.
Last week, Palin daughter Bristol made a surprise announcement on her Patheos blog, stating she is pregnant again and that "I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy." She also admitted that "Honestly, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my chin up on this one. At the end of the day there’s nothing I can’t do with God by my side, and I know I am fully capable of handling anything that is put in front of me with dignity and grace…. I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you." It was the second recent surprise announcement from the 24 year-old single mother of son Tripp, who last month suddenly called off her engagement to Dakota Meyer mere days before the planned nuptials, describing it as a "painful time."
Predictably, an uproar — much of it schadenfreude related — ensued. Gawker said that Palin's news "makes a great argument for abortion" while DailyKos pointed out her "conservative hypocrisy." And so now, with a little time to sleep on the reactions perhaps, Miss Palin is back with a few more words to say about her current state. In a post she wrote Sunday evening entitled "My Little Blessing," she casts off the role of "huge disappointment" who's just trying to keep her "chin up" -- and hits back hard at her critics. She now cryptically writes, "I made a mistake, but it’s not the mistake all these giddy a$$holes have loved to assume. This pregnancy was actually planned. Everyone knows I wanted more kids, to have a bigger family. Believing I was heading that way, I got ahead of myself. Things didn’t go as planned, but life keeps going. Life moves on." And she added, "I have never been paid as an 'abstinence spokesperson.' I was employed by the great people at The Candies Foundation…. In other words, they are a teen pregnancy prevention non-profit and I worked for them when I was 18 and 19 — when I could share first hand the challenges of being a teen mother. Here’s what I have spoken out about. Life."
Palin does have an unapologetically anti-choice history, but her flair for forgetting her advocacy for abstinence surely can't just be chalked up to pregnancy brain fog. As Radar points out, her speaker's bureau page notes "abstinence" as the first thing in her area of expertise. In one of her PSAs for the Candie's Foundation, The Situation notes, "I know you're all about that abstinence thing." In reply Palin vows not to hook up before marriage "For real for real for real. Trust me, I’m not getting myself into another situation." She has in the past called abstinence "a realistic goal."
A 24 year-old, until recently engaged-to-be-married woman with one child already is entitled to change her mind about how sexually active she wishes to be. She is entitled to decide to try to conceive before and even without getting married — optimally with the full consent of her partner. As a woman fortunate to live in a country in which reproductive choice is supposed to be a constitutional right, she is entitled to proudly declare her intention to move forward with her pregnancy. That's all fine. Her private life is hers to conduct as she sees fit. And despite compelling evidence she's determined to remain churlish about her relationship with the so-called "giddy a$$holes" who dare to question the disconnect between what she's preached and how her life has unfolded, I am still recklessly hopeful that this young woman can turn her life around and become a force of compassion and empathy. I just can't stop wanting her and those Duggar girls to break free and rise above their famously rigid, angry, nonsense-spewing families.
What Palin seems to steadfastly refuse to do, however, is own up to what exactly she thinks the "disappointment" and the "mistake" here were. What she certainly didn't do a few months ago when she was allegedly planning her pregnancy — and what she has yet to do now — is state her support for young single women who make similar choices. Instead she petulantly says on her blog that "I’ve always been pro-life and I am standing for life now. Deal with it," ignoring that she has also stood for abstinence. Does she know about Google? Does she remember going on Oprah five years ago, and having Oprah all but beg her to not back herself into the abstinence corner, and replying, "I just think it's a goal to have and I think other young women should have that goal." She seems to have forgotten Oprah asking, "You don't think you're setting yourself up?" and replying "No, I don't." I'm just saying, if Oprah had ever asked me to clarify my sexual habits, I'd remember it.
Palin has an opportunity now to make the case for growing up, for changing your mind. She could easily tell the world that it's not quite fair to hold an adult to the ideals she set as a teenaged new mother. She could talk about a culture that shames young women for being sexually active. She could do all that and she would probably get a fair of amount of support for it, even if in some minds she'll always be that pregnant Alaska high schooler. Instead she seems to be clumsily trying to distance herself from the abstinence narrative that was for years a large part of her persona -- and that is a quest that is massively doomed to fail. It's not doomed because she says this latest pregnancy was planned; it's doomed because it blatantly disavows her own track record. It's doomed the way all Palin family campaigns are, because it's so wrapped up in the notion of being a victim of the mean old liberals and the press that it shrugs off authentic, vulnerable honesty and accountability. It's doomed because it demands her critics "deal with it" while resolutely not "dealing" herself in return.