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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yes, it matters

A few more thoughts on the Palin family circus:

* The Republicans’ key talking point since it was revealed that their vice presidential candidate has a pregnant and unwed 17-year-old daughter has been that the situation is a private family matter and none of the public’s business – kind of like the cop telling onlookers at a crime scene to “move along” because “there’s nothing to see here.” Sorry, but with all due respect to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Karl Rove and the rest of the right-wing blabbermouths, the public will decide what is and what isn’t the public’s business. If people are interested in Bristol Palin’s pregnancy to the point where they’re talking about it and it could affect their votes, then it most certainly is a valid news story deserving of attention. (And, besides, any elected official or candidate for office will tell you that privacy is the first casualty of entering public life.)

* Sarah Palin is a card-carrying member of the pro-abstinence/anti-sex education crowd, a group that believes sex should not be taught in the schools – because it will result in promiscuity among teens – and that the only thing parents should tell their children about sex is to not have any until getting married. Just two problems with that line of thinking: The lack of sex education in schools means teens also don’t learn about birth control, and telling young people to abstain from sex is like putting a cookie in a child's hand and telling him not to eat it. Don’t believe me? Just ask Sarah Palin.

* Since my last post on this subject, the thing that’s bothered me the most about the Palin mess is that it’s starting to look like an attempted cover-up. GOP presidential candidate John McCain has said he learned about the teenager’s pregnancy before he introduced the Alaska governor as his running mate. Yet at no point between midday Friday, when the V.P. announcement was made, and Monday afternoon, when news of the pregnancy broke, did McCain or Palin volunteer the information to the public. That means there must have been an agreement between them to stay mum about the pregnancy and hope no one found about it before Election Day. That, by definition, is an attempted cover-up, and it suggests – to me, at least – that a McCain-Palin White House would be as secretive and untrustworthy as the current Bush-Cheney administration.

Palin is to be formally nominated and deliver her acceptance speech on Wednesday. Common sense, as I suggested on Monday, dictates McCain should show her the door before then and go with a vice presidential candidate who won't embarrass the GOP ticket.



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