Saturday, September 6, 2008

Of celestial bodies and strong emotions

We interrupt our regularly scheduled inability to find words for that Big Post to bring you this post of inability to contain the rant. I have been trying since Wednesday night, and I have failed. So here comes.

One explanation I have heard time and again for the often sorry state of some of our interpersonal relationships is that while men are from Mars, women trace their ancestry from an entirely different body in the Solar System. As reasonable as that explanation seems some days, at least every two years, and certainly every four, it should become apparent to anyone with a habit of cursory perusal of print and TV news, let alone of the political blogosphere, that the gold standard for complete lack of ability to perceive another worldview as valid is the political process in our entrenched two party system. Of course, since I firmly belong to one of the parties (and have a sticker on my car to prove it), I do think that we are (mostly) right, and the other guys are (mostly) wrong. But that doesn't stop me from frequently despairing at the depth of the chasm.

This week was worse than most. I will spare you most of the really?ies that passed my lips this week as I watched Republican Party's quadrennial it wasn't us, it's all the other guy's fault routine, but as I am still bursting at the seams to address what for my money was the biggest indecency of Sarah Palin's speech, you are stuck with it. Not really-- you can always click away, but you know what I mean.

As the Dems collected a cool 10 million smackaroos in the 24 hours after the Governor's speech, many seem to have their favorite moment in the running for that title. Or maybe it's that there were so many, and of such outstanding quality, that for some it is simply too hard to choose. But for me there was never any contest. Perhaps I am cheating here, since mine isn't really a moment, but a more of a series of unfortunate events. No, I am not talking about the tone she used to deliver her speech, the tone of that one teacher in your middle or high school who was just sure that she was the best educator for miles around, and who wasn't ever going to let anyone forget it or question it, and, consequently, always spoke to the students in this most condescending of tones. Nope, not that.

In college, I spent a fair bit of time doing theater or a mix of standup and theater. So I know a lot about enunciating and projecting, a good deal about referring to current events in your script in a way that includes a punch line the audience will still be talking about when they get home, a fair bit about set design, costumes, and props, a respectable amount about sound, and even something about lighting. So I feel qualified to say that the people who worked on all these aspects of Governor's speech were, clearly, professionals. Sometimes very mean-spirited professionals, but professionals nonetheless.

And that is also why I feel that the Governor should have summoned some of her fabled moral fortitude complete with some of that unfailing politeness and used the "thanks, but no, thanks" line every time set designers, prop masters, or writers brought to her yet another way to exploit her children. Though it's not like this was new hat for the Governor-- she started the week by announcing her daughter's pregnancy in order, as the campaign said, to defend her against the big mean bloggers saying things about her last pregnancy. Right, because there is no better way to save your hide than by throwing your child out there instead.

So let me ask you, Governor. When they told you to exploit your son's imminent departure, possibly doing something illegal, and certainly ill-advised in the process, did you try telling them it didn't seem right to you?

Of course, since no reporter is allowed to subject her to the unthinkable scrutiny of, you know, asking her a question these days, I don't expect she would answer one of mine either. But I am going to pose a few more anyway.

What I really want to know is why did they bring the baby to the speech. It seems like in any time zone the shindig was way past his bedtime. I don't suppose the answer is that they couldn't find a qualified and properly vetted babysitter on such a short notice. No, I get a sinking feeling that it was so that they could show him off, to say "look, this is the baby with Down Syndrome I decided to keep" without saying it, without bringing up the unfortunate fact that in deciding to keep this baby Sarah Palin exercised the very freedom to make a choice that she would take away from the women of America.

"And children with special needs inspire a special love" Sarah Palin says, and I, predictably, bristle. Because what, my children only inspire the stale, unspecial kind of love? Actually and more importantly, Governor, can you explain to me how exactly is your love for your youngest son special? Because there was that pause in your speech, right around when you uttered this particular phrase, where the way you were triumphantly looking around, I could've sworn you were expecting your medal (for being so awesome and keeping the baby) to arrive at any moment.

And it irks me, a lot. Maybe it's because I believe that I had my children for a very selfish reason-- I thought that my life would be better if I had them, and so I went for it. Whatever happened along the way, I don't think I deserve any accolades. And I don't think Governor Palin does either. See, he is either a child to you or proof of her pro-life credentials. And if he is a child first then all of this is unseemly. IMHO, of course.

But, of course, this wasn't the extent of the little Trig's star turn as a prop. Did you see the Palin family make their way into the VIP box a speech or so before she spoke? I did, and let me tell you, I thought it was unfortunate. Not only was Bristol, Palin's pregnant 17 year old daughter carrying Trig, but suddenly the boyfriend (whose MySpace page explicitly states that he doesn't want children) was by her side, and there was rather a few empty seats around the young couple. Made for TV, anyone? Look how good we look with a baby. Aren't we just fit to be on the cover of some magazine or other?

You know what I realize? The campaign asked everyone to respect family's privacy. I realize that I would love to. As soon as the candidate herself starts to do the same.

37 comments:

CLC said...

Amen to that. I am all for women breaking the glass ceiling, but nothing about this woman sits right with me. She totally sold her daughter out, whether her daughter cares or not. Actually, she probably hasn't grasped that yet, because she's probably relishing the spotlight like many 17 year olds would, but that is another post, I guess. I was bothered by a story I read that said she flew to TX to give a speech while having contractions with her infant. But "there was no way she was going to miss the speech", so she didn't mention the contractions to anyone. And she supposedly had the baby a few hours after she arrived home from her flight. I am all for working women, but I don't know many women who would risk the life of their babies like that, especially since she knew his diagnosis ahead of time and it often comes with heart problems. It's totally foreign to me. Why would she even tell a reporter that?

Tash said...

Singing to the chorus, girlfriend. Amen. Thanks for putting it out there.

Ya Chun said...

Yep.

And I think abstinence only education works great....

I also think it' a bit absurd to brag about not terminating a down's diagnosis. I know several people who had a diagnosis (with some degree of certainty) who decided to go on with the pregnancy and have a healthy baby. Down's is not lethal Pre-E nor a congenital heart failure where the baby will die within days. Yes, some people are aborting Down's babies, but alot of pro-choice women are NOT.

Magpie said...

Yup. Well said.

Christy said...

Thank you for that!

Bon said...

sing it, sister.

even up here in Canada, i'm agog and appalled at this whole circus...and the way it's being taken up.

what i really don't get is how nobody seems to be asking her about how her daughter's pregnancy impacts her abstinence-only policy...does she really think it works? does she really think that many young girls in her daughter's situation will have the privileges and support that Bristol will have?

luna said...

I couldn't agree more. I was so disgusted by the way she used her kids as political props, then cried foul about the attention on them. (especially since the dem candidates explicitly said they were off limits.) she parades them on stage and turns her family into a circus, with a now very unfortunate young couple pressured into marriage and parenthood doomed from the start. pawns all.

Aurelia said...

I've been trying to figure out exactly why I hate her so much and maybe this it.

You see I have a lot of friends who are not in my own party and are pretty right wing, but I manage to oppose them without hating them.

But not this woman. I truly find her to be a disgusting person, and the bit about violating operational security? Ha....great potential commander in chief there. Lovely.

RM said...

And have you read how she voted against funding for teen mothers in her home state?! She certainly didn't seem to support their "morals" in "keeping" THEIR babies... she didn't think they should be supported at all. She makes my skin crawl.

loribeth said...

Yep. It bothers me that she (& the party) are playing up her motherhood for votes, yet waxing indignant if anyone asks any questions about her family. The hockey mom talk is also detracting attention away from other, more vital issues that need to be addressed.

Of course, being Canadian, I don't get a vote in all this anyway. ; ) But your choice of government does affect my country in a huge way, so I am keenly interested!

k@lakly said...

I have wrestled with commenting here, and in many other places truth be told, because I wholeheartedly disagree with much of what was written. On the other hand I am a staunch supporter both of you, as a mom and fellow blogger and of the absolute rights of any blogger to blog about whatever the heck they want to blog about, becasue, hey, it's your blog, right? And my golden rule, which I am about to break, is to never disagree or argue with someone on their blog, because, as I said, hey, it's their blog, right? That rule is also why I leave my blog to the dead baby stuff and steer clear of all things politics to avoid the crazy that any good debate can bring.
The only reason why I am going to write here is because I know you will read my points and consider them for what they say, as you have shown yourself time and again to be a thoughtful and reasoned thinker.
So here goes:
Much as I am loath to defend the pro life position, I do feel compelled to defend this mother. I have read all over the internet and elsewhere, criticisms of her choices, all of them, in parenting. I have read on some blogs the vicious gossip about who really was the mother of the baby, with many harmful words said about both her and her daughter, words that were never retracted, much less apologized for, even after the rumor was summarily disproven by readily available facts. She is being criticized for bringing the baby with her on stage for using him as a 'prop' and I am sure that had she left him backstage or home with a nanny, she would have been criticized for 'hiding' him from the public or being ashamed of him. A no win decision. On the contrary, many years ago, a certain male politician took his oath of office as a freshman senator, standing at the hospital bedside of his small child who had only days before survived a horrific car accident that killed his mother and sister. That male politician was given symapathy and accolades for his strength in a time of utter personal crisis and devastation, having just lost his wife and child and now facing single parenthood and a demanding career as a senator. That politician was Joe Biden. Had that been Sarah Palin, I bet she would have been crucified by the same bloggers who are villifying her now. The mysogyny, sexism and hypocrisy are startling.
Her choice to have a baby with downs, having been given the diagnosis at 13 weeks, is something she should be respected for. At 44, with a very well earned career well underway and 4 other older children, it could not have been an easy decision to make.
I think it must take a special kind of love to make that choice. I think what she meant was, as I have heard many of my friends with special needs children say, the love that a special needs child inspires from you is nothing comprable to what they knew with their other children, not that they don't love their children with their whole hearts only that it is an entirely different parenting experience to parent a child with special needs. To suggest that she meant anything else by those words, to me, is insulting. I know I am currently living in daily fear that my NT scan missed something and the baby I am currently carrying will have downs. It is not what I want, does anyone. Given the statistic that a full 90% of mothers when given the diagnosis choose to abort, I think I can safely say, no, it is not what most would CHOOSE. But she did. That she wants her baby with his family at important events and doesn't hide him or his diagnosis from anyone isn't something she should be judged on. Besides, if he is anything like most babies I know, time to him means nothing, he's up or he's asleep. My kids for many months thought nighttime was the righttime to play 'let's keep mommy up as long as we can' because she is so much fun when she hasn't slept in a week or two.
I am also reminded of the iconic Jackie O, who brought both children out for the public to see after the assination. Not just for a small photo opp, but for the viewing, the procession(in freezing cold weather), the ceremony, we all remember the salute by Jon Jon, which was completely orchestrated,in the sense that she told him to salute his dad, but no one ever criticised her for those choices. Mr. Obama had his children do an interview on Entertainment Tonight for gods sake, talk about parading your kids for the limelight, even he regrets that decision, but it was his to make.
I have already taken way too much space but I will ask this, if it were Hillary who had these same circumstances, would you be so critical. Honestly. Because I don't think you would be. Which brings me to my real point. All of this woman bashing on Governor Palin does nothing to advance the women's movement at all. In fact I think it only adds fuel to the already raging fire that burns ever so brightly every day. These arguments imply that a woman can only be successful if she doesn't have kids because clearly making choices for her children negatively affects her ability to do her job. These arguments only solidify the notion that a women can not do all things equally good or equally bad, as a man, because if she chooses to work and mother, she is bad, at both. Or at least, that is, if the woman is a, shhh, Republican. No one ever questioned Hillary when she chose to stay with her cheating, philandering, lying husband time and again, even after he literally threw her to the media with her 'vast right wing conspiracy' line, knowing full well if he were found out, she'd go down too. No one ever questioned her parenting skills when she taught her daughter that it was ok for any man to treat his wife like that, no one criticised her when they paraded Chelsea out holding both of their hands as they walked to the waiting helicopter to whisk them away to a private place where they could heal as a family and please, everyone, respect their privacy in this very delicate time...
I think, what we have here is a double standard for women by women. I think we all owe every woman the right to choose, for her, what works for her. I think we owe all women who are doing their best to support thier families, careers etc, all the support we can because lord knows, we get enough shit from the men, we don't need to add to the pile. If you want to crticize her politics, go right ahead, take her on and have it. Just don't demean her professional accomplishments by devaluing her motherhood. Afterall, if we are truly "prochoice" then we should be supporting all choice, not just the ones we agree with. If that were the case, then you might as well label us all pro abortionists. And really, if the story were that she found out she was carrying a downs baby at 13 weeks and chose to terminate, would you have written about her brave choice or would you be slamming her for aborting?(Obviously a difficult hypo given her pro life position but think about it). No doubt even if she were pro choice, and had chosen to abort, the critics would have been all over her and I doubt many here would have defended her. Like I said, a no win for her.
Alright, I have taken up WAY too much space and I apologize for going on. Hope it is taken in the spirit with which it was written.

P.S. More baby pics soon please:)

Karen said...

julia - very well said, indeed. If she can use them, she makes them fair game. Is that fair to her kids, is a question for her to answer, not the left, not the media, not us. She is using them as a shield to cover up her lack of qualifications & the RNC is using her as a shield, to cover up the fact that they do not have a plan that will help most Americans.
I don't really care about her parenting, excepting that it impacts her policies & excepting that she is using them to campaign and I want my guy to win.

Beruriah said...

I for one questioned why Hillary stayed - but I didn't know about blogging back then so it was just to anyone in my dorm willing to listen.

As for the "special needs...special love," statement. I'm struggling with that one. Mostly because she followed up with, "To the families of special-needs children all across this country...: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters....[I]f we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House." Trig is 4 months old. She got the diagnosis at 13 weeks. She has spent so very little time contemplating what it is to be a parent to a special-needs child. Was she an advocate before he was born? Does she really know what that means? She derided "community organizers," right? Who does she think worked to get the ADA written and passed? Why did she speak to families of special needs children and not adults with disabilities? I am not nitpicking here. Do those children not grow up? Can not many of them speak and listen for themselves, on their own or with adaptive technology?

My 6 yo nephew has spina bifida and is paralyzed below the waist. I aspire to be a disabilities advocate. I have spent 6 years figuring out what that means, how I can do it. I am still learning. Accepting his disability is the easy part-(and many people haven't even done that! They tell us they "just know" some day he will walk. Barring some incredible miracle well outside of the skills of science right now, he won't.) The hard part is, honestly and truly, figuring out where to go from there. How to make sure that as he reaches the age of reason, his self-worth and body are respected. That as he grows up he gets treated as a grown up. Mostly I mean socially, but also by us.

Just last week I had a conversation with a man in my neighborhood whose wheelchair was broken, rigged with duct tape and he told me two things. 1) The wheelchair clinic I thought was fabulous sucks; 2) It's humiliating to go in for adjustments because the techs almost unfailingly speak to him like he's 10 instead of 40; 3) That there aren't places like Shriner's for adults that will replace/fix his chair for free and we don't have govt funding to take care of it (ok, this last one I already knew, but I was just lamenting it again.) I'm thinking Palin is of the wrong political philosophy to help us there, and what with her hatred of community organizers I don't know what to do!

I am not saying she can't become an advocate, but I'm telling you if she had spent time reading blogs, had spoken with and listened to disabled adults she would have corrected her speech writer and spoken differently. To me her words confirm that so far, she's only speaking to anti-choice crowds who want us all to have our babies at whatever personal cost, but don't want to help afterwards, and that she has not (yet?) started speaking to many parents of disabled children, and hasn't even begun thinking about disabled adults.

But back to Julia's point. Is it a "special" love? It's a relationship with its particular challenges. We know that my nephew will always needs us more than our other children. We worry more about his health, about how the world will treat him, about whether he will be happy. Her statement was empty, and silly, and surrounded by enough offensiveness to taint it too.

One more thing, as for her "choice." If she's truly anti-choice, she didn't make one. There was no choice in her pregnancy with Trig. End of story.

I should acknowledge that I have been far more interested in disability bloggers' responses to Palin than the dead baby mama community, and have read all the blog posts that this post lists: http://disstud.blogspot.com/2008/09/memo-to-governor-palin.html

Beruriah said...

whoops - the link is too long for Blogger's taste.
Go to: http://disstud.blogspot.com
and then the post: "Memo to Governor Palin" from Sept 4, 2008.

sweetsalty kate said...

I can't get any further than her anti-gay marriage stance to even consider the implications of all the rest...

As to your post, I can only press my finger to the screen and watch as it sizzles.

Anonymous said...

k@laky,
I am a life long dem and liberal. I was, and remain, very critical of the way the Clintons used their daughter in photo ops after his affair was revealed. That poor child in the middle, holding each parents hand. It also struck me as the height of hypocracy considering how tenaciously they had faught for Chelsea's privacy.

Further, the idea that no criticized her parenting skills shows either a innocent or willful ignorance of the time in question. The example she was setting for Chelsea by staying was debated all over the media for months.

As far as Palin goes, I absolutely respect her right to privacy, for the family to makes it's own decisions. I only ask that Palin do the same for my family. Which, of course, she has repeated vowed not to do.

If she wants privacy for her children, it can be done. A lot of people did not realize until recently that both McCain has sons serving in Iraq. That is because he refuses to discuss it publically. He did not have his sons show up at the convention in uniform, with the camera endlessly catching their every move.

I continue to respect those children's privacy. I only wish their mother would do the same.

k@lakly said...

anon:
Obama, both children on stage speaking, Biden, all children and grandchildren, on stage laughing, waving. No one criticized either of them.
Palin, all children on stage, she gets lambasted b/c her daughter is pg. and her son has downs. Had she hidden them away, she would have been crucified by the media and hordes of others. As I said, she can't win. Your anon comment made my point well.
And no I am not ignorant of the criticism of Hillary, my point was that the criticism of her was NEVER anything like the b.s. that is being heaped on Palin under the ruse of 'political' scrutiny.

Sorry Julia...I'll stop here. This is exactly what I did not want to happen on your site.

niobe said...

I guess I'm hopelessly cynical, but I kind of expect politicians -- all politicians -- to do and say pretty much whatever it takes to try to get themselves elected.

Casey said...

Beruriah said

"Why did she speak to families of special needs children and not adults with disabilities?"

I'm so glad to see this question being asked.

kate said...

Damn, i thought i was totally over this soap opera and all, but there is a new article in the new york times, for those of you who want to choke on your coffee some more. Watch me not link it, ha ha.

All i have to say is....um, WOW. I GIVE UP.

Anne said...

I'm a democrat and strong Obama supporter, but I also realize that in any election there is total "ingroup/outgroup" phenomenon going on. That is to say, we always think "our" candidate is getting screwed while the other guy is being handled with kid gloves. We see "our" candidate as a good person with some forgivable foibles, while the other guy is evil incarnate. This is just human nature, but please, let's acknowledge it for what it is and not get our knickers all in a twist about who is getting victimized more--I'd say there's more than enough to go around. The media has both excoriated Sarah Palin for having an unwed teen daughter and called Michelle Obama a "baby mama" (and if you don't understand the connotation, just google it).

Do I think Obama is perfect? Absolutely not. But I like his policies, and his vision for our country, much more than I like McCain/Palin's vision. Do I think that Obama will be able to get every policy he discusses on the campaign trail into law? No, but I think he will take our country in the right direction more than McCain will. That is the nature of politics. Period.

Rosepetal said...

I do find it contradictory from both sides that they say "family are off limits" when family is so clearly part of the elect-me package. If they are off limits, then shouldn't they be off stage? No use criticising the media for being nasty, when you are the one who has introduced them to the media. The media is not a tame dog.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to make of Sarah Palin. However, I certainly agree that she needs to reflect on her "abistance only" stance as it has worked so well in her own household.

That being said, I also agree that she is in a "no win" situation re: bringing her children on stage at the convention. Had she not done it, she would have been questioned: "Is she ashamed of her pregnant daughter?" "Is she ashamed of her special needs son?" However, I STRONGLY DISAGREE that the daughter's underage boyfriend should have been on stage also.

I work in Special Education and am currently assigned to a PPCD classroom (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) and two FLS classrooms (Functional Lifeskills Classrooms). While I cannot pretend to read Ms. Palin's mind, I do not think she was trying to downplay the love any parent has for a child that does not present with developmental challenges. It really does take a different kind of love/understanding when you are grasping with the fact that you are not saving for college, what will your special needs children do when you are gone, why other people question "what you did" to end up with a special needs child, etc. I have seen many parents go through this process over the last nine years, and they have all said (without being asked) it is a different kind of ove/patience/set of expectations than with their other children who typically developing.

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

"Special love?" Sheesh, honey, the baby's only four months old. Get back to me when you've spent hours talking to school and program administrators, and then we can compare notes.

She's no advocate for special needs - she's only dipped a toe in the water. Okay, it's a big toe (smaller than it would be were she pro-choise), but it's still a four month old toe.

And as for that special love, bah humbug. Kids require love. Some make you think more about it, work more for it, but that's what you do with or for the love - not the quality of the love itself. I'd stick needles in the Toddles if he needed it, but he doesn't. I'd bake gluten-free for the Eldest if he needed it, but he doesn't.

Love is love. It's complex, wonderful, and occasionally the person on the other end has a couple of extra bullet points on his To Do list. But that's not love - that's parenting.

And when Sarah Palin has invested time and years in her son, then she'll understand that.

Anonymous said...

I adore you, thank you :-) You said everything, EVRYTHING my mom and I have been thinking for the past 2 weeks on this issue that no one else has put into words. Thank you for making me realize that I am not alone in my thoughts.
xoxox

Anonymous said...

AMEN. I don't like her either and the more I read about her, it just affirms the thought even more. I hate that people are calling commmentary like this sexist and saying men have never been questioned about their ability to be daddys and be in politics, blah, blah, blah. I don't dispute that but I also can't fathom the mindset of a mom who would not put that child ahead of everything else. And a mom who would pimp out her daughter's pregnancy -- I mean kids can be off limits in these kinds of races if you want them to be. I don't want to get off on a tangent here but I am still shaking my head at the reports of her supposedly flying back to Alaska with her waters broken to give birth EARLY to a special needs child. It really calls her judgement into question. Sorry to ramble here...

Christa said...

I think its funny how indignant (me included) we can get when we disagree. All of the disgust you show for Sarah Palin, I hold for Barack Obama. I often shake my head when I too realize how deep the divide is between our two viewpoints.

A few comments:

1) Had she not brought Trig to the speech you can bet that someone on TV news would have wondered aloud whether she was really proud of him and whether he was being hidden from the public eye because they are all secretly ashamed.

2) Bristol is five months pregnant and showing. When exactly should the information be annouced? If they didn't make an announcement there would be those that claim they were trying to hide it. How would you have handled it?

3) I liked that she was plain spoken and grounded. You can keep the vague, high-minded sounding speeches you get from Obama.

4) I like the fact that we have a candidate on the ticket who isn't rich. And yes I realize that McCain's wife has truckloads of money.

One last point, don't mistake support for a ticket as blind-faith and devotion. There are plenty of issues that I differ with McCain/Palin on. But you have to make the best choice from the two options. For example, while I may be pro-choice, I support limits on that right; I understand that even if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it would take State action to outlaw abortion and bottom line; I am much more concerned about a nuclear Iran, a new despot in an already nuclear North Korea, and an increasingly threatening Russia than I am about the issue of abortion.

I hope we can still be friends.

Thanks.

Christa said...

Since the political issues are of topic, can I ask a question? (nodding) Okay, you might be surprised to know that I started out as a Democrat. My first opportunity to vote was in 1992 and I voted for Clinton and then again in 1996. It is only as I've gotten older that I've become more conservative. Also, I am not a "typical" conservative (whatever that means). I am not a believer and don't attend church. I am pretty socially liberal on most topics. I continue to be generally pro-choice.

I say generally because once I had a miscarriage or two and then I started to contemplate ART, I found myself much more open to the whole "life begins at conception" notion. I am still loathe to have the government tell me what I can and can't do, but at the same rate I mourned my 6 week miscarriages all the same. What does that say about being pro-choice? So, I guess my question is has infertility and/or the loss of a child at any stage of development changed your view of abortion?

Thanks

SmartOne said...

Opinions about politics is something I can never verbalize well (other than to state LOOK HERE!!! I'M A DEMOCRAT!), so thank you, thank you, thank you for putting into so many words what I can only express as "Palin creeps me out." I tend to think a lot like Kate. I don't need to look much further than McCain/Palin's anti-gay and anti-abortion policies to know where I stand.

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

Christa,

for what it's worth, having had infertility, miscarriage and then produced a child with a genetic, chronic illness, I am still prochoice. When we considered a second child - and then actually conceived one - doctors were *very* fast to offer to do genetic testing. "So that you can terminate, should you need to," they told me.

I wouldn't choose to do genetic screening on a fetus, nor would I choose to abort an imperfect child. My imperfect boys suit me fine. But I really, really understand how harsh the choice is, how you can see your life dangling from the sharp edge of that decision. It's a hard decision to make, and my fertility issues (getting preg, staying preg) have only emphasized it for me.

I don't walk in any uterus other than mine. So, I'm not going to make a choice for your uterus. Just mine.

Anonymous said...

Christa;

MY own issues with pregnancny, etc. have made me incredibly pro-life when it comes to myself but don't feel like that is a decision I should make for other women. So, I remain solidly in the pro-choice column.

Sarah said...

THANK YOU!!! I have been stewing over this for a good many days now, and it is wonderful to read the articulate version of the "ARGHUDUHFDLKR!" that has been ringing in my head.

Julia said...

Ugh...do you guys even remember me still? Sorry, everyone, to have started this and then promptly disappeared.

I want to respond, but sleep is short around here and nights unpredictable. Which isn't a complaint per se, as much as an explanation-- I want to make sure to actually accomplish the replying (tried last night; didn't get very far), so I will try to state my points briefly, and will hope that I also do that clearly.

Kalakly, I also want to make sure to say that I have nothing whatsoever against debating things here. I know what I am in for when I bring these things up. As long as everyone stays respectful to each other, it's all good. As I said, I despair at the size of the chasm, so if we can actually debate, in the sense of listening to each other's arguments and replying with arguments of our own, I am happy to have this happen on my blog.

Now, for my arguments.

First, and very importantly, I refuse to buy the notion that a woman (or anyone else) criticizing a woman candidate automatically sets back the women's movement. Some candidates are men, some are women. Some are qualified, some are not. Some exploit their family/kids to score political points, and some don't. All three of these statements are orthogonal, i.e. where a given candidate falls on each of these axis is independent of where they fall on the others. In fact what I believe sets back the women's movement is this assumption that I believe to be incredibly sexist and that Samantha Bee (sp?) of The Daily Show did such a fine job parodying, the assumption that I have to be favorable to Gov. Palin, or at least offer her deference because she and I both have ovaries. I vote on issues, not chromosomes. The reason Hillary Clinton made history this year is that she ran on qualifications. She had policies, she had experience, she had bills to her name. Yes, there were some crazied supporters of hers who were all gung ho on the woman part. Me? I liked her health care plan better than Obama's. The reason she put those 18 million cracks into that glass ceiling (that has been shattered the world over already-- UK, Germany, Canada, India, Pakistan, and many other places, while we are still having this ridiculous debate) is because she was qualified. And what I find insulting is Sarah Palin strolling onto the scene presuming to have any claim to Hillary voters just because she has the same general layout to her reproductive organs.

(BTW, I feel compelled to point out that while I have my differences with Senator Biden, I don't think his case as far as children is even remotely comparable. He was already elected. He wanted to give up the seat to be with the boys. He was talked into staying by some big time politicians and by his sister who promised to help out with the kids. Once he started his new job, his policy was that he was to be interrupted at any point if his sons called. I would add that he came back home on the train every night, and, shockingly, he didn't charge a per diem for that [unlike the Governor, who did charge the state of Alaska for the nights she spent in her own home in Wassila]. And as far as taking that oath. It wasn't days after the accident. I looked it up, and the accident happened Dec 18th. The new Congress isn't sworn in until early January.)

Believe me, I would love to debate the Governor on issues and policies. But there is a reason the campaign has kept her in a cocoon-- when they presented her for her one and only interview today, she didn't do so hot. Seriously, I would, at minimum, expect a candidate for a position that may, at any moment, cause her to become our Commander in Chief, to know what Bush doctrine is and to be able to clearly state whether she agrees or disagrees with the same. But that's just me. Note that this criticism has nothing to do with whether or how many children she has. This is about why I think that she is unqualified.

What I was talking about in the post, though, was behavior and ethics thereof. Has nothing to do with whether she is qualified for the job. This is strictly about why I find her behavior distasteful.

I want to say, first and foremost, that I feel like some of you may have misunderstood my position. I do not, by any means, disagree with or disparage her choice to have her youngest son. I am pro choice (post coming, Christa), and that very definitely includes the choice to have the baby. I do, however, disagree with and disparage what she then has done with that story and other stories in her life.

Yes, Obama and Biden kids were on the stage. But there is a difference between kids waiving at the crowd (or even asking their daddy where he is) and using your kids to define/soften/inoculate one's image. Why did she give the date of deployment of her oldest son? Would she have done it if the date was October 16th? Probably not-- the date just doesn't have the same ring to it as September 11th, does it? It was possibly illegal, and for good reason-- it jeopardizes lives.

Why did they bring Bristol's boyfriend to the convention, and have him come up on stage? And why did they give the baby to Bristol to carry in? Why did they stagecraft her to sit with the baby and the boyfirend? Pay no attention to the fetus in the belly, think no thoughts of how it got there. By magic of Republican real-time in-TV editing, see, they are already married, they have had the child, and they are the young, happy, doting parents.

And the baby. I agree-- babies are either awake or asleep. But tell me. How did he make it through the hours of rucus that was the convention on that particular Wednesday? And what were they planning on doing if he woke up and was in a mood to scream? What if he got tired and overwhelmed? Was Todd going to take him out to the hallway to pace? And if that doesn't sound likely, let me ask yo this-- do you think there was Benadryl involved? And if you do, don't you think that's uncool? He has no way to understand what is going on or to consent to being shown off.

About that "special" comment. I see that I didn't do a good job articulating why exactly I didn't think the comment is appropriate, likely because I understood it, even on the visceral level, but didn't have the words for it. Now, thanks to some heavy thinking after Beruriah's comment, I do. I think "special love" implies babying and pity. It infantalizes the issue and the people involved. It lacks respect for these children as individuals, and does not allow them agency. It keeps them small, dependent, cute. It leaves their parents permanently in charge. The focus is on the parents as the major figures. It's the parents who will have a "friend and advocate" in the White House.

For me it's back to what our role as parents is. I maintain that when we decide to have a baby, we are doing it for selfish reasons-- we want one. But once that baby is no longer an abstract entity, once it's a person, we owe that person to treat them with care and respect. The transition is abrupt and it can make your head spin, but that's the deal.

What came to mind, when I thought some more about this, is how the adoptive parents all over the blogosphere are often (justifiably) offended by strangers and relatives alike talking about their adoption as some heroic thing, something the speaker "could never do," implying that they "saved" their children and are, thusly, entitled to a cookie, at the very least. Ask, and these adoptive parents will tell you that this attitude demeans their children, discounts their worth, assumes them to be a prop. Many of these parents will tell you that they in fact feel like their adoptive child saved them. (BTW, in the same vein, I was all about warm fuzzies for Cindy McCain based on her video until it told me that she "discovered" Bridget in the orphanage. Yes, like she is an oil field. Um, ok then...)

As I said above, I support Sarah Palin's choice to have her son 100%. What sleeved me out was her swiping many issues clean of the table by making it all about the "special love." In my mind, it's a lot more about the early intervention services that the government should provide to all babies and children who need them. And seeing as Sarah Palin seems to think our government is a problem, I don't see her using her status as the friend and advocate in the White House to fight for funding for these programs. We can add health insurance to the heap. How are the uninsured, either a family with a child with special needs, or an adult with disabilities supposed to cope without it? By talking about that special love the Governor gets to avoid talking about the need to have heath insurance for all, as in the somewhat famous blind design test (you are a baby about to be born. You don't know what family, rich or poor, you will be born into. [And, I would add, with what medical conditions.] Now design a health care/insurance system).

Ok, this is ridiculously long, and it's ridiculously late/early. I am going to go try to catch a few hours of sleep, and will address the issue of my stance on choice in the face of my IF and A's death in a post. Hopefully tomorrow.

ms. G said...

Bravo Julia!! I was going to write out a long comment of agreement, then I read your comment. You said it all so well!!



That woman gives me the creeps.

Anonymous said...

The fact that you can still write a coherent response with a new baby and another child is amazing. The fact that, so far, people are discussing different opinions with relative respect for each other (there will always be a few exceptions) will hopefuly lead to a well informed vote in November.

I do not think it was wise to mention the son's deployment date; at the same time, who knows what she is going through as a mother who is sending a son to the combat zone. She may state she supports the current policy/effort/etc., but when you are facing the possibility that one of your own children may not come back, it becomes a different story. As far as being legal? I don't know; I work with military families and many are familiar/open with deployment dates. 9/11 certainly adds publicity, but who knows, she may have mentioned the date had it been different.

Back to the baby....if children are found to require assistance, there is something called Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), a government sponsored program. This service works with kiddos from ages 0-3 who are found to have an impairment, whether it be speech/language, fine/gross motor skills, cognitive, sensory, physical, etc. While the federal law holds for all fifty states, individual states intrepret it differently. For example, in some states it is free, others have sliding scale, etc. Basically, children can qualify from birth, and depending on what services they qualify for, service providers (like OT, PT, and Speech) administer therapies/etc. in the home (or daycare) as this is where most children are at that stage. A Family Service Plan is developed as the idea is to teach parents strategies to help their children progress. At the age of three, the public schools take over with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) if the child still needs services. This is a public service, and there are also an abundance of private clinics. I realize this may open a can of worms for pros/cons of each - I just wanted to let people know that it is there. The children with Downs Syndrome that I work with have usually accessed services from birth, and most parents pay for private therapy in addition to ECI. However, as an overworked Special Education professional in a school district who has the same qualifications as my counterparts in private clinics, I agree, Julia, there needs to be more funding. While I have the same skills, I am stretched very thin (as with my caseload that seems to stay in the fifties), and my students are the ones who do not benefit.

Now, as far as legalaties......what is the age of consent in Alaska? How legal was it to have pregnant teenager up there with the baby's teenage father? I DO NOT AGREE with abistance only, but putting your own child who is in difficult position on stage not only proves the policy does not work, but it also calls legalities into question.

Nine said...

I couldn't had said it better!! Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I had an abortion at 7 weeks pregnant when I was 24 years old. When I came out of the clinic to drive home, the anti-choice protesters chanted, "Mommy, Mommy, where's your baby?" at me as I walked to my car. There was nothing pro-life about them.