Sarah Palin, Sex & the Republicans

by Jeff Siegel

This post is not about Sarah Palin’s daughter getting pregnant — her unwed, 17-year-old daughter. That’s the family’s business, and I’m not here to judge.

What I am here to do is to sound the hypocrisy siren as loud as possible — as in, I'm getting damn tired of Republicans using sex as part of their family values campaign. Or, as former Senator George McGovern told the American Conservative in 2006, discussing his 1980 election defeat to Republican Jim Abdnor:

“It ticked me off, and it was also kind of laughable. A group called American Family Index rated us. I came out with a zero, Jim Abdnor got a perfect score. Here I am a guy who has been married to the same woman for 37 [now 64] years with five children and ten grandchildren and I’m running against Jim Abdnor, a 58-year-old bachelor who gets a 100 percent rating. I’m not against 58-year-old bachelors, not for one minute, but they’re hardly a symbol of what promotes the American family.”

That election was the first in which the Republicans clubbed voters with the family values cudgel, which means that they get to tell everyone how to live their lives without paying the least bit of attention themselves to the rules they impose on others.

• Ronald Reagan, who was divorced, estranged from his daughter, wasn't especially religious, and whose son was living with a woman he wasn't married to, criticized the federal government for wrecking the family.

• Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who has been married three times, is a featured speaker at the Family Research Council's third annual Values Voter Summit.

• James Dobson, the fundamentalist who runs Focus on the Family, believes that, "According to God's plan, sexual intimacy is the exclusive prerogative of husband and wife within the context of marriage." Yet when Gov. Palin (R-AK) announced that her daughter was five months pregnant, Dobson said "The media are already trying to spin this as evidence Gov. Palin is a 'hypocrite,' but all it really means is that she and her family are human."

To be clear: it really doesn't matter how Republicans behave at home; it isn't any of our business to poke into their private lives, including their sex lives. But why can't they extend that same courtesy to the rest of us and stop dictating what they say are their morals and standards?

Of course, if Palin was a Democrat and all this news turned up about her and her family, she would be labeled as a Godless, atheistic Bolshevik. And who said this was going to be a dull campaign?

For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:
(The photo of Republican running mates Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain campaigning in Pennsylvania last month is by buddhakiwi via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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