“South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler sharply attacked Sarah Palin [yesterday], saying John McCain had chosen a running mate ‘whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion,’ ” Politico reports. Fowler later apologized “to anyone who finds my comment offensive.”
We’ll leave the offense to others. We find Fowler’s comment revealing and disturbing. And she is not alone in striking this theme. Here is Andrew “Beagle With a Smear” Sullivan of The Atlantic:
And then, because [John McCain] could see he was going to lose, ten days ago, he threw caution to the wind and with no vetting whatsoever, picked a woman who, by her decision to endure her own eight-month pregnancy of a Down Syndrome child in public, that he was going to reignite the culture war as a last stand against Obama.
Sullivan loses control of his syntax, but Salon’s Cintra Wilson manages to make a similar point with flawless grammar:
Sarah Palin is a bit comical, like one of those cutthroat Texas cheerleader stage moms. What her Down syndrome baby and pregnant teenage daughter unequivocally prove, however, is that her most beloved child is the antiabortion platform that ensures her own political ambitions with the conservative right.
This is worse than tasteless or even unhinged. It is depraved. It represents an inversion of any reasonable conception of right and wrong, including liberal conceptions.
Fowler uses Palin’s motherhood to disparage her accomplishments, an obvious betrayal of the principle of women’s equality. And although proponents of permissive abortion laws nearly always claim to support not abortion but “a woman’s right to choose,” here we have three of them rebuking Palin for choosing not to abort her baby.
Sullivan and Wilson go further, ascribing evil intent to an act of maternal love. To Sullivan, Palin’s decision to carry her child to term is a salvo in a “culture war”–that is, an act of aggression against those with different political views. (That, at least, is how he sees it for the purpose of this post. In an earlier one, he praised her for going through “eight months of pregnancy and a painful, difficult, endless labor for a cause she believes in”–which, although considerably less obnoxious, still depicts the decision as a political rather than a personal one.)
To Wilson, Palin’s adherence to her own principles about the sanctity of life is an act of neglect toward her children–proof “that her most beloved child is the antiabortion platform.” Never mind that the alternative would have ensured that one of her actual children did not live.
Both Sullivan and Wilson make a point of highlighting Trig Palin’s handicap. Indeed, both his more recent post and her article refer to Trig only by his handicap. If this were all you had heard about him, you’d think his name was Down Syndrome Child Palin.
In their defense, one might note that Sarah Palin, too, is using Trig as a symbol. But there is a world of difference between humanizing a political candidate and dehumanizing a 4-month-old baby.
None of this can be explained in terms of political calculation. Scorning a woman for declining to abort a disabled child is likely to be about as persuasive to voters as burning an American flag. These ugly sentiments have to be sincere. In a way, that makes them even more disquieting.
Filed under: 2008 Elections, Abortion, Attacks on Palin, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain, Media Bias, Politics, Sara Palin, Sarah Palin, Wall Street Journal Tagged: | Barack Obama, Best of the Web, Joe Biden, John McCain, Palin Attacks, Politics, Sara Palin, Wall Street Journal