Backing off Palin daughter best path for media

By Kevin Wilson

The teams are complete for the presidential election battle. The fight is between Barack Obama and John McCain, and the undercard is between Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

I could write about the glass ceiling that may be shattered. I could talk about the expanded roles small states like Alaska and Hawaii, Obama’s birthplace, are playing in our political process this November.

Instead, I’m just going to write the same thing I did last year, because I’m afraid the biggest story about Sarah Palin may be unrelated to what kind of vice president she’d be.

Only three days after Sarah Palin was chosen, the family revealed that Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, is pregnant and is marrying the father.

Much has been said already on this development, including arguments linking Bristol Palin’s pregnancy to Sarah Palin’s support of abstinence-only sex education.

“Maybe one more abstinence-only supporting politician will realize the limits of such an approach,” Daily Kos fonder Markos Moulitsas blogged Monday. “Teens will do what they will do. It’s obvious Bristol would’ve been better served with a discussion about safe sex. Instead, she’s now facing a shotgun wedding to the baby’s father.”

It’s one thing when such speculation is pushed by bloggers, who are essentially private citizens with Web sites. It’s quite another if media conglomerates — companies entrusted to uphold the First Amendment by informing us of issues that will affect our everyday lives — follow that same path.

Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is a debate for the Palin family, which deserves the privacy to handle matters however it sees fit.

It’s a debate for everybody who steps into the voting booth, as they weigh that issue against every other issue. Voters are free to decide how important Sarah Palin’s kids are in the election, but I hope any such issue would be deemphasized in comparison to their 2009 tax bills or America’s future role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is not a debate for Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. It’s not a debate for Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes.

I argued on Aug. 8, 2007, against the idiocy of the news media overemphasizing Caroline Giuliani’s support of Barack Obama and the underage drinking of President Bush’s daughters. I wrote:

“We’ve discovered kids of politicians disagree with their parents and drink when they’re underage — just like other kids. Now imagine if those reports were instead dedicated to detailing how Democratic candidates will pay for expanded health care, or how Republicans who support the Iraq war respond to intelligence reports that it’s only made terrorist organizations stronger.

“We’d probably make better choices every November and have better people in Washington. Even a 17-year-old knows that.”

It’s 13 months later, and the argument hasn’t changed. I hope we have.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: