Speculating on celebrity baby “bumps” is Hollywood blood sport. Ashlee, Nicole, the much-maligned Jamie Lynn Spears — all were outed by the press before they could even register for Diaper Genies. (A moment of silence for Lisa Marie Presley, who appeared on the cover of a tabloid looking like Wilfred Brimley in a muumuu and subsequently admitted to carrying twins.) Now, thanks to Sarah Palin’s impregnated teenage daughter, Bristol, trashy baby fever has come to the nation’s capital — a place where, until recently, sex had its proper place: under Oval Office desks and in airport-bathroom stalls. But suddenly, babies have become a campaign-trail tool, like George W. Bush’s cowboy act or Bill Clinton’s saxophone. Will it work?
I hope not — it’s a pretty thin MO for someone with as much diplomatic experience as, I don’t know, me. In searching for a vice-president, John McCain sought someone with no knowledge of Iraq, social views befitting a Victorian mixer, and a vagina. I can just picture the crusty Arizona senator sending his minions scampering to find a nice lady politician, someone those pesky women voters could get enthusiastic about after all that Hillary Clinton hullabaloo. If this election is going to be about change, the blustering ex-POW can play with the best of them. “Hey, Obama, you might be black — but I’ve got a girl on my team! And from Alaska, too!” Who cares if she’s a lightweight with as much foreign-policy expertise as Tom Arnold? McCain needed a strident hockey mom as the antidote to Hillary Clinton’s power pantsuits and Obama’s rousing rhetoric. Can you really blame the old geezer?
Too bad Bristol’s fickle fallopian tubes are likely to be her mother’s undoing. You don’t get to campaign as a family-values, pro-woman candidate who also opposes abortion and sex education — because those stances do more for unplanned pregnancy than cheap wine and Barry White. And you can’t exactly sing the praises of abstinence education when your own 17-year-old daughter is a waddling testament to its impotence.
Palin’s handlers would have you believe that she’s just itching to become a grandma. Her office released this statement, which would throw a diabetic into convulsions: “Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby, and even prouder to become grandparents.”
Now those wily Republicans are trying to spin the pregnancy as a boon to the campaign. South Carolina governor Mark Sanford insists that “people are looking for real,” as reported in the New York Times. “Real means blemishes, real means warts, real means real. These family imperfections make people say, ‘That family isn’t so different from my family.’ ” Warts? Blemishes? We’re talking about a 17-year-old pregnant girl here, not McCain’s most recent skin-cancer scare. The GOP spin is transparent: if you criticize Palin and her brood, you must be the one who isn’t progressive. (Not original, either. Remember how, if you criticized George W. Bush, you were also a budding member of Al Qaeda and burned flags in your spare time?)