Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Palin's, Like, Other Problem, You Know?

The Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald articulates her difficulty with Gov. Palin's syntax -- and the right's happy tolerance:
I know, it’s elitist to expect a candidate for president or vice president to speak like an adult. Sure, there are parents out there battling the “like” epidemic who might not appreciate having someone in the White House validating their 15-year-olds’ speech habits. But, hey: “Total role reversal here.” (Palin, of course, can sound adolescent even when she uses the right verbs, as when she disingenuously denied her snarky put-down of Joe Biden’s age while lauding herself as “you know, . . . the new energy, the new face, the new ideas.”) It’s even more elitist to expect a vice president to put together sentences that cohere into a minimally logical progression of thought. There was a time, however, when conservatives upheld adult standards—such as clarity of speech and thought—without apology, even in the face of the relentless downward pull of adolescent culture. But now, when a vice-presidential candidate talks like a teenager, mugs like an American Idol contestant, and traffics in syntactical dead-ends and non sequiturs, we are supposed to find her charming and authentic.
Apparently, the multigenerational Bush family war on the English language has inured many on the right to proper speech.

Mac Donald also addresses the central point I raised in "The GOP's Palin Problem -- and Mine":
Conservatives will also have a hard time backpedaling from the hypocrisy they displayed regarding Palin’s family situation. Pundits and talk radio hosts rushed to explain why the pregnancy of Governor Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, was a wonderful thing. Answer: because the baby would not be aborted. But every born baby of a teen parent has not been aborted, by definition. While from a pro-life perspective, the decision to carry any child to term is laudable, the celebration of Bristol's decision became difficult to distinguish from a celebration of teen motherhood itself. In the past, conservatives have not flinched from pointing out the social and economic costs of teen pregnancy; taking up that theme again, after the happy family-values face put on Bristol’s imminent motherhood, is going to be awkward, to say the least.

And to further underscore Heather's point, Bristol's baby daddy Levi gave an interview this week where he revealed that, yes, he still plans to marry Bristol, but, well, he's dropping out of high school to take a job as an apprentice electrician. Now, if that doesn't perfectly summarize the "problem" with teen pregnancy -- along with the baby comes along things such as interruptions in education.

Forgive me for being old school, but you'd think that somebody could explain to this young man that it might be smarter to at least stick around to get the high school diploma before getting the apprenticeship.

But, hey, like Heather Mac Donald, I'm just one of those Northeast elitists.

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