Who thought that John McCain and the Republican ticket would be the ones to open the Pandora’s box of issues and questions about Motherhood that are always brewing in an ongoing stew? With the choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, he has brought the kettle to a high boil.
Scratch the surface of a committed feminist, and you may very well find a mother lion like Michelle Obama, who has said that the first and last thing on her mind every day is “her girls.”
Conversely, beneath the veneer of a pro-family, pro-life stance is Sarah Palin’s profile. It has been reported that she went back to work three days after giving birth. Why is that praiseworthy? The assertion that she can nurture a four-month old infant with special needs and guide her 17-year old daughter through the travails of an unplanned pregnancy — while potentially wearing the Vice-Presidential hat, impresses me with her stamina…but that’s about it.
Why am I getting so worked up about somebody else’s business? Well, part of it is the fact that she is the proverbial “heartbeat away from the presidency.” If the White House is captured by John McCain, a 72-year old man with a history of cancer, I think that is something to worry about.
On a visceral level, as a single Mother, I resent the Republican appropriation of the “family values” brand. I feel more connected with a man, Joe Biden, who questioned whether he should take his seat in the U.S. Senate after his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash. Believing the needs of his two surviving young sons required his full attention, it was only after other members of the Senate convinced him to be sworn in, that did he so. As his son Beau Biden told the Democratic delegates at last week’s convention, “He was sworn in, in the hospital, at my bedside. As a single parent, he decided to be there to put us to bed, to be there when we woke from a bad dream, to make us breakfast, so he traveled to and from Washington, four hours a day.” For me, Biden comes across as representing the best paradigm of a parenting model.
Palin has been portrayed as a moose-shooting, NRA advocate, and hockey mom who was captain of the high school basketball team and holder of beauty queen titles. She espouses a political agenda that certainly doesn’t jive with mine (from the support of Creationism in the schools to her stand against abortion — even in the event of rape or incest).
Her decision to accept John McCain’s offer of the Vice-Presidency, competing with and potentially precluding her commitments to her children, are at odds with my sensibilities as well. Jacqueline Kennedy once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” I would have been more impressed with Palin if she had put aside the call to the political big-time, to focus on her current job as Governor and as nurturer of her family.