Language Games

Essays and reviews by Dan Conley

Dan Conley

Dan Conley
Chicago, Illinois,
September 23
Cross-posting from two different blogs that I host, a movie and book review site and an essay site, where I am working through all 107 Montaigne essays by writing 107 essays of my own.


Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 29, 2008 2:08PM

McCain's Choice, Palin's Choice

Rate: 9 Flag

RETRACTION NOTICE:  I hereby retract the ideas expressed in this post, but will keep it up because I think the argument is important to have.

Why am I backing away? Because the end of my argument is that John McCain should have shown better judgment in taking a woman who has clearly bitten off more than she can chew.

I think I can argue effectively for this position, especially given the way she's presented herself as an object lesson, but the bottom line is that I was asking John McCain to validate the glass ceiling.  And even if Palin is, in fact, disqualified by her family life, the glass ceiling simply cannot be sustained in American life.  It's up to Palin to decide what she can or cannot handle, even if she made her personal choices and workload a political issue.  

So, I give credit to McCain for looking past the risks of her personal life and choosing Palin.  I still think it was a terrible selection, but I'll stick to other arguments from here on out. 


I'm going to say right up front that this post is going to be very blunt and very controversial.  I grew up with a little brother who had special needs, in his case autism.  And when my wife was pregnant last year, we're a little older than the insurance companies would like, so we had to hear about all the risks of Down Syndrome and the various tests involved.

We chose not to have the screening test, in part because the decision wouldn't have brought us to a different decision.  Fortunately, we had two healthy boys.

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, last year was pregnant and decided to have the screening test done.  It came back positive, she publicized that result and her decision to have her boy Trig anyway.  Good for her.  If she felt up to the task of raising a Down child and running the State of Alaska, more power to her.

Now she's running for Vice President?  Trig is four months old.  Downs kids need lots of love from their parents.  So I ask you, Gov. Palin, did you choose to bring Trig into this world to love and nurture him or to have a political football in our culture wars?

Because now we have a GOP VP selection who will be dividing her time between Trig, the State of Alaska, campaigning around the country and learning foreign policy on the fly.  

I'm deeply offended by this pick.  And it demonstrates clearly that John McCain lacks the necessary judgment to be our President. 

POSTSCRIPT ... to the question of whether any of this is fair ... whether being a Democrat means letting people making their own personal choices ... Palin is the one who made this an issue.  She didn't need to make her test results public.  She didn't need to turn her personal decision into a trumpet call for the right to life of Downs children.

The central argument of whether it's ethical to bring a Downs child onto this planet is whether the parents are prepared to care for that child and attend to his or her special needs.  Apparently Gov. Palin adjusted just fine to being governor and raising Trig and that's terrific.

But I don't think it's reasonable to assume that adding a Presidential campaign to the mix is even remotely similar.  And it isn't just that Palin has to campaign, she has to take a crash course in subject matters she knows nothing about.

Again, I don't blame her for this.  Everyone has a right to their own ambitions and perhaps Gov. Palin is just biting off more than she can chew.  That's fine.  But Sen. McCain is supposed to be seasoned and smart enough to exclude a person who is clearly over her head and unable to meet her commitments.

Gov. Palin made this an issue and likely will continue to point to her own nobility.  That makes this issue fair game.  But even more important, John McCain was once again reactive -- frighteningly so -- and a 73 year old candidate should be much more careful when selecting someone to be a heartbeat away. 



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Stellaa, she's the one who made this a public issue by taking her test results public and giving speeches about her nobility in bringing a Downs child into the world. That child has now become our business and a mother or father who would make such a big moral issue out of life who would then abandon the child for the 24/7 grind of a Presidential campaign is, to me, the worst kind of hypocrite.
And let me make it clear -- I'm not so much offended by Palin's choice, I'm offended by McCain's choice. He's chose to pluck a completely unready person -- 18 months as governor of the smallest state in America (population wise) -- who already bears a heavy personal load, and will have her learn foreign policy on the fly, campaign around the country, keep doing her day job and take care of a four month old Downs kid. You can forget about those Obama not ready arguments now ... McCain's out of his damn mind.
>>Would you be offended by a male who had a Down syndrome child for accepting a VP slot?

Given the exact same circumstances, yes, I would. If you're going to make a political issue about bringing that child into the world, then you should be held accountable for how well you raise that child, father or mother. Call me a sexist all you want, I have twins, we both work, I put in just as much time with the boys as my wife. I turned down campaign jobs over the past year because I thought it would be too much to raise small children and work 18 hour days. I have a right to criticize someone with a child three thousand miles away from the U.S. mainland running for VP and running a state because she's made her superhuman parenting skills an issue.