Palin’s children should take priority over being Vice President

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Okay. Look. I wasn’t going to tell you what I think of Sarah Palin, but so many people are asking, so fine. Here it is. She is nuts. And the Republicans are nuts for putting her on a ticket. She has a five-month-old kid with Down’s Syndrome.

Why is no one writing about this? I have a special needs kid. I have two. Here’s what happens when you have a special needs kid. You are in shock. You love the kid. I loved my first one so much that even though there was something like an 80% chance of having another kid with autism, I had a second kid.

And guess what? The second kid had a different disability than the first. Amazing. Statistically phenomenal, really. But my point here is that I’m very qualified to tell you what it’s like to be a breadwinner mom of a five-month-old special needs kid. And, it’s not just from my perspective. I am a magnet for breadwinner moms. They constantly write to me. And when I write about this topic—being the breadwinner and having a special needs kid—women come out of the woodwork. They all say exactly what I’m telling you now: it’s insane. It’s insanely hard.

Here’s what’s insanely hard. You go through a mourning period. Don’t tell me about love and how everyone is different. Because everyone is the same about their kids: They love their kids no matter what, and they didn’t plan on having a special needs kid, no matter what. So you need adjusting time.

And here’s more I know from both statistics and first-hand experience: It’s nearly impossible to keep a marriage together with a special needs kid. And it’s nearly impossible to keep a marriage together when the husband quits his job to take care of the kids (which Palin’s husband just did). And Sarah needs her marriage to stay together pretty badly right now.

And who will take care of the newest member of the family? Certainly not the 17-year-old daughter who is pregnant with the newest kid. So the dad now has three teens at home and soon two kids under one year old at home and one has special needs. This is not a reasonable job. For anyone.

I know that I’m going to be reminded me that I have a nanny, a house manager, and a cleaning woman (who actually shows up every day). But I also have a job that allows me to leave at 2:30. It’s a compromise for me. Because every parent in the world has had to compromise, and it’s fair to judge public figures on the choices they make.

It’s really hard to know where to compromise. Here’s what I was doing when my kid was five months old: I was at home. Hating it. Telling myself that I was not cut out to be at home. I was sort of a columnist and sort of a mom and sort of a psychopath. Because having a five-month-old with special needs is very very hard. Not just learning to take care of the baby, but mentally coping.

Why is no one talking about this? The Republicans should dump Palin. She’s got too much responsibility at home.

Don’t tell me that this is not fair to women. Because you know what? People should have railed against John Edwards running for President when he had two young kids at home and a wife fighting cancer. Fine if she wants him to run for office while she fights the cancer. I get it. But I don’t get how the President of the United States was going to have time to console two school age kids about their mom’s death while leading the country. It’s irresponsible.

I know it’s not cool to tell people how to parent. I know it’s not cool because every day someone asks me how I run my company when I have two young kids and what they are really saying is “you suck as a parent.” It’s hard to hear every day, so I have empathy for the idea that everyone should shut up about how other people parent.

But it’s absurd how extreme these presidential-wanna-be cases are. I don’t want someone in the White House who has kids at home who desperately need them. I don’t want to watch that scenario unfold on national TV. So at some point, it must be okay to speak up. At some point we have to say that we have standards for parenting and we want the community to uphold them.

278 replies
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  1. Amy Vachon
    Amy Vachon says:

    I have to say I completely agree with you (this time :-)). When her supporters cry foul because her critics call this sexism, I want to scream that this issue is about the fact that she is a parent of 5 children who need loads of parenting – not about the fact that she is a mother.

    By accepting the VP nomination, Governor Palin is abdicating involved parenthood. Just as any other candidate – male or female – would be doing by accepting this all-consuming job (including the other candidates, who at least seem to have partners to take up the slack, or grown children, or fewer children, or children not currently in crisis). Unless her marriage is so rock solid that it beats all odds, and unless her husband is absolutely thrilled by the idea of hard-core SAHD duties, this is going to be a painful unraveling. Not something I want to watch in the VP (and potentially President) of our country.

  2. Ms. Pixel
    Ms. Pixel says:

    It’s so helpful to hear about your perspective on this issue. You bring up some great points. I agree with you on John Edwards’ home situation. The community at large needs to come to an agreement on parental standards that apply to both men and women. And maybe we should consider the fact that some of us can’t have it all.

  3. Liam
    Liam says:

    To start, yes, Mrs. Palin has five children. However, one is on his way to Iraq (good for him). That brings her down to four. One is about to get married and will be a legal adult in a few months. That brings her down to three. Three children and a very capable, loving, and devoted husband. If there were a male candidate in a similar situation, with three children and a loving and devoted wife, we would be asking the question; “Is she going to have enough time to spend on her kids?” How many single parents are there in America today with three or more children? I’m willing to bet there are quite a few. They manage to raise their children while holding jobs and running their household. Now, Mr. Palin will be faced with the task of raising three kids while getting little support from his wife…timewise. Oh, lets not forget that they really won’t have to worry about money. I’m also pretty sure the White House comes without mortgage payments. He won’t have to cook, clean, etc. I’m pretty sure he will be up to the task.

    Trying to use her kids against her in this way is an injustice to her and her husband. In my humble opinion, I think America is not comfortable with the idea of a Mr. Mom in the White House.

  4. Mich
    Mich says:

    Uhm, here’s a shocker, folks. The kid has a dad, too. I know, I know, it’s soooo passe for a family to have two parents, but it just happens to be so in this case. And here’s another thing: It’s ok for the wife to be the breadwinner these days! OMFG, What a concept!

    So, perhaps you folks should consider minding your own business and stop the bitter, divorced, career oriented whining. Seriously, you’re embarrassing yourselves.

  5. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Is anyone going to point out the fact that Sarah Palin is for “abstinence-only” teachings in the schools and refused to fund the normal teachings of sex-education? Pardon me, but obviously with her 17-year old daughter being pregnant – she’s not very good at uniting “policies” and “tackling the tough issues” at home.

    I am 23 years old – working mother of 2 young children. It is hard. I do believe that your family living should be up for discussion because it is a part of your character and your morales – which is an important factor when deciding in a candidate.

    I am unimpressed by the tactics that their party is using in this election. Rudy Giuliani’s speech was dripping in racism and ignorance. I want to point out that I am a young white woman – independent voter. I have a hard time voting Republican after being able to count on one hand the minorities at the convention. If their party REALLY is about change and uniting our country…then where is the rest of the American folks who don’t happen to be caucasian? That is a red flag…

    Sarah Palin will not be able to handle the grilling from the media because her speech was not her own words. Good job, McCain for doing your research on this one.

    I agree with you 100%, Penelope. This topic SHOULD be up for discussion. And it is NOT sexist to question her family life and family ethics.

    On a side note, John McCain has admitted that he does NOT know how to use a computer. As a young voter, I believe whoever is President of our country needs to get with the times.

  6. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Women have to work so hard to break the glass ceiling. We hear that we won’t do as good a job because of our children, we hear that our children suffer because we work. These sentiments are sexist because men are never told that being parents makes them less able, or that their children will suffer because of their jobs.
    I’m convinced that your objections to Mrs. Palin are partisan. Otherwise, if you really had the courage of your convictions, you’d quit your job to be a mother to your children. And advocate that all women do the same.
    I am really disgusted to hear Obama supporters use Mrs. Palin’s children as a reason she shouldn’t be in office. No one says that Mr. Obama’s daughters will suffer irreparably if he is President, and thus he shouldn’t be running for office. Speak honestly about the issues you have with her. That’s ok. But having a family should not disqualify anyone, man or woman, from holding office. And I have no time for people who believe that it should.
    I am so angry & disappointed, I’m cancelling my feed reader’s subscription to your site.

  7. Candace
    Candace says:

    It’s women like you that will continue to hold women back!!! No wonder we get lower pay in the same job as men! No wonder we can never receive the same respect as men do. There are plenty of parents with special needs children who send their kids to special care schools. It is not irresponsible of them, in fact scientifically proven that the schools are good for them. This baby will have special care from his parents, brother and sisters. As he grows, he will be treated as other normal children because the world is a better place. So stop bringing the women back to the Ice Age – should our rights to vote be taken away too and stay home and cook, clean and nurture the kids? Gosh, I hate women like you who shame a successful woman like me.

  8. Bobby
    Bobby says:

    I am a parent(dad) of a young little boy with Down syndrome that is 6. My wife and I also have a 9 yr old girl and another boy that is 7.

    My wife is a full-time parent and I work from home 3 days a week so that I can be there to help.
    Trust me, it’s a monumental task for the two of us even.

    Our children are our lives and we both know that the moment we became parents, our roles and tasks in life changed. This became even more evident with the birth of our littlest and his very special needs.

    Parent first.

  9. C.L. Everett
    C.L. Everett says:

    Personally, I don’t have kids but my experience with downs syndrome people has been beautiful. I think they are simply extraordinarily loving, which to me seems like evolutionary progress for the species.

  10. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Thank you!

    I completely agree with what you have posted on your blog. I don’t have children (not God’s plan for me), but it irritates me beyond words for those who have been blessed with children to treat them with such disregard. My best friend has two special needs children both under seven years old now, and her sole purpose in life is to get through each day with both. I hear her pleas for sanity yet know she wouldn’t give up her role for the lottery jackpot.

    Palin’s selfish pursuits are going to damage her family beyond what she can probably imagine. It is irresponsible to think that she could lead this nation when she is quick to push her family’s needs off onto her husband and/or the public so easily.

  11. JB
    JB says:

    Penelope, so when are you going to bite bullet and find a man to take care of you so you can raise your kids?

    By your logic, Palin is a bad parent by not spending what you see as enough time or effort on raising her kids. The same can be said about you.

  12. editormum
    editormum says:

    How can you suggest that just because Sarah Palin has young children at home, she should not accept this opportunity? Would you say the same if her husband had been named as McCain’s running mate and Sarah was just gonna be the devoted little housewife/mom keeping home together for him?

    Pardon me, your double standard is showing.

    If it’s wrong for Palin to run, why isn’t it wrong for Obama? He has young kids, too. And he also has a devoted spouse in the wings. Only their family just happens to fit the traditional mold: Daddy earns the living while Mommy makes the home. So, just because the Palins have turned this upside-down, she’s vilified and the Republicans are idiots to choose her? WHY?

    Feminists have been telling us for decades that we CAN have it all. That the fact of our womanhood and motherhood should not detract from evaluation of our career ability. They’ve been telling men that they should take a more active role in child-rearing and home-keeping. But when a gutsy woman and her equally gutsy husband decide to actually live out what the feminists have been telling us we should do, suddenly she’s a horrible mother and he’s a wimpy guy?

    You cannot have it both ways.

    And the special-needs status of their child doesn’t really matter. First off, the VP makes more than $220K per year. So they can afford more and better household help than you can. Nanny, tutor, housekeeper, manager, private physicians, personal assistants … they are going to have plenty of help in managing the family.

    Furthermore, the VP lives in the 9100 sq. ft., fully-staffed VP’s residence (aka the Admiral’s House), and earns more than $220K /year. Housing and staff is not really going to be an issue for them. In fact, Palin might find that she has more, and higher quality time, to spend with her children, simply because so many things will not be required of her at home.

    So here is a woman who has been able to land a really high-powered job, who has the support of her husband and (mostly grown) family, and who has the financial means to ensure that her family will not be neglected while she performs her duties, yet all of the so-called women’s-rights advocates are lambasting her because she has a new baby with Down’s Syndrome. What happened to women having power, having choice, having equal opportunity?

    I’m sickened by the whole, disgusting brouhaha. WE women have been standing behind our talented men for centuries. Now it’s our turn to shine a little, and I think that’s grand.

    So I say, GO PALIN! Show the world what a determined, well-educated, respectable woman can do. And GO MR. PALIN! You show the world what a supportive man can do to help his talented wife achieve great things.

  13. Cait
    Cait says:

    Parenting a Speial Needs child is hard work. How is anyone in the federal government going to know what we need if we don’t stop whining about how hard it is and get off our buts and go join them. Do you realize the asset special needs will get with a special needs parent so close to the White House? Do you think we would have heard so much about global warming if it wasn’t Al Gore’s pet cause!!!

  14. Jeremiah
    Jeremiah says:

    No doubt we can appreciate that you and palin have a unique struggle with abnormal children and that that hurdle is a high one.

    It still remains that you are fantastically ridiculous (yes, I’m entertained and will continue to read about gen y nonsense and your failed personal life. many thanks). i do suspect that you’d be offering a different tune if palin was a liberal. she would then be strong or whathaveyou. Why aren’t you at home? gen y and the careerists of the world need your help more? gen y doesn’t have real problems yet. according to you, your children do.

  15. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    As a breadwinner Mom of a son with downs with a loving husband at home managing that entie front, I have to disagree Penelope. Your story and situation is unfortunate, yes, but not everyone has the same experience. I’m sure there are many other variables involved in the dissolution of your marriage and the stress and strain you were under than just your income vs. your husband’s, your children’s health status, or your career aspirations. I think your points are valid, sure, but not universal.

    I loathe Sarah Palin for her disregard to the environment, her horrifying take on energy and international relations, and her apparent desire to bully and pick fights – very OLLLLDDD tactics for someone who is supposed to bring reform and change to the arena. How she chooses to live her life or parent her children is none of my business. I may have an opinion on the matter, but I don’t think she should be called to task for any decision regarding her private life. I don’t care if her marriage is strained. I didn’t have to submit to a parenting/morality/marriage strength test when I accepted my position – why should she?? If her marriage falls apart, that’s her problem. If another kid gets knocked up for whatever reason, that’s her problem, too. I don’t think these topics should be “off the table” for discussion, but I don’t think anyone is in a position to say definitively one way or another that a professional woman who happens to be married and have children – with or without special needs – “ought” to do this that or the other. She’s not setting out to marry or parent this country; she’s setting out to (supposedly) lead it.

  16. Charles
    Charles says:

    "She is nuts. And the Republicans are nuts for putting her on a ticket. She has a five-month-old kid with Down’s Syndrome."

    I agree. As governor she already has a load of responsibility. It is obvious that she does put her career above her family, but that is her business.

    "Because every parent in the world has had to compromise, and it’s fair to judge public figures on the choices they make."

    I agree 100% with you on this and everything you said in this post and I don’t do that often.

    Cyber hugs for you and the hard work you do.

  17. sara o.
    sara o. says:

    oh sarah palin… abstinence education sure does work, huh! I love how people of her mindset pay no attention to the actual, physical, observable results of the lifestyle they endorse.


  18. Dave Atkins
    Dave Atkins says:

    This was a great choice for McCain because it gave him instant celebrity status. Now everyone is talking about Palin. Instead of talking about how great Obama is or what’s wrong with the country, everyone is making Palin relevent. The substance is irrelevent; controversy sells. And if it starts to look like she could actually hurt him, she can heroically withdraw in October earning sympathy votes.
    Her choices are not necessarily selfish. She has an opportunity of a lifetime and perhaps her whole family decided this was best for the country…just like sending a kid to Iraq. Opportunities to change the world like this are tempting and rare. Who’s to say passing up on it might not be a cop out. When it’s your turn…when the call to service comes…you find a way to make it work andto hell with what other people think.

  19. Latch
    Latch says:

    Everett – is the inability to live independently also an evolutionary improvement? Down syndrome is a disability – not a some super power. The life span of people living with down syndrome is significantly reduced and dementia often occurs in their forties. While any parent of a special needs kid can tell you it is incredibly rewarding, that does not make it a positive.

  20. david rees
    david rees says:

    Wow Penelope, just wow.

    I get that you lean waaaay to the left, but I have always respected your intelligence and I admire the fact that you promote introspection and self knowledge.

    But here is a fact: by your own admission, you are at best “non standard” and at worst, highly dysfunctional.

    Your partisanship pimp-slapped your principles and ideals to the point that you make a laughable argument about what is best for someone you do not know and do not understand.

    Sarah Palin is virtually incomprehensible to an East Coast Democrat. Just admit it.

    Hey, I don’t get Chuck Schumer or Hillary or any any of the Kennedy clan. Not in my DNA, not in my culture, not in my values. I think you people that like them are… all kinds of things.

    The difference here is that I at least understand the cultural and ideological gap. I understand WHY I don’t “get it” and I don’t pretend it is a matter of intelligence or education when I know it is all about world view, values and ideology.

    Pretending you give a rats ass about her kids or her family or her marriage is disingenuous to the core. Shame on you and shame on everyone else who is afraid to just stand up and say “I strongly disagree with this womans values and ideology and I think her ideas are bad for the country”

    That would be honest and a little courageous, not fake and gag inducing like it is when you pretend to give even the slightest damn.

    I am so proud to see what Sarah is doing. She is a Republican and like most Alaskans, she has a strong libertarian streak and a low tolerance for political BS. As a former citizen of Wasilla (I went to the same church and schools as Sarah) I cannot wait to see what she will do next.

    I feel this way because I have a high degree of alignment with her life experience and her values – is she good or bad for the country? Depends on your values – to me she is good, to you she is bad – but have the decency to be real about it.

    And another thing – few things are more ridiculous than Easterners whining about drilling in ANWR. It’s a frozen wasteland. The part they want to drill is like a postage stamp on a football field and support for drilling is almost universal among Alaskan citizens. Really, the nerve of some of you (commenters).

    Now I am off to see if I can’t find some religion and guns to go cling to.

  21. Sidney
    Sidney says:

    Oh please David, most Alaskans want to exploit the natural resources because they care more about the paychecks the state gives them instead of the environment. Alaska is just one big earmark state and their so-called “individualism” is about as big a B.S. myth as the “individualism of farmers (sorry Penelope) who get huge Federal subsisidy payouts.

    This is great branding Penelope…nice controversial post that should generate web traffic. Especially since an Alsaka blog rocketed to Top 20,000 status on Alexa just because of Sarah Palin.

    Having said that, I believe that people should be able to make whatever reasonable choice they feel their family can handle. Her extremist views are more a bother for most people than whether or not she can handle the jobs of VP and Mother. And Todd (as well as the teenage Dad) need to step up to the plate. If Hillary can run for office so can Sarah Palin.

    Finally, I will agree on one point…regardless of whether or not she can juggle this role, her decision to subject her family to this mess, especially the teenage daughter; shows as much about the dark side of her decision making as the choice of Sarah Palin as VP showed the dark side of John McCain’s decsion making.

  22. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    I agree with your conclusion, that the Republican VP candidate choice is risky (at best), but not for the same reasons listed.

    I don’t think autism and down syndrome are fairly comparable. They are not quite the same. Downs syndrome babies, (children, even adults,) are notoriously easygoing. I’m not bothered by a five month old baby, who will be almost a year old by the time they office, and who has a ton of family to help care for him.

    Palin’s family situation is not like Penelope Trunk’s, and not as tragic as John Edwards’ either. Cancer is a lot harsher than Downs syndrome. Palin has a lot of factors in her favor.

    The reason I think Palin’s risky – is because she has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, from Idaho, compared to Obama’s law degree from Harvard. Sorry, but that’s my prejudice. I think anyone can get into her college, but his graduate school record is amazing, and at an amazing institution. He’s a lot smarter, that’s all. Maybe it’s “book learning,” but that counts. I think she’s clearly an … amateur.

    While I’m thrilled to see Gen Y folks finally get into the political scene, and pleased to see a woman in her 40s “making it” in her chosen profession, and can even laugh at the “passing of the torch” and marvel at the changes in society, bottom line is I’m terrified now – she might actually become president. Wow. Talk about bad sucession planing. McCain is clearly the idiot.

    At least Hillary Clinton had international diplomatic experience, had been intimately involved in the country’s politics … for decades, and I believed she could assemble a good working team of respectable and powerful policy makers. (It matters, for instance, who is secretary of state.)

    Happy as I would be to have dinner with Palin, or McCain even, I wouldn’t trust them. I don’t think either are wise enough to make good decisions, for all our people, nor inspired to lead this country, basically to spend our millions on projects that help rather than creating wars.

    Then again, I didn’t trust Bush either, either one, nor Reagan, and I have always felt Al Gore won, in 2000. I still Bill Clinton won not from experience, but with an excellent education, and talent, combined.

    It’s bound to be an interesting couple of months!

  23. Sidney
    Sidney says:

    Good point about the experience Yvette. We have already seen the last 8 years how poorly an incurious mind does at running the Country.

    I believe people finally want someone with some intelligence as President. Comparing John McCain’s lackluster military education performance (what was he, 891 out of 895?) and Ms. Palin’s 5 colleges in 6 years with Obama’s Harvard degree and law professorship (and Biden’s top notch education ending with a J.D.) is like comparing a 5 year old getting S’s in Kindergarten with a High School A.P. student.

  24. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    Hip Hip Hooray. Thanks for stating what I think is obvious. IMHO, Palin accepting the nomination as VP candidate is one more example of her willingness to sacrifice women’s right to choose. She had a choice to say NO to the very tantalizing invitation to run as VP, and she passed up on that choice – because she didn’t feel as though she had a choice. I hope we end up with someone in leadership who supports all of our rights to make many choices. Regardless of gender, regardless of the choice.

    * * * * * *

    I love this comment. Thanks, Kathleen. Your point is eloquent and sharp and I wish I had said it this way.


  25. MissPinkKate
    MissPinkKate says:

    Instead of judging other women, why don’t you quit work, stay home and spend 100% of your time parenting your children? I’m guessing because you’ve found that you can make it work without being there every second of every day. And, shocker of shockers, I bet Sarah Palin came to the same conclusion.

  26. funkright
    funkright says:

    bigoted comment alert “And it’s nearly impossible to keep a marriage together when the husband quits his job to take care of the kids (which Palin’s husband just did)…”

    so it’s fine for the wife to stay at home, but not the husband?

    and the elitist comparison of Obama’s education record vs McCain/Palin?? my gosh, look @ the relative real life experiences both bring.. McCain almost gave his life for the USA and you dismiss him because he didn’t finish at the top of his class?

    Heck, I like Obama allot, but you need to have some realistic benchmarks and weigh all pertinent facts.. The USA is so divisive, it’s either one way or the other.. You don’t value what you truly have.

  27. The Opinionator
    The Opinionator says:


    Perhaps we should ask the same question of you.

    Do you really think you should be running a company with two young special needs children? I don’t want someone running a company who has kids at home who desperately need them.

    “The Republicans should dump Palin. She’s got too much responsibility at home.”

    Spoken by an Obama supporter who saw the speech last night.

  28. Woman
    Woman says:

    You may higher maintenance than Mrs. Palin. She is raising her family with her partner of 20+ years. For whatever reasons, you have not found a partner for that duration. I think this is an apples to oranges comparison.

  29. The Opinionator
    The Opinionator says:


    Re; “regardless of whether or not she can juggle this role, her decision to subject her family to this mess, especially the teenage daughter; shows as much about the dark side of her decision making as the choice of Sarah Palin as VP showed the dark side of John McCain’s decsion making.”

    Perhaps Governor Palin should have said turned down the opportunity and let Bristol live with the guilt that she cost her mother the opportunity of a lifetime, eh?

  30. The Opinionator
    The Opinionator says:


    Re; “Bill Clinton won not from experience, but with an excellent education, and talent, combined.”

    As a native Arkansan, I can tell you that Bill had a good education and talent. But he also had 12 years as Governor of Arkansas. And he was a pretty darn good one. That experience had a lot to do with him being elected.

    Speaking to education, Lincoln did his “figures” on a shovel with charcoal. The lack of an Ivy League degree did not hold him back in the slightest.

  31. The Opinionator
    The Opinionator says:


    The Naval Academy is a notoriously hard school where everyone is essentially pursuing an engineering curriculum. But does McCain’s college performance matter all these years later? Does Biden finishing near the bottom of his law school class (76 out of 84 I belive) really matter?

    In any event, how does this matter? Governor Palin has been successful at every stop on the way. And she has managed to raise a family as well. Penelope is certainly entitled to her opinion. But it is amazing to me that feminism was supposed to give women choices and opportunties. I guess they mean that women should make certain choices.

  32. Joy
    Joy says:

    What a bummer….. I have bought your book and read every blog and stood in line to speak with you at a conference.

    No matter what your political views are, you really need to give back your mom card and your woman card! Is it 1950 and you have forgotten that women can do anything a man can do and better?

    Obama is running for president and has two small children. And Michelle is very involved in the campaign. Grandma is raising those kids. Is that wrong too????

    Come on…. Really…. I am honestly disappointed.

    The woman has been in politics for years and it is wrong for you to compare her to you in any way. I am sure she weighed the pros and cons and made a choice. Although the youngest children may not have a hands on mother for a while, I am sure there are a wealth of family members working to help those children. Those children will be exposed to things that no other child in America could experience, a strong mother in the White House. What an example of drive, dedication and strength. Those children are lucky.

  33. Arlene
    Arlene says:


    This looks mad to me, too.

    Has anyone noticed that as soon as poor Bristol’s pregnancy was announced, the baby was handed off to the next daughter in line? These girls ARE the child-care back-up plan, at (I suspect) a severe cost to their own lives. They look even less animated and happy than politicians’ children usually look.

    Mr. Mom is bearing up with good grace so far, but it can’t be easy.

  34. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    Well Penelope,

    So real mean-spirited stuff to have to read, must be hard. You sound full of life and energy, but sometimes it’s hard to practice what you may be advocating.

  35. Carl
    Carl says:

    Personally, I think this VP decision was quite sexist…against men. A man that had the “credentials” she had would have been deemed inadequate. Guess it pays to be female. McCain picked her because he knows most Republicans cant stand him, yet the women he was targeting with his pick would have voted Republican anyway.

  36. Jim
    Jim says:

    Nancy Pelosi has 5 children, she has been in Congress for 21 years. Did anyone question her parenting skills?

    How about Biden who had to raise 2 boys as a single father? He wanted to quit and raise his boys, he was encouraged not to.

    How do we know Palin’s Husband isn’t already helping out in taking care of the kids?

    I think it is a lot to project our biases onto other people.

    As far as her daughter getting pregnant, no one is perfect, and no one claims to be. But it is how we adapt, adopt, and handle the crisis that reveals a person’s character. I don’t see why her daughter should be criticized for taking responsibility for her mistake.

  37. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    On the other hand if Sarah can juggle the kids and her career then just maybe the religious right (James Dobson of Focus on the Family) will finally get off their high horses about women working outside the home being bad for raising kids. I heard Dobson on a radio show go on and on for over 20 minutes about how bad that is for the kids and now he thinks Sarah is the perfect for VP. So now he gets it. Good for him.

  38. Joel
    Joel says:

    Yeah sing it! Tell us more about the piece of crap Palin is as a mother while you spend your time writing about waxing your hoo-hoo. Your family life is a disaster. Your opinion of soemone else’s parenting doesn’t count.

    The ridiculous comments from YOU on this subject are vile.

    Now go back to twittering about oral sex — your kids are at home being raised by your soon to be ex.

  39. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    McCain has like ten kids. How many does Obama have? I don’t even know. No one questions the man’s ability to do a job based on the number of children he has.

  40. Rachel - I Hate HR
    Rachel - I Hate HR says:

    I don’t think anyone with young kids should run for the presidency or vice presidency. There’s no avoiding using their own children as political pawns. They may say they’re trying to keep them out of the spotlight but in every speech or major announcement there is the family to “show support.” Yes, being the president or vp is the opportunity of a lifetime but I could never put my career that far ahead of my family and I don’t even have kids.

  41. Benjamin Strong
    Benjamin Strong says:


    I am so glad you addressed this topic. As the father of a 5 year old son with Down syndrome I have some strong opinions about Ms. Palin's nomination to the Vice Presidency. My wife and I have also have two other boys ages 3 and 7 months.

    I don't want to politicize the issue but I do want to comment on raising a family with special needs. Certainly Penelope knows the joys, triumphs, and frustration. It isn't easy and I can't imagine how challenging it must be as a single parent.

    Managing our son's challenges is a full time job; negotiating with health insurance companies, attending meetings at the school, and advocating for our son so that he can share the same experiences as his typical brothers. It is hard work and not without its share of arguments and frustration. My wife and I make it work.

    Penelope's thesis has merit. Perhaps Ms. Palin's focus should be on her family. The reality, however, is that she may very likely be our next Vice President. There is no turning back for the Palin family. More than likely her husband will have to assume the duties of "homemaker" and Penelope has already cited the pitfalls of that type of situation.

    I think Cait is onto something when she compares the special needs situation and the global warming issue raised by Vice President Gore. Ms. Palin stated unequivocally that parents of children with special needs will have an advocate in Washington. I believe her. I believe we should take advantage of her willingness to advocate and champion the needs of our most fragile population; our special needs population.

    I wish the Palin's the very best. I hope her family is strong enough to survive the campaign, teen pregnancy, the issues surrounding Down syndrome, the education system of Washington, DC, and having a stay at home father.

    One challenge to a comment. Yvette believes children and adults with Down syndrome are easygoing. One of the myths about Down syndrome is that people who have it are happy easy going people. People with Down syndrome have the same range of emotions as the rest of us. They feel sorrow, pain, anger, love, and happiness the same way you or I do. Take it from a father of a 5 year old; sometimes our son with Down syndrome is more stubborn than our other children. I would encourage everyone to visit the National Down Syndrome Society website ( for facts about Down syndrome or join a Buddy Walk to help raise money and awareness about Down syndrome.

    I applaud Penelope for taking a stand. She speaks from the heart, with conviction and the experience of a mother of children with greater needs than others.

  42. John
    John says:

    > Okay. Look. I wasn’t going to tell you what I
    > think of Sarah Palin, but so many people are
    > asking…

    Yeah, I’ll bet. Everyone wants to know what PT Trunk thinks.

  43. rainie
    rainie says:

    I can’t get behind you on this one, Penelope. I don’t like her but I don’t think she needs a less demanding job because of her kids.

  44. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    Brazen careerist??? This blog needs a new title. How about Brazen Hypocrite? Perhaps you should re-read your post of Sept 21, 2006 where you declared a goal of being less judgmental. Or did someone else write that post for you?

    You mention that you stayed at home when your kid was 5 months old. “Hating it. Telling myself that I was not cut out to be at home.”

    Sarah Palin is not cut out to be at home, either.

    Did it ever occur to you, Penelope, that Sarah Palin is a more capable woman than yourself? She’s already handled these issues while being Governor.

    As others have commented before – women like you are detrimental to those of us that have careers. Sadly, this blog no longer serves anyone but your own self-absorbed self.

  45. Glad Doggett
    Glad Doggett says:

    Why are we all pretending it’s acceptable for two 17 year old kids to marry? Does anyone else see this as tragic?

    Marriage is hard enough for adults. Why would a mother encourage/endorse the marriage of her young daughter to a boy who is just as unprepared?

    This irresponsible and disgusting.

  46. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Thanks for writing this Penelope. I think the issue of Palin and her kids has been “the elephant in the room” that no one will talk about.

    As a mother of two kids, one <1 year old, neither so far appear to be special needs, I can’t imagine agreeing to take on those levels of responsibilities.

    Irrespective of whatever else she has done or hasn’t that makes her qualified or not, I have to question her character at agreeing to take this on. She could end up abandoning her kids. (And, I always questioned John Edwards’ character for the same reasons Penelope mentioned).

    My only mitigating thought is that she expects her ticket to lose, so this will be a couple months in the spotlight and then she’ll go back to small town Alaska, maybe join the speakers circuit for $40,000 a night. The latter would mean a good income and time with the kids.

    My other conspiracy-oriented thought is that she has agreed only to be on the ticket, not necessarily to serve if elected. With a complex family life, it would be believable for her to say she can no longer fulfill the role and step down about 6 months into the term, allowing McCain and the republicans to select someone McCain knows better and wants to work with.

  47. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I would add that a pregnant 17 year old is also a special needs child. I hate the hypocrisy of the “family first” party not doing so–and it doesn’t matter to me if it’s the man or the woman.

    Also, campaigning is a bit more than the average 40 hour a week job. She’s going to be totally absent for quite some time.

  48. AESP
    AESP says:

    If you are going to take a crack at Palin, there is plenty of fodder from her speech alone. Why bring her family into it at all? This wouldn’t be an issue if some politician’s wife quit her job to help out with the children so why are you making it an issue? I think you are full of crap. I’ll be even more specific: I’m a democrat and an Obama supporter and I think you are full of crap. As a matter of fact, I am betting you just wrote that blog about Palin to be inflammatory and to get people to respond to it – well, I consider myself duped for the last time. I’m done reading your blog for good. Hope you get a clue someday.

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