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.

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278 replies
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  1. Meredith M.
    Meredith M. says:

    Penelope,
    I see that you’ve gotten a lot of negative responses to your post. I just want to say that I admire and respect your honesty on this one. You’re not preaching, you’re not moralizing — it seems to come from a place of total understanding and empathy with you. You’ve been in her shoes and have a unique perspective. And on a political note…Palin and the republican base have no right to lambast others for questioning their family choices when their entire legislating platform is based on doing the same. You’re absolutely right – it’s fair for us to take into account the needs and time commitment required by a special needs child, a 17 yr old who is a child herself and about to have a baby, and three other kids, even if one of them will be in Iraq. It’s fair because Palin has a very real possibility of becoming President (McCain will be 72 if he takes office and has had cancer 3 times!!!)…and if Palin becomes President, she owes it to her country to make that her #1 priority/responsibility, not her baby with Down’s. And yet at the same time, I can’t help but wonder what it says about someone who is so quick to put the needs of her family second….the Vice Presidency and the Presidency is not a 9-5 job. There is no work-life balance. Yes, there’s money, nannies, etc. They are always on, always on call.

    Many people will say that this is unfair, that we would never say these things if Palin was a man, and he had a stay-at-home wife to manage the kids. Maybe that’s true — I don’t know. But it’s worth talking about.

  2. Bucky
    Bucky says:

    Meredith, thanks for pointing out the vile nature of Palin and the GOP for suddenly deciding that asking questions about a candidate’s family is out of bounds when the conservatives in this country have been making political hay out of prying into other people’s families for decades now.

    Palin is happy to tell me what sort of family I can have (no homos allowed!), what sort of sex I can have and with whom, when I can become a parent or not — and then she gets indignant when people question the personal family decisions she makes?

    Please.

  3. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    I do love to read your writing. I was reflecting on your recent post on vulnerability and thought the act of writing as you do is quite vulnerable. One thing, however, that I wondered about with all your honesty, it seemed like the reason you’re alone now isn’t just about having more money than your husband. I’d be interested in hearing about what else went on there as I figured there was more.

    Also, it seems like writing as you do is a real high to have such a following and that’s quite impressive indeed.

  4. amy
    amy says:

    i want to echo what kathryn just wrote.

    i think that same thought every time i read. it really is very brave of you to write the way you do. as a former writer myself (turned corporate marketing and PR person) i’ve always thought that courage is the cornerstone of ALL good writing (i.e., fiction etc) and it is certainly true of blogging.

    even if i disagree w/ something you’ve written, which is rare, i am just in awe that you have the confidence and courage to write from the heart.

    thanks so much.

  5. Paul
    Paul says:

    Great points, Penelope (as if I know you like that)

    Frankly, I’m way more concerned about the whole “pro-life, pro-gun, I hate gays” stance that Palin (and her party) continue to exemplify, so I hadn’t even thought about the whole parenting thing. You bring a unique perspective from having lived your life, and I appreciate how unafraid you were to share your thoughts.

    While we’re on the topic of politics, how do you think 20-somethings view the race? I see Gen Y flocking to the Dem’s in huge numbers due to those issues listed above – they seem much more tolerant to me, and much LESS tolerant of the intolerance currently exemplified by the Republicans. I think within 10 years the Republicans will be running for the hills. But then again, I live in a big city. How about the rest of the country?

  6. Josh Russo
    Josh Russo says:

    I recommended you to friends as the most transparent and intellectually honest blogger I’ve ever read.

    Sorry, but either you’re way smarter than this post or I’ve way overestimated your intellectual honesty.

    Hopefully you’re just being dumb. I can put up with a lot of dumb. But manipulation will send me packing, and today I feel abused.

  7. anon
    anon says:

    New name for you “The Hypocritical Careerist.”

    So sad you are letting left wing politics take down a woman who could do such much for special needs children in office. God forbid her husband (and all of the care in the world afforded by the white house) care for her children.

    FYI- Obama has 2 kids too. Should we send social services out to his house for neglecting them during his “career” and campaign.

    Shame on you.

    BTW- how about a comment back on all of this?

  8. Denise
    Denise says:

    Breadwinning, traveling mother here. I grew up in a house with a special needs sister. My parents divorced after 20 years of trying to make it work. My Mom put herself through college in addtion to meeting the needs of my sister and the three other kids. I have much to say on this issue.

    I think it’s easy, as a mom to want to escape from the very difficult challenges you face everyday trying to care for a child that in some cases will never be able to tell you how they appreciate the efforts you put into it. The rewards for raising special needs children can often times feel few and far between. It’s human nature to want to feel fulfilled through a challenging career. The problem: it’s easy for parents in this situation to get completely self-absorbed in meeting their own needs, cause that’s where the personal validation comes from. Before you know it, it’s all they see.

    I have found myself getting caught in that trap myself. I realize that my big important job is still on my mind when I’m with my family. And, I’ve started to take myself and my career too seriously, at the expense of my relationships with my family. After 8 years, I’ve finally realized that it’s not solely about quantity of time, it’s about quality. Now I leave my work at the office, I don’t work at night or on the weekends. My time with my family is completely theirs. And, even with that, it’s still hard. My Mom was home with us everyday for 14 years of my life before she took a full time job, but she wasn’t really there in her mind. Her investment of time fell short because her heart wanted something more, and she was drained everyday, giving to a child who couldn’t really give back. It’s a healthy balance of both quality and quantity that can make it work. This applies to both Moms and Dads.

    For someone like Palin, should she be elected into this big important job of the vice presidency with the spot light on her every move, how will she be able to get beyond her own sense of self-importance, leaving all her responsibilities behind to really be “there” for her kids? I think that’s the real question. It’s safe to say the quantity isn’t going to be there.
    Will the time she has with them be enough?

    At the end of the day, what she chooses for herself and her family is really out of any of our control. And, if she weren’t standing on a soap box of “family values,” playing up her special needs child as though this elevates her in the eyes of all parents, pretending she’s excited for her pregnant teenage daughter and her boyfriend, who has admitted he never wanted kids.

    To still stand behind abstinence as the right thing is clearly not reality, and not recognizing the needs of her own family.

    She can be proud of her family, but be honest. It’s hard to be a parent of a teenager; it’s hard to be a parent of a special needs child; it’s hard being in the public eye being scrutinized for your every move. It’s hard to know if you’re really doing the right thing by working on your career goals versus staying at home with your kids. Get real. Talk about what’s real. Make decisions based on reality, not on some idealogical principle that might help you get elected with the conservatives. Admit when you’re wrong. That’s what counts. That’s what has integrity. That’s what’ll mean something to your family in the end.

  9. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    They say she represents the average middle american mother…what a sad commentary on our society. When they are quite minded, do they really believe that their highest contribution is to satisfy their egos through a career? Their regret will come on their deathbeds, when they recognize that they brought lives into the world and turned their backs on them, choosing a job that supports a luxury lifestyle instead.

    If you don’t want to spend time with your kids, please don’t have them.

  10. Marie
    Marie says:

    Jesus!
    No one would have told a man to stay at home. But a woman…

    The children have a father, it’s a privileged family and they’ll get loads of help. They’ll be just fine. Yes it’s much harder with a DS child, but again: Loads of help.

  11. Gwen
    Gwen says:

    If Palin is the best example of a mother given the party’s ideas of ‘family values’ then somehow I have missed out on something.

    I just cannot believe that with such a large family… (and with a teenager and baby needing special attention) she has taken on this job.

    Women can be amazing, but I wait to see how she pulls this off.
    http://www.vernasmith.blogspot.com

  12. Lynne Irvine
    Lynne Irvine says:

    Has it occurred to anyone that the Palins may well not be through giving birth to children they don’t want to raise? Given her views on abortion, and sex education, isn’t it likely she’s opposed to birth control as well? After all, who would have PLANNED getting pregnant for your fifth child at 43 only seven months after you took the oath of office as Governor? Can we expect the person a heart beat away from the presidency might be in labor when she gets the call? I have been researching the 8 women governors, only one has school age children, and her husband resigned his job when she took office. I am a feminist and I believe women can do anything, but, not EVERYTHING SIMULTANEOUSLY. It is just plain irresponsible to try!

  13. Steve C
    Steve C says:

    @ Marie. Be careful with that Jesus stuff, unless of course you were speaking directly to him. From all appearances, that could get you into a heap of trouble with the person you are defending. :-)
    Steve

  14. pmw
    pmw says:

    >>>So did you rail against John Edwards when he was campaigning? It seems he had a small child as well as as his wife’s illness to (not) take care of. Should we be upset with Biden for ditching his sons in the hospital after the death of his infant so he could go be a senator? These issues have not come up and a good part of the reason is because columnists (like you, Penelope) have never raised them. Because a man is allowed to have a family and a career.<<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.<

    She DOES talk about Edwards! Go find it for yourself – 3rd paragraph from the bottom.

    As for Biden – it’s REALLY easy to look up his biography from any number of sources. He DID NOT leave his two young sons bedside after the death of their mother & sister. He DID NOT attend his own swearing in to congress, as he’d only recently been elected – rather it was held at the bedside of one of the boys IN THE HOSPITAL. He ALWAYS went home to care for his boys after the accident, every night, once he did return to work. And left his staff with orders that if one of the boys called – no matter where he was or what he was doing – he was to be interrupted to handle their calls. The man still refuses to work each December 16th in reverence to the day he lost his first wife and young daughter.

    I’m all for you defending Palin, if that’s your choice, but do so by defending HER – not simply spitting out the first piece of crap that enters your head about everyone else. Get your facts straight and argue like an adult.

  15. Juki Schor
    Juki Schor says:

    I live in Europe and have started to browse American magazines and blogs to get an idea what it is like to live in the States as a woman with kids etc.. We had an idea to move there, don’t have it anymore. Honestly, I have a feeling that American women are a little hysteric. First of all, I feel nobody on this list is talking about
    “what it’s like to be a breadwinner mom of a five-month-old special needs kid.” I think we are talking about being a carreerist and mom at the same time, no?
    But even if it is just breadwinning, why on Earth are you having discussions on how “to cope with an insanely organized work world” instead of “how to change the working conditions into something which is manageable for families?” Some like it hard it seems. I live in Scandinavia, I mean, it is possible. But when you make an identity out of being Miss Superwoman, that’s what you get. If it wasn’t hard but would be smooth and easy and joyful, would that feel dull? There wouldn’t be much to brag about I guess. “Look how great I am, I manage it all, will you please finally love me now?” Is it that?

  16. CAK
    CAK says:

    To Juki:
    Just as Sarah Palin has “energized” the Republican party, and given us a debate forum, and polarized a lot of women . . . so Juke’s post has energized me.
    You are SO right, Juki! I talk to a Danish-born woman at Tae Kwon Do, who says what you say.
    You are right to challenge a basic assumption that American women have: that they simply must be Superwoman, who does it all and has it all. And yes, I, too, think that we are all trying to prove something/prove ourselves. Which has the feeling of being chased down the railroad track by a train that is gaining on your by the minute. Of course, you will eventually be cut down . . .
    Those who adjust (manipulate?) their lives to deal with mothering special needs kids should talk about the details. They should talk about their adaptations. In positive and negative ways. I want details.
    Your point about being a change-agent is also well-taken. Sarah Palin’s commitment to being an advocate for special needs families rings false with me because she lacks experience in that arena (as in many other arenas) and because she is leaving the adaptations to other family members and to ancillary staff.

    CAK

  17. CAK
    CAK says:

    Also, I wanted to include this quote from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sunday, 9/7/08.
    This is an opininion piece written by Ellen Bravo, activist and founder of Nine to Five, devoted to working women’s issues (www.ellenbravo.com):
    “McCain istrying to pass of Palin as a career mom who knows the difficulties of balancing job and family–hoping women won’t notice the ticket’s opposition to every measure that would ease those difficulties, from expanding family leave to paid sick days to equal pay.” (www.jsonline.com)

    CAK

  18. Ben Dover
    Ben Dover says:

    Your children didn’t (and don’t) take precedence over your work, so WTF are you saying? I personally can’t stand the vacuous, ignorant, religious rantings of Ms. Palin, but you are a complete imbecile and: disingenuous, dishonest, intellectually inconsistent and, lastly, full of cf*p. You can’t have it all. Sorry, it is not possible. There is more than enough to disqualify and never have to address issues like her children like: she is a batsh*t crazy wingnut calvinistic evangelical who wants to replace capable government staffers with religious shills, she has utterly no experience, she is anti roe vs. wade, she wants to ban books, she would roll back civil rights, she would gladly drill on the north slope w/o environmental controls, she uses her elected offices to harass and to influence peddle, etc. She doesn’t give 2 sh*ts about “special needs” children, since she cut that budget in Alaska by more than 50%. Now, you can start growing up yourself.

  19. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    wow, this post has generated a lot of comments! Looks like you hit a nerve with your frank talk about Sarah Palin. Thank you for saying what everyone is thinking but is afraid to say out loud.

  20. Steve C
    Steve C says:

    Thanks to Juki and CAK for a refreshing bird’s-eye-view perspective of the issue, and for some pointed and valuable information regarding the truth behind the advertising of the McCain ticket. It doesn’t surprise me that the most uplifting analysis in this dialogue so far has come from one who does not live in this country. Uplifting and sad at the same time. It takes a village.
    Steve

  21. Tim Richardson
    Tim Richardson says:

    You have some valid points in your post but what better way to teach your children about overcoming adversity than to do it yourself. A gree with your acertain that there should have rallying against John Edwards for running just as there should have against Obama. Why is this seem to be just an issue for women? And why are woman who supported Clinton now saying Palin should be home with her children? If Palin's husband is capable and able to take care of the children, why shouldn't she have every chance to be elected? I find it very ironic that this is coming up now and not before in this election.

    In an ideal world, it may very well be that it’s best for the mother to be home with the children. We have all heard of moms (and dads) that it would be better if they were NEVER with the kids.
    It could be that Palin’s husband is more nuturing and the better of the two choices.

    Regardless, this is a historic election and I am all for what it is bringing – change. I am excited there is an electable woman VP and an electable Africian American. When I watched Obama and Michelle I remember thinking what great hope it gives for all Americans that they are in a legitimate position to occupy the White House. This election is getting people excited on both sides and after years of apathy and historic low voter turnout, I'm glad all these discussions are happening. What if we had two "traditional" candidates and "seasoned" VP's? None of us would be writing here and it would be the same ole same ole. I say, "bring it on and more of it".

    By the way, I am the proud parent of five children. There’s no doubt that my wife is better of the two of us in nurturing our children. That was something we both agreed on early in our marriage. However, if I were called to serve at home while she pursued an opportunity for which she felt led, I would do so lovingly and supportingly and I think our kids would do just fine.

  22. Susan Ss
    Susan Ss says:

    ok all you idealists who have never had a taste of real life! I cannot bite my tongue any longer – I am a career woman and a mother – 30 yrs in the corporate workplace and I am in absolute agreement with Ms. Trunk. I am all for women’s empowerment and equal treatment BUT I am also a REALIST.

    I managed a demanding career and raised my two daughters (ages 5 and 8) all alone when my husband died suddenly from a brain anuerysm at age 35.No, my children were not ‘special needs’ children but they certainly developed ‘special needs’ after they watched their dad suffer and die in front of them.

    The balancing act was so precarious and stress was so tremendous between my responsibilities to my children and my workplace that I am certain is why I ended up with a serious health condition over years of worry (Multiple Sclerosis). And I didn’t CHOOSE this balancing act. IT CHOSE ME.

    Ms. Palin, on the other hand is tempting fate by throwing caution to the wind. What if her husband were to suddenly die? What if her daughter’s life is endangered during delivery of this baby? What is she, by the ‘grace of God’, gets pregnant again and is in labor when the next 9/11 happens? Hasn’t she considered these possibilities? And don’t tell me she is the only person that can canvas for ‘special needs’ rights….leave that to someone else.

    Ms. Palin – you made your choice when you decided to have 5 kids… you don’t even know yet what the impact is of raising a special needs child – this baby is a few months old!

    Having it ALL doesnt mean having it all at the same time! Raise your children responsibly and then dedicate your life to saving the world. What SMUG and irresponsible choices, not only to your children but to this country!

    All I can say is, thank God Ms. Palin has an ‘in’ with God – because she will certainly need God’s help.

    Do we really need another ‘bring it on’ person in the White House? God help this country.

  23. Lynne Irvine
    Lynne Irvine says:

    Great response from Susan! Those of us who have had to manage children alone would never THINK of putting our need for power ahead of the welfare of the country. I agree, women can have it all, just not simultaneously! It isn’t fair to the children and it isn’t fair to the country. Also, with age comes wisdom, and this woman needs to AGE! There are 8 women governors in the US currently. Only Michigan’s Jennifer Granholm has school age children and her husband resigned his job to take care of their three children when she was elected. Guess what, he doesn’t believe Palin’s decision to try to ‘have it all’ is responsible! This is not being a C.E.O., this is not geing a Governor, this is not even being a Congresswoman, this is sitting a 72 year old heartbeat away from the highest office in the land, and world. That isn’t even to mention how far from the mainstream her ideas and policies are. I think the ACLU needs to take a look at some of the ‘religious proclimations’ which have come from her office. Perhaps it will be a blessing that McCain brought her policies to national attention. After all, she wants to take Polar Bears off the endangered species list and put gay people on.

  24. editormum
    editormum says:

    Hey, everyone! Despite the media focus on Sarah Palin, guess what? The Presidential campaign is OBAMA vs. MCCAIN. One of those two will be living and working in the White House.

    Biden and Palin are the go-alongers. (funny how we haven’t really heard all that much about Biden.) One of them will live in the VPs residence and will preside over legislative sessions of the Senate, casting the tie-breaking vote in any deadlocked debate over a bill. Other than that, there’s not a lot of official responsibility for the VP, unless the President assigns something.

    The only way you’re going to get Palin or Biden living in the White House is if, God forbid, something happens to the President. If he resigns, is removed, or dies, OR if there’s a really seriously deadlocked vote on the Senate floor, THEN AND ONLY THEN will Biden or Palin be in a place of power. The VP is about continuity of government and the occasional tie-breaker.

    So we need to stop talking as if this campaign were Obama vs. Palin, and get back to dealing with the actual Presidential candidates.

  25. Steve C
    Steve C says:

    Editormum. Helloooooooo. Have you not heard of a guy named Dick Cheney? Where have you been for the last 8 years. This is a VP who has changed the course of history (and re-written it to his own liking), and not in a postive direction. I honestly cannot believe that you think this is a position with no impact on the direction this country takes. Many suspect the VP is the man behind the curtain in this administration. Your’s is a very dangerous perception indeed.
    Steve

  26. N
    N says:

    Thank you. I raised an autistic child alone for many years. It almost killed me. Literally. It took a year to recover from the years of physical exhaustion and strain. I was unable to work, as his condition worsened my life was devoted to one thing- his care.
    Fighting schools, insurance companies and the states to get the services he needed. Then going home alone to care for him and his younger siblings.
    I didn’t go into it alone, I’ve been married twice.

    The strain of the behavior problems, inability to ever go anywhere, etc didn’t help at all.

    I’m rather resentful of the attention she is getting. What about the rest of us who have been doing this? Its no picnic.

  27. Lynne Irvine
    Lynne Irvine says:

    Thank you Steve C! You are a voice of reason in these comments. If McCain is elected it is LIKELY he will not live out his first term of office. He has had cancer FOUR times. P.O.W.s have a shortened life expectancy due to the stress, nutritional deficiency and abuse they endured. And John McCain is 72 years old. So the question becomes, would you vote for Sara Palin? My answer is a resounding NO! This is a package deal which, as Ariana Huffington wrote today comes with a TROJAN MOOSE! Palin is absolutely unprepared to be COMMANDER IN CHIEF!
    She has been Governor of a sparsely populated state for 20 months (how many of them were spent on maternity leave?) She (and her 5 kids and husband) spend $98,000 on travel last year including a trip to a $700/nite hotel in New York (while claiming to be a fiscal conservative and reformer.) She even charged a per-diem to the taxpayers of Alaska to stay in her OWN HOME in Wasilla! This woman is scary WITHOUT the five kids!

  28. ken
    ken says:

    Before blogs we had the TV talk shows to expose America to new values and especially women’s rights. I was raised watching Phil Donahue dance through the audience allowing women to have their say on social and political topics. I learned about all the Women’s causes of the day. Equal pay for equal work made perfect sense. Being allowed to work instead of being expected to stay home sounded fair. Taking leadership roles in all areas of society and the workplace was only natural. Well now Sarah has accomplished what so many women struggled for and is being criticized for doing so. Come on ladies be careful on this one. Do you really think Sarah, representing you all, should now only be in charge of dirty diapers, laundry and doing the dishes. If you wish that for her…you are wishing it for yourself too.

  29. Steve C
    Steve C says:

    Phew. Who invented these blogs sites anyway? I’m putting way too much time into this. Just a couple of things on my mind. The one family I was close to that had a severely disabled child gave me a look at how totally consuming it is, for at least one of the parents, and usually for at least one of the siblings. But the thing I remember most is how frustrating it was for them to deal with the school system, trying to force them to provide the services they were required by law to provide. The obstacles included the schools taking money earmarked for special needs children, then using it for something else for the regular students. As I recall, this was an on-going battle.
    So I hope that no one mistakenly awards Ms. Palen the kudos that belong to families who have been dealing with these issues far longer than she. From what I have gathered about her dealings with special needs programs so far, she wouldn’t be on my friend’s Christmas card list.
    Obviously, my interest in these discussions here is political, and I am a Democrat who will support Obama even though I think it was incredibly short-sighted for him to not have forseen this situation and guessed what Carl Rove would come up with, and I would have been more excited to have Hillary Clinton in the white house, if only for knowing how distressing it would be for all the ditto-heads out there..By the way, some on my best friends are republicans, so I’m not as bigotted as it may seem..
    Here’s the thing that really gets to me: Rove is manipulating McCain, who is manipulating Palin, who is manipulating her own 17 yr old daughter, who is manipulating someone else’s son(who and where are his parents?) I really feel sorry for these kids. What kind of person(s) would willingly subject children to this type of circus? And enjoy doing it??? It certainly didn’t phase McCain.
    When I was thinking about all the homes being foreclosed on, I couldn’t help but think about all the kids losing thier bedrooms and neighborhood pals, and wondering what school they would be going to. It’s the kids that end up suffering because of our actions. I guess you can abandon children in more ways than one.
    Politicaly, the bottom line for me is this: the real power lies in the hands of the special interests that these people represent. If anyone doesn’t see McCain pandering to the extreme right wing here, I have to refer them back to my comment about P.T.Barnum and how many suckers are born every minute. But McCain is just playing out the hand that Rove has dealt him. There’s really no telling what he may do if elected. Palen, on the other hand, has made it crystal clear what special interests she will represent. Is it worth electing McCain, just to say we have a woman in the Executive branch, and possibly the White House, who will proceed to advocate for her known special interests? I’m really terrified for my sons, that’s for sure.
    Steve C.

  30. Lynne Irvine
    Lynne Irvine says:

    Dear Ken, You are missing the point! I’m a feminist. I’m a working mother. I have friends, both male and female,who choose to be primary caregivers for their children. Feminism is about choices, for both sexes. If Sarah Palin were to continue as Governor of Alaska, great! A governor does not deal with matters of national security. I think the public has an absolute right to expect single mindedness from their Commander in Chief!
    Because of McCain’s age and health, it is likely she would land in that position. Hillary Clinton had raised her family, had a lifetime of public service, and had international experience. She had demonstrated an ability to work with others, as opposed to the McCain/Palin ‘maverick’ my way or the highway approach. It is insulting to both women and men to think we’re supposed to be ‘switch’ female candidates without analyzing their positions on major issues. I wouldn’t vote for a man or a woman with her position on the issues. I wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama if he had five children, one pregnant, one handicapped and his wife were off working at a distance, drinking and snowmobiling. I would think his family was an instable family in crisis! Why is it sexist to want a stable, sophisticated, tolerant, worldly, educated leader? We need to get past race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation to SUBSTANCE.

  31. CAK
    CAK says:

    Pointing out a huge irony . . .
    This argument for being single-minded . . . it is the same argument that Catholic Church uses when insisting upon celibacy for Catholic priests/nuns.
    Priests (and religious women)cannot marry so that they can single-mindedly focus on service . . . a family would be a distraction . . .

    CAK

  32. jill d
    jill d says:

    Maybe Palin should have a talk with Biden about what the possible implications are of raising a family and working for the government because i have a feeling he could open all of our eyes. Even he considered resigning his position and he at the time was not potentially in line to be president.

  33. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    THANK YOU! So much! My thoughts EXACTLY. This is what I’ve been trying to tell people all along – oh, thank you!

  34. LIrvine
    LIrvine says:

    Dear CAK, And being a celibate religious person has what to do with national security? And I’m asking Sara Palin to be celibate, how? Sara Palin would be a ridiculous choice if she were a man, why do you think John McCain is not allowing her ‘off script’? She is a dangerous, unproven wild card who lives with a ‘wild west’ mentality. She has NO experience in international affiars, she has a deplorable record on human rights and the environment, and she has no problem trampling the first amendment with her ‘call from God’ and she has a family in crisis. Your logic is illogical.

  35. PB
    PB says:

    PT, someone has to say it, you are clearly a smart person, successful and good at what you do.

    But… you’re also an idiot. You fail to see that ALL people don’t think think the way you do. So when you encounter someone who doesn’t think your way, the immediate response is that their failure translates into their inability to think correctly.

  36. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    I must be missing something here. Seriously, this post was written to bash on Palin because a) she has two kids with disabilities or b) her family *might* come unglued due to the stress of campaigning and new responsiblities ?

    How is she at fault for either of those two points?

    I usually appreciate your posts, but I have to say this one was a mindless rant. Bad mood ?

    Having two children with disabilities does not make you nuts. Also, I’m sure the family will have enough money once she’s elected to take care of the family.

  37. Lynne Irvine
    Lynne Irvine says:

    Jeremy, I have not heard anyone here, including Penelope, saying Sara Palin has any ‘fault’ or is ‘nuts.’ What I am reading is how HARD it is to try to have it all simultaneously. I think many, many, many women are shocked at how difficult the task is without having children with disabilities. Sarah Palin is 44 years old. If she feels called to national service, I believe she would be better prepared for those demands when 1) she has more experience, 2) her children are older. The recent photos from her office in Ankorage showed a baby
    swing. How can that possibly be appropriate in the Oval Office? Her son with is only 4 months old, she has NO idea yet what additional demands she will face. Perhaps she can have it all, just not simultaneously!

  38. Steve C
    Steve C says:

    Jeremy. All of the above, really. The question here is, kids or no kids, is she nuts? The jury may be out on that one, but putting her children way below her personal ambitions doesn’t exactly help her case any, no matter how many personal assistants they will have. It takes a very special kind of person to do that, and to have competed in beauty contests, but I personally don’t view those characteristics as being good qualifiers for the job of Vice President of The United States of America; and I certainly don’t think her extremist views and ideologies are a good job fit either. Geeze, she’s already thumbing her nose at Vladimir Putin, and in the same breath, tried to backpedal her way out of apppearing to have done so; and she has been dishing out misrepresentations left and right. Would you buy a used car from someone like that?, or negotiate an arms treaty?
    Steve

  39. Lynne Irvine
    Lynne Irvine says:

    In her first interview with Charlie Gibson, Sara Palin demonstrated her lack on knowledge on the national or international level, as represented by her answer on the ‘Bush Doctrine’. I believe the next administration needs to take a serious look at the challenges to our constitution which have taken place under the Bush administration. Even giving Bush the benefit of the doubt that it was well intentioned, absolute power, by it’s nature corrupts. What happened to the right to a fair and speedy trial for the detainees in Cuba? Are we under no moral obligation to follow the Constitution just because they are held offshore? I am often amazed at the command of the facts many world leaders have. The only way to obtain that is 1) to be of exception intellect, 2) to read, read, read, read, 3) to travel. Sara Palin had an undistinguished college career, attending 6 colleges in five years to obtain a Bachelors degree in Journalism, 2) Sarah Palin cannot possibly have the time to read, read, read, read when having an executive level position, a husband and five children, including a developmentally challenged infant, and 3) she has not traveled beyond Canada and Mexico. I am also concerned she places the welfare of Alaska above national interest. If making impulsive decisions makes a maverick, then I guess John McCain is a maverick.
    This is a dangerous stunt, designed to convert Hillary Clinton’s voters and ‘make history,’ and to appeal to the religious extremists in the Republican party. I am confident the more she speaks, the more her inexperience will be revealed. Delivering one speech written by George Bush’s speech writer well, does not make a president. We all need to responsibly assume a vote for John McCain IS a vote for Sara Palin as president, given his age and health.

  40. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I am so glad somebody has finally pointed this out. I do think it is our business as voters to consider the choices that the candidates make in their personal lives. It reflects directly on the candidates priorities and judgement. I see someone who has little experience, who sees life as a series of fights to win with little thought for the fall out of those decisions. I’m not terribly thrilled with either party this time but I think this is going to push my vote over to the Democrats camp. I am a working Mom with three school-age children, none of whom are special needs.
    What I’ve found, is that there is no substitute for parental presence and that isn’t something you can handle by e-mail or schedule in when its convenient. And mothers and fathers are not replaceable or interchangeable. I was 30 years old before I had my first child, had always been extremely independent, had 12 years of post-high school education under my belt and a high-paying professional career and I still wanted my Mom to be there. My mom couldn’t be there (she passed away 2 yrs previously) and I coped, but I can’t imagine being 17 and going through all that.

    How can she care for her 17 year old going through this major life-changing event, her 5 month old who has a major disability (and one that has been known to show up with life-threatening complications unexpectedly) who surely needs intensive parenting and stimulation, a son in combat in Iraq, a daughter who has just hit adolescence and a daughter in elementary school.

    Kids need you on their timetable not yours. How many times have one of my kids after several hours of putzing around the house, driving to school, cooking dinner, or doing chores quietly confided a worry or sadness,a joy or achievement or maybe just an opinion about their world that turns out to be a moment for me to understand them better, reassure, console and get closer to them. I’m hearing comments praising her for being a “superwoman” or “supermom”. I don’t care how super a person may be, she can’t put more than 24 hours in a day, she can’t make Japan, Washington
    DC and Alaska any closer to each other and she can’t get those four years back.

  41. LIrvine
    LIrvine says:

    It is interesting to note, the women who oppose Palin as Vice President, and potential President are the highly educated, career women with children who have tried to wear the cape. My experience has shown me there is NO substitute for MOM! Even with a supportive, involved father and/or extended family there is ‘Mom’ and ‘Not-the-Mom’. What feminism has not acknowledged is that we are creatures of our biology, programmed to bond with and nurture our children. For an infant, Mom is food and protection in one package. I was fortunate enough to be able to work part time from a home office with a nanny when my children were young, and even with that schedule, both children were terrible sleepers, making it very difficult for me to be at full functioning during the day. If they wern’t getting enough of me during the day, they were going to take it out of me at night. When my children were ill, they ALWAYS called for me during the night. In most marriages, even when the women’s career demands and earnings exceed her husband’s, Mom is still the primary caregiver. Perhaps the next wave of feminism needs to provide more support for Motherhood, particularly for young children. We can look to the Scandinavian countries for family support policies. I have heard non of this kind of public policy request from the Palin administration.

  42. LIrvine
    LIrvine says:

    This post relates to an aritcle I’m working on as a free lance journalist, so, I continue finding relevant research. I just learned the McCain children were raised by Cindy McCain alone in Arizona while John McCain was in Washington. I also found some interesting quotes from Michelle Obama regarding her feelings as a working mother wearing the cape:

    “[I’m] always living with the guilt that if I’m spending too much time at work, then I’m not giving enough time to my girls,” she said to the mostly female audience. “And then if I’m with my girls, then I’m not doing enough for work – or you name it. It’s a guilt that we all live with in this room. Can I hear an amen?”

    “If there’s one thing that I’ve seen out there, as I’ve traveled around the country over this last year, is that women need an advocate in the White House now more than ever before,” she has said.

    How do the Palins propose to raise their children if John McCain is elected? I think it’s a fair question that has not been addressed.

  43. Patty Taylor
    Patty Taylor says:

    Penelope,
    You have a nanny, a house manager, and a cleaning woman? Oh, and a career? I have a career too and children and a farm, and NO nanny, NO cook and NO house manager.

    You sound like a spoiled, whiney, woman who makes other hard working women and parents look bad.

    Sarah Palin deserves everything she’s worked hard for and she and her husband are obviously an effective team. Maybe you should ask her for some pointers instead of criticizing her. She’s an inspiration.

  44. Steve
    Steve says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t think Sarah Palin could care less about all this back and forth about all the deep personal, ideological, and political issues that women face in life. Right now, Sarah Palin is living the dream in her own promised land. This is a woman who paraded herself around in “beauty” contests, or pageants, whatever you want to call them. I mean, what is the objective, the goal, of that exercise? Self gratification? Prize money? What? So whatever else is going on here, it seems to me that the essence of what is motivating Sarah Palin is the need to be in the spotlight, to be “the most beautiful” in the contest, to get the attention. As a bonus, if she wins, she thinks she gets to control other people’s lives. What she doesn’t realize is, where she is headed, even if McCain gets elected AND dies in office, she is NOT going to be in control. She will be controlled by the special interest power brokers who are putting her in office. And what’s wrong with that? After all, this is a person who has no qualms whatsoever about controlling our lives, especially those of women, right? I certainly don’t believe this woman is cut from the same cloth as those who came before her, who made it possible to even conceptualize a “glass ceiling.”

    One of the problems I have always had with mandated motherhood is that, regardless of maternal instincts and genetic codes and wiring, unless it is really voluntary, it is a form of voluntary servitude, a form of slavery. Parenthood is bonded servitude no matter how you shake it. Once you have children, you are either a good parent or not, or worse. How you deal with and raise your children define you as a person, no matter what else you do with your life.

    The other problem I have with the “no choice,” pro-life, right-to-life groups is that they are all that when it comes to making sure that every woman has to give birth, regardless of how the baby was conceived. But AFTER the baby is born, they are outta there, and it’s all welfare-to-work, let’s gut those social safety nets for everyone who really needs them. It is like federally mandated programs with no federally mandated funding. It’s your problem now, baby.

    I have said this before, and I’m sticking to my guns. Carl Rove, John McCain and the Republican party couldn’t care less what women think or want. The selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate is designed to pit republican women against non-republican women, neutralizing your votes. ALL women are being manipulated here, and by extension, everyone else in this country as well.

  45. LIrvine
    LIrvine says:

    Steve, I agree that the McCain campaign selected Sara Palin for their own political purposes. And I don’t agree with her positions on Rowe v/ Wade, the environment, or the 1st Amendment, reason enough to make a choice as a feminist for a candidate who’s VIEWS on the issues are more parallel to mine rather than just voiting for gender. However, many capable women, including Michigan’s governor Jennifer Granholm, have been in beauty pagents. This is one symptom of our changing times. Women now have more choices for recognition and influence than they did in the past. It’s tough for a woman to break out of expectations that we can have it all, be it all. Beautiful women can’t be smart? Smart women aren’t beautiful? Read the interview with Ms. Palin in Vogue Magazine, she comes off quite differently than she does as packaged by the Bush speech writer. There’s plenty to admire about her guts and determination. I simply don’t agree with her on the issues, I am concerned about her lack of international experience, and I agree with Michigan ‘First Gentleman’ Daniel Mulhern, she has NO idea what she would be putting her family through to uproot them and move them to Washington. This isn’t the right timing for either the nation or her family.

  46. Steve C
    Steve C says:

    Thanks Lynne. As I said, in some other circumstances, I’d probably be pulling for her. Having said that, it sure doesn’t look to me like she’s a family first kind of person, regardless of her politics. I have no reason to believe I wouldn’t like and respect her, and enjoy hanging around the rink with her and her kids, as long as she respected my right to hold convictions probably at odds with her’s. But once you toss Rove and the republican party into the mix, I’m a different breed of cat,and if possible, take no prisoners. I kind of feel sorry for her though, like a kid who starts to run with the wrong crowd, and she is taking a beating out there along with all the “you go girls.” But she needs to do her due diligence, and she should know that we are all defined by the company we keep. Politics is not for the weak-at-heart, and like ice hockey, it’s no place for sissies.
    Steve

  47. Lynne Irvine
    Lynne Irvine says:

    Alright Steve, I think we’re taking over here! But if you haven’t read it I thought you might enjoy the following perspective which provides a deeper analysis of our national motives as reflected through the ‘Palin Packaging.’

    Obama and the Palin Effect
    From: Deepak Chopra
    Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008
    At The Huffington Post

    Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

    She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

    I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

    Look at what she stands for:

    –Small town values — a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

    –Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.

    –Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be heeded.

    –Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

    –Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.

    –“Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

    Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

    Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, who's smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

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