Friday, September 05, 2008

Meghan McCain on Abortion;
Paternity Tests for All Palin Kids?

A woman's right to an abortion, and to keep her medical records and procedures private, are principles I very much support, so I'm quite uncomfortable raising public questions about abortion and John and Cindy McCain's daughter Meghan.

But earlier this week on her blog, Meghan brought up the hypothetical question of her having an abortion, opening the door to letting in a few follow up questions to her posting. From Meghan's blog:

The first political convention I ever attended was when my mom was pregnant with me in 1984 and the Republican Party nominated Ronald Reagan for a second term as President. I have been on political stages and in campaigns since before I could walk or talk. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that it is difficult to establish your identity and independence as the son or daughter of a politician. When I was 14 years old, a reporter questioned my father about me having a hypothetical abortion, had I been pregnant at 14. This reporter's question single-handedly changed my life. This story comes up in almost every profile written about me and in almost every interview ... [Italics added.]

I wish she fully explained how the reporter's question single-handedly changed her life. Now, I am fully aware I'm going into private and uncomfortable territory here, probing any public woman possibly aborting her fetus, but when that public figure raises the issue of her father being asked such questions, and she blogs about how it affected her life, the normal zone of privacy is dramatically diminished. That being said, a few question pop into my mind.

Is the reason why the reporter's question changed Meghan's life because she herself had an abortion? What are her views on abortion? Are they in sync with positions her father holds?

Given the "let's examine every potential controversial angle" approach this election season on the part of bloggers and the corporate media, why would Meghan broach the topic her hypothetical abortion? Surely she could have expressed her deep empathy with Bristol Palin and other daughters of politicians, without revisiting that reporter's question from long ago.

Here is how CNN in 2000, from New Hampshire, covered the controversial question:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, when asked Wednesday what he would do if his 15-year-old daughter Meghan became pregnant and wanted an abortion, said it would be a "family decision."

"The final decision would be made by Meghan with our advice and counsel," McCain said, speaking of himself and his wife Cindy.

Would Meghan be allowed to make her own medical choices? A clarification answered that matter:

Less than an hour later, his campaign issued a statement from McCain clarifying his position.

"What I intended to say is that this is a family decision. This family decision would be made by the family and not Meghan alone," McCain said in the statement.

But wasn't the entire question something better left to the privacy of Meghan and her family? Yes, but that didn't stop one anti-choice group from opining:

"The statement about his daughter is a private family matter. It is somewhat ambiguous, but the larger problem is that Senator McCain does not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade," said Roger Stenson, a spokesman for [an affiliate in N.H. of the National Right to Life Committee].

Without Meghan blogging this week on her hypothetical abortion question, I doubt I would have thought about this whole matter, much less written about it.

In related news about the personal being political, a hornet's nest of trouble has been stirred up by the National Enquirer related to allegations that Sarah Palin had an affair with a business associate of hubby Todd. From the CBS News blog earlier this week:

John McCain’s campaign threatened legal action against the National Enquirer today for running a story about McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, allegedly having an affair with her husband’s business partner.

“The smearing of the Palin family must end. The allegations contained on the cover of the National Enquirer insinuating that Gov. Palin had an extramarital affair are categorically false. It is a vicious lie,” said McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt.

Hmmm, should I be wondering if all of the Palin children, should take paternity tests? Did the alleged affair lead to Sarah becoming pregnant? Who else is thinking about paternity tests and the Palin kids?

From the New York magazine blog a few days ago:

Schmidt shocked Kurtz with his outrage. But when the writer pressed him, it turns out that a lot of his anger was over questions that reporters had asked, not things they had published. Schmidt was apoplectic over calls that were made regarding the parentage of Trig Palin, in particular. In an interview with Katie Couric, Schmidt said:

Members of this campaign went to off-the-record lunches with reporters today, and they were asked if she would do paternity tests to prove paternity for her last child. Smear after smear after smear, and it's disgraceful and it's wrong. And the American people are going to reject it overwhelmingly when they see her.

But the mainstream media has not published anything (that we have seen) about Palin taking a paternity test. This idea was introduced to the national conversation by Schmidt himself. So, basically, Schmidt is outraged by journalists doing their jobs — asking questions, no matter how outrageous or offensive, and publishing only things that have merit. (As Kurtz pointed out, how absurd would it have seemed in 2007 to ask about Eliot Spitzer's involvement in a prostitution ring?)

Absurd of me to ask rude questions about Meghan McCain and proof of paternity for all of Palin's children? The answer to my question, in the larger framework of McCain's reckless, impulsive and absurd choice for his Veep candidate is yes, but obviously that hasn't prevented me from posing the questions.

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