Supposedly McCain knew. Did he?
The 17-year-old daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is pregnant, Palin said on Monday in an announcement intended to knock down rumors by liberal bloggers that Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover up for her child.
Bristol Palin, one of Alaska Gov. Palin’s five children with her husband, Todd, is about five months pregnant and is going to keep the child and marry the father, the Palins said in a statement released by the campaign of Republican presidential candidate John McCain…
Senior McCain campaign officials said McCain knew of the daughter’s pregnancy when he selected Palin last week as his vice presidential running mate, deciding that it did not disqualify the 44-year-old governor in any way…
McCain officials said the news of the daughter’s pregnancy was being released to rebut what one aide called “mud-slinging and lies” circulating on liberal blog sites.
And here’s the statement, via Team McCain, from Palin and her husband:
“We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.
“Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”
Gathering my thoughts. Stand by for updates.
Update: It shouldn’t hurt Palin but it will, because like I said in my pessimism post on Friday, any sort of embarrassment that she brings to the campaign will be used by the media to push the Dan Quayle/disastrous gamble meme, whether or not the embarrassment’s her own fault or not. (They’ll spin it as a comment on McCain’s “judgment” in picking her.) The left, normally all for teen sex, will naturally use it as an excuse to call her daughter a whore in the guise of criticizing Palin herself for her position on abstinence-only education, which is why I’m thinking maybe McCain really did know about it: Per KP’s analysis, the nastier and more personal the left gets, the greater the risk of a backlash that benefits Palin.
Belated exit question: Anyone find it amazingly coincidental that Daily Kos went after Palin’s own pregnancy right out of the chute on Friday, with no apparent evidence whatsoever, and now we find out that her daughter’s actually pregnant? I usually scoff at the idea of party researchers planting memes with bloggers, especially since the nutroots is so paranoid about that happening on the right, but that’s a simply remarkable stoke of good luck on their part, no?
Update: A second belated exit question: Did they really release this to quash nutroots rumors, which were already pretty well quashed this morning, or because between Gustav and the convention it’s the perfect time to bury it?
Update: Between CNN wondering why the mother of a special needs baby would head off on the campaign trail and Alan Colmes rolling around in the sewer, the left’s been itching since the announcement on Friday to paint her as an unfit mother. Expect a lot of very solemn tut-tutting about how selfish Palin is to have accepted the nomination knowing it’ll only throw a spotlight on her poor daughter, even as they themselves ratchet that spotlight up to nuclear-flash brightness.
Update: Since the dirty laundry’s all coming out today, sources close to Palin tell David Brody that Palin’s husband was arrested for DUI 22 years ago.
Update: A commenter suggests a title for when they make a movie of this saga: “Juneau.”
Update: KP was ahead of the game:
A McCain campaign official tells ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that McCain knew of Bristol’s pregnancy and “didn’t believe Governor Palin should be disqualified” from the vice presidency because of it. “If Democrats try to attack, it will backfire spectacularly,” the official said.
Update: The more I think about it, the more I think McCain probably did know. The timing is simply perfect to release the news: You wouldn’t want to do it on Friday, lord knows, when she’s getting her intro to the country, and you wouldn’t want to do it later in the campaign when it’s closer to Election Day or even later this week when it’d distract from her convention speech. Now’s the time to do it, when it’ll be no higher than the third-most important story of the day.
If I’m right, then the nutroots’s smears about Palin’s own pregnancy gave McCain an amazingly fortuitous pretext here. Now he gets to play the victim — “we had to do it to stop those dastardly left-wing bloggers from hurting the family” — instead of just someone making an embarrassing admission.
Update: Jonathan Martin says social cons won’t be happy about the news. True, but they won’t be particularly upset about it either. The left will push this hard thinking that it’s some kind of dealbreaker for the Christian right, but to believe that you’d have to fundamentally misunderstand where the Christian right’s main emphasis lies. Says Goldstein:
Many on the left will believe, quite mistakenly, that such an announcement is likely to weaken Palin’s support among “the hard-right conservative base”. But in fact, it will do no such thing — first, because the “hard-right conservative base” that liberal Democrats consistently invoke is largely a caricature that lives only in their minds and as a convenient trope in their rhetoric, from whence it can be trotted out as a foil and a boogeyman on cue; and second, because those energized over the choice of Palin include many disaffected libertarians and classical liberals who were, until the announcement of the Governor’s candidacy, set to either sit the election out, or else cast a protest vote for Bob Barr.
Update: And as if right on cue to prove my last point, here’s David Brody of CBN explaining why this won’t hurt Palin with the base.
I’m sure lots of people will take their shots at the pro-life Christian woman but hold on a moment. If you think Evangelicals are going to ditch her for this, you’re totally misreading the situation. As a matter of fact, they are ready to fire back at any potential critics…
Look, this development will actually be positive for the most part with Evangelicals. First they hear that Sarah Palin chooses the life option even though she had a Downs Syndrome baby and once again the family (and Bristol) has chosen the life option in this recent case. That’s a double “ca-ching”. Let’s call this the Evangelical daily double. If anything, this whole situation will probably make more people around the country relate to her and her family. It makes them more real. Will there by some turned off by the whole pre-marital sex thing? Of course but this type of story doesn’t sink her at all with Evangelicals.
Update: The boss notes the contrast with Obama’s notorious “punished with a baby” comment, something else that’ll make it hard for him to capitalize on this with Christians.
Update: Every post Althouse has written about Palin is worth reading, but this is especially sharp:
Oh, that looks like a meme. Sarah Palin must stay home with her special needs baby. Sarah Palin must stay home with her about-to-be-married, pregnant daughter. Ladies: Put your career on hold until everything in you’re family stops happening… Would a man forgo his career to be there for a family member who is experiencing an important life transition?
Remember when John Edwards decided to go on with his campaign after his wife got a diagnosis of inoperable cancer? Now, I think Elizabeth Edwards was probably excited about the campaign and wanted to go on with it. In that light, why are you assuming that Bristol Palin isn’t excited about her mother’s campaign? Unlike Elizabeth Edwards, Bristol is not facing her last days. She’s just starting out — all caught up in life. Presumably, she intense and positive about her pro-life beliefs, her love for the baby’s father, her impending wedding, and the new baby on the way.
Update: Needless to say, for a variety of reasons you won’t be hearing anything about this from Team Barry. But in case any more reason was needed, people are e-mailing to remind me that The One’s mother was also a teenager when she gave birth to him and married his father just six months before he was born. That won’t stop the left from attacking, of course — remember, the ostensible sin here is hypocrisy, not teen motherhood, even though the point clearly enough is to try to shame Palin with her daughter’s morals.
Update: And here’s NBC pushing the abstinence-only angle.
Update: For once, Dobson sounds the right note:
“In the 32-year history of Focus on the Family, we have offered prayer, counseling and resource assistance to tens of thousands of parents and children in the same situation the Palins are now facing. We have always encouraged the parents to love and support their children and always advised the girls to see their pregnancies through, even though there will of course be challenges along the way. That is what the Palins are doing, and they should be commended once again for not just talking about their pro-life and pro-family values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances.
“Being a Christian does not mean you’re perfect. Nor does it mean your children are perfect. But it does mean there is forgiveness and restoration when we confess our imperfections to the Lord. I’ve been the beneficiary of that forgiveness and restoration in my own life countless times, as I’m sure the Palins have.
“The media are already trying to spin this as evidence Gov. Palin is a ‘hypocrite,’ but all it really means is that she and her family are human. They are in my prayers and those of millions of Americans.”
Update: Like I’ve been telling you all along, The One may be many things, but he’s no dummy. Consider this the equivalent of McCain’s “congratulations” ad last week: Classy, and also shrewd.
Mr. Obama, campaigning here, also noted that his own mother was 18 when she gave birth to him.
“People’s families are off limits,” he said. “People’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. ”
“I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories,” he added. “That shouldn’t be a topic in our politics.”
He vehemently pushed back against an unnamed McCain aide suggesting his campaign had any ties to the blogs that were spreading rumors before the news broke, saying he was “offended” by that and if any of his staff was involved in spreading the issue, “they’d be fired.”
Update: Your must-read of the day: Time reporter Nathan Thornburgh on how he’d already heard all about the pregnancy from people in Wasilla and how they — and he — agreed that it was nobody’s business but the Palins’.
All weekend they had the decency not to pretend that they didn’t know the governor’s eldest daughter was pregnant. But they also expected decency in return, that I wouldn’t be the kind of person to make sport out of a young girl’s slip…
As for the idea — sure to be floated—that the avowedly anti-abortion Palin may have pressured her poor daughter to ruin her life by carrying an unwanted baby to term, I wouldn’t bet on it. The Palin family seems to share the same pro-life values going back at least as far back as anyone here can remember, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Bristol wore those values, however imperfectly, as her own. At least, that’s what the town thinks. And Wasilla, above all, is pretty sensible.
Update: Lee Stranahan does the math for Trig Truthers: “Some people are still holding onto the fake pregnancy rumor. Let’s just do some math. Trig was on April 18, 2008 – about four months and a week ago. Bristol is said to be five months pregnant. Now, if you want to pretend that the five month date is a total lie then you’d also have to believe that the 17 year old had a Down’s Syndrome baby then turned right around and got pregnant again presumably because the first premature birth was so freakin’ awesome!”