Reason Writers Around Town: Katherine Mangu-Ward on the Parenting Skills of Sarah Palin and Joe Biden

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In the final installment of her weeklong Los Angeles Times debate with blogger Amanda Marcotte, Associate Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward wonders why it's OK for Joe Biden to brag about his parenting skills while Sarah Palin is expected to tiptoe around the issue of her own.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. If your unmarried, 17 year old, high school drop out daughter is pregnant I would suggest bragging about your parenting skills is the last thing you should be doing.

  2. Sarah Palin is the most successful troll in history. Just look at how no one can stop feeding her.

  3. I’m sure everyone’s read the open letter from Anne Kilkenny, but for those who haven’t:

    http://www.andrys.com/palin-kilkenny.html

  4. Oh, I almost forgot…

    She’s just the VICE-presidential candidate.

  5. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

    The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

    While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

    Yes, I had read the letter before, but reading some of the pro-Palin comments in these articles makes me want to highlight the anti-libertarian passage, above. Just in case you read the letter but missed that bit.

  6. There’s nothing to comment about their “parenting skills” that is relevent to the political debate. If anything, it’s a waste of breath.

  7. I know … not about parenting skills … but someone needed to point it out. Oh, and her parenting skills can use some work.

  8. Sarah Palin is the most successful troll in history. Just look at how no one can stop feeding her.

    Yes. Poor Hillary, she could have been that troll.

  9. Being the federal government is more and more trying to act like our parents, the issue may be relative. But not for the reasons people first think.

    How’s her nanny skills?

  10. No, I hadn’t seen the Kilkenny letter. Thanks. I still think The Enquirer may be on to a thing or 2 up there. They’ve had a good track record of late.

  11. Well that’s just “small town values”. It means you dont have to worry about/watch your kids and teens in your small town. End result of course is lots of sex and drugs cause there’s nothing else to do in a small town for teenagers.

  12. Obama’s mother was a pregnant teen too. Was she trash? Was Obama’s grandmother?

  13. “Obama’s mother was a pregnant teen too. Was she trash? Was Obama’s grandmother?”

    Yes and Yes.

    Also they were sluts.

  14. Lol! Ok, then, just as long as things are equal.

  15. Chloe – Obama’s mother:
    1) Was 18 when she bore him
    2) Is not running for Vice President

    And nobody said anything about “trash” except for you. It’s a question of Palin’s fundamental principles, and how strongly she supports them. AFAICT she’s strongly in support of teaching abstinence-only with regard to sex education while being in favor of contraceptives (go figure that one out). Does she act to support her principles? Hard to tell. Bristol didn’t abstain and didn’t successfully use contraceptives, so this question is; is Palin a “skilled parent”?

    On that note … her first-born is named “Track” and her last-born is named “Trig”. Doesn’t that count as child abuse, in some circles?

  16. Her lack of parenting skills should be an issue! She went to work THREE DAYS after giving birth to her special needs child. The prioirity of her entire family should be working with this little boy to give him his best chance in life. His first years are crucial–ask any educator or medical professional.

  17. I don’t see why judging a presidential candidate based on their parenting skills is any more or less moronic than what most people use to judge ability.

  18. To James B.

    Although I would like to see sex-ed taught the freshman year of highschool – and not just abstinence only – and students should be allowed to obtain condoms from the school nurse, I just cannot agree that this in any way reflects upon the Gov., or on the notion of “abstinence only” sex-ed.

    I don’t know about others here, but I didn’t need a condom wrapped on a cucumber to know how to and why to use one. I think too much is made on the issue of “abstinence only” education.

  19. but I didn’t need a condom wrapped on a cucumber to know how to and why to use one.

    A cucumber? Wow, St. V, we just used a banana. Now, are we talking long English? =P

  20. If your unmarried, 17 year old, high school drop out daughter is pregnant I would suggest bragging about your parenting skills is the last thing you should be doing.

    If you have [had] an unmarried 17 yo daughter, you know how stupid this statement is. Yea, I know but your daughter is different. She is smart enough to …yadda, yadda, yadda.

    No, she and you are just lucky or she just gives head. [BTW – I don’t have girls, just boys that mangaged to make through their teens without knocking any sweet young thing-up]

    JB & Erik in Maine – I am glad I don’t know you. Joe I never ever agree with, but I could still share beer with him. But you two – You are assholes. Palin’s kid never did nothing to no one. Jesus effing Christ!

  21. “Abstinence-only” means “to the exclusion of every other” type of contraception. Her flip-flop can be illustrated by this LA Times snippet:

    In a widely quoted 2006 survey she answered during her gubernatorial campaign, Palin said she supported abstinence-until-marriage programs. But weeks later, she proclaimed herself “pro-contraception” and said condoms ought to be discussed in schools alongside abstinence.

    “I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues,” she said during a debate in Juneau.

    Her (non-)alignment with McCain on the issue might be illustrated by this MSNBC quote:

    “Sen. McCain believes the correct policy for educating young children on this subject is to promote abstinence as the only safe and responsible alternative. To do otherwise is to send a mixed signal to children that, on the one hand they should not be sexually active, but on the other here is the way to go about it.

    @MayorOmalleySuxs … don’t be hatin’. I have never said anything bad about the lovely Bristol Palin. It’s her mother’s bullshit “anything for a quick pandering” that’s hard to swallow. I think Bristol has behaved as any normal, if unlucky, American teenager would. I have no problem with her.

  22. I just have to laugh at you people who think having a 17 year old daughter who gets knocked up shows some kind of incompetence or unfitness on the part of the parents.

    I doubt any of you would follow your logic even a couple of steps, and argue that, because teen pregnancy is much higher in the black and hispanic communities, that blacks and hispanics are much more likely to be incompetent or unfit parents.

    Could we please, just for six weeks, try to act like adults?

  23. Since we’re talking about VP parents, Joe Biden is a great parent.

    Afterall, he got his son, Hunter, a job with MBNA as a lobbyist for the credit card issuing giant. How nice of Joe to talk to his good friend Charles Cawley (Chairman of MBNA) so Hunter could spend more quality time with his daddy lobbying for the 2005 revisions in the bankruptcy law to benefit MBNA and the credit card industry.

    In fact, Joe Biden is such a good guy, when Cawley bought Biden’s home, Cawley paid him an extra $600,000 or so above the asking price…which I’m sure (along with his son’s job) had nothing to do with his vote on the bankruptcy bill.

  24. Since none of us have ever observed Palin’s parenting skills, there is nothing to talk about.

    Even the best parents have kids who screw up, and great kids sometimes sometimes spring from horrid parents. Indeed, the correlation between parenting and success for your children is only moderate.

    I am sorry, but one of five kids making a fairly serious mistake (and taking full responsibility for it) fails to meet any sort of statistical relevance with respect to indicating bad parenting.

  25. “I doubt any of you would follow your logic even a couple of steps, and argue that, because teen pregnancy is much higher in the black and hispanic communities, that blacks and hispanics are much more likely to be incompetent or unfit parents.”

    Yep, they’re getting real close to sounding like the typical right wing conservative stereotype.

  26. Her parenting should be an issue!
    This wack job is preaching no sex ed in schools and does not even have enough sense to watch her own daughter!
    Hell, she cannot keep herself from getting pregnant either!
    She is uneducated!
    As for the crap that she stole Bidens spot light, that is because the media is giving her a free ride and not reporting any of the negative stuff! like the librarian she had fired or the brother in law she tried to have fired.
    The fact is this has been a ploy by the republicans to avoid the issues!
    The republicans do not deserve a third term!
    Whether you like Obama or not he is the right choice! Lets give someone else a chance to do something positive for this country!
    Vote democratic.

  27. Chloe,

    If I remember my “small town values” correctly “trash” would be the nicest thing they would call her.

    Spending many years in a very, very small town on the VA/WV border let me assure you they have many, many worse names for Obama’s mom because she’s white and his dad is black.

    There were two such girls in our small town and the “small town values” folks would refer to it as bestiality, call them mudsharks and many, many other things that would probably get me banned here just for repeating them.

  28. “Whether you like Obama or not he is the right choice!”

    Some choice – like would you prefer to have a firing squad or guillotine.

  29. That doesn’t only happen in a small town, ktc2, but I’m not sure why you’re telling me all that. I was saying that it’s wrong to judge her.

    I live in a small town myself. 7000 people. Moved away for a while to various cities for my job. Came back, though. It’s a nice town.

  30. “I’m sure everyone’s read the open letter from Anne Kilkenny…”

    Oh My God! Anne Kilkenny!

    You Bastards!

  31. “Vote democratic”

    tautology much?

  32. Here’s my real problem with Sarah Palin’s parenting.

    She knows her kid is pregnant.

    She gets asked to be VP.

    She knows in this political climate that her kid will get dragged through the gutter.

    How do you say yes to a nomination knowing that your kid will inevitably get publicly trashed?

    @MayorOmalleySuxs is YOUR ambition more important than your kids life and happiness? For Sarah Palin her ambition is clearly more important than her family.

    That’s my issue with her parenting.

    FWIW, Biden should have left the senate after his wife was killed.

  33. James Butler wrote: “On that note … her first-born is named “Track” and her last-born is named “Trig”. Doesn’t that count as child abuse, in some circles?”

    Perhaps, but not as much as naming your child “James.”

    Especially if it’s your daughter.

  34. OK, this thread has convinced me that Ayn Rand was right when she stated that libertoonists are “a pack of drooling dumb-fucks” or words to that effect.

  35. How Biden or Palin raise their kids is really none of our damn business. The fact that this is a churning issue is ridiculous. It is tabloid nonsense. Rack them, if you will, on their political issues and track record, but leave their families out of it.

    For example, look at George H. W. Bush: his son was a screw-up, and yet his son still managed to become president–twice. Oh, wait, this isn’t helping…nevermind.

  36. Came back, though. It’s a nice town.

    You live in a small town? That doesn’t sound very cosmotarian. Why might have to review your membership here…

  37. “a condom wrapped on a cucumber”

    No wonder sex-ed works. There’s going to be some disappointed bitches there. Why not wrap a condom around a fucking pony you emasculating cocksuckers.

  38. “How Biden or Palin raise their kids is really none of our damn business. The fact that this is a churning issue is ridiculous.”

    Her supporters are crowing about how she is a new kind of politician, able to govern while raising a family, etc. You can’t claim that as a positive and then also complain when people ask how the parenting and governing is going.

  39. the open letter from Anne Kilkenny

    v. 80% approval rating.

    In a widely quoted 2006 survey she answered during her gubernatorial campaign, Palin said she supported abstinence-until-marriage programs. But weeks later, she proclaimed herself “pro-contraception” and said condoms ought to be discussed in schools alongside abstinence.

    How is this a “flip-flop?” Is the opposing position that once you mention condoms you shouldn’t also teach about abstinence? Which is, after all, more reliable than birth control, particularly than with inexperienced couples using condoms?

    Note that I think abstinence-until-marriage is not very practical given that today that would often mean waiting ten or more years between puberty and marriage. But it is an alternative.

    I just have to laugh at you people who think having a 17 year old daughter who gets knocked up shows some kind of incompetence or unfitness on the part of the parents.

    My wife and I brought up our daughter in a Christian home with two involved parents and strong values. She never strayed from the straight and narrow.

    She was no preparation at all for our second daughter, who with the same upbringing pulled just about every stunt in the book. That one escaped her teen years only by the grace of God.

    Both of them turned into responsible adults.

    How do you say yes to a nomination knowing that your kid will inevitably get publicly trashed?

    As opposed to staying governor of Alaska knowing that your kid will inevitably get publicly trashed?

    This standard would eliminate 95% of all politicians.

    Her supporters are crowing about how she is a new kind of politician, able to govern while raising a family, etc.

    Really? How is this “new?” The only difference here is that so many are saying that a mother shouldn’t hold office while having problems with her kids who never said anything about fathers holding office while having problems with their kids.

    Personally, I was excited because she’s pro-gun, and closer to my preferences on a number of other issues.

  40. As opposed to staying governor of Alaska knowing that your kid will inevitably get publicly trashed?

    Sure right, because Alaska is a hotbed of media.

    The National Enquirer doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the kids of governors of really any state, let alone one as small as Alaska.

  41. Devoted to you.

    It’s night, the
    fall of an absent
    caprice leaves
    in the country
    a sullen behaviour,
    the sound of
    a fancy and
    always that care,
    like a beautiful
    fortune.

    Francesco Sinibaldi

  42. She may have increased spending as mayor, but she decreased it as governor – which is why many libertarians look fondly on her, when given more power she became more responsible.

    Besides, how are you ever to learn if you don’t make mistakes? It seems pretty clear from a number of things that her time as mayor led her to become more libertarian and aganst government spending, not less. Just look at the platform she used to get elected governor and the much greater than normal degree to which she followed that platform once in office.

  43. When did this election become about Roe vs Wade, sex education and the parenting of our potential future leaders? What happened to the Iraq War and the abysmal economic state?

  44. What happened to the Iraq War and the abysmal economic state?

    As willing enablers for both of those problems, the Democrats have decided not to bring them up. Talking about them would mean bashing Biden instead of Palin. So they’re off limits.

  45. wonders why it’s OK for Joe Biden to brag about his parenting skills while Sarah Palin is expected to tiptoe around the issue of her own.

    A dilemma based on a false premise.

  46. “Hell, she cannot keep herself from getting pregnant either!”

    Hey jerk, maybe she likes human beings and doesn’t go to extremes to make sure they aren’t created. Maybe she and her husband just love their family and didn’t mind an addition.

    At least there is a logical basis for being against abortion. If a fetus is a human then it has rights that need to be protected. If it is not then abortion is fine. Being against childbirth is just crap.

  47. thedifferentphil,

    You have a good point. I guess if they are going to make that bed, they have to lay in it.

    To me, it’s all smoke and mirrors, detracting the focus from real issues.

  48. her parenting is an issue for us to the extent that it reflects her Medieval philosophies of biology and how they are reflected in her entirely un-reasoned philosophies of the State.

    it’s time for libertarians to wake up and stop the mental exercises justifying the bizarre totalitarian, Nationalist impulses of social conservatives.

  49. The NY Times reports: “Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.”

    So now we know how she does it.

  50. So Palin knows how to telecommute. That makes her somehow LESS desirable as a candidate? She’s more technically knowledgeable than Obama – and working from home is better than going into the office and voting “present”.

  51. “But considering how Palin wants the government to control what you do in your bedroom by punishing you with mandatory childbirth,…”

    This is how Marcotte defines government control of you do in the bedroom? Not allowing you to kill the results of your own decisions?

    It seems to me that some people are pro-choice because they are pissed off at God, nature, biology for the unfairness of tying sexual intercourse to reproduction. They want sex to be mere recreation and the reality of it’s purpose is something they’d prefer to ignore. Their reaction is a childish temper tantrum.

    Freedom means making your choices and accepting the consequences, be they desirable or undesirable to you. It does not mean that your choices be free of undesirable consequences. It does not mean that you have a right to harm another human being in order to avoid responsibilities you did not want.

  52. MJ, it’s that a lot of us don’t think a zygote is a “human life”. We also consider those who want to be pushing their definition down our throats to be imposing their religious views on us.

    Are you willing to allow vegans to dictate your eating habits because they think eating animal products is immoral? If not, then why not?

  53. In (crude)reference to the naming her newest son “Trig.”
    I don’t think it’s necessarily cruel or child abuse because isn’t he already a tard to begin with?
    That’s the one, right?

  54. “What happened to the Iraq War and the abysmal economic state?”

    It scares the hell out of me when someone equates the condition of “the economy” to a presidential contender. Even more so when this is in a libertarian forum.

    Libertarians are supposed to know better. Next we’ll be talking up Karl Marx.

  55. Three scenarios:

    1) 16-17 year-old gets pregnant, doesn’t know who the father is. Ropes some random schmoo into proposing.

    2) Teen gets pregnant by long term boyfriend. He’s willing to marry her.

    3)Teen gets pregnant by young fianc?.

    From my reading, I don’t think the Palin kid fits the first. The second is possible, but what I’ve been reading seems to indicate that the third is the case. If that’s so, where’s the scandal? That one wouldn’t even raise Queen Victoria’s eyebrow, though she would think public discussion of it vulgar.

    It also explains why Palin might not have brought it up; this kind of thing is normal, even among fairly strict Christians. It isn’t a scandal, much though the Democrats might like it to be.

    Even the Puritans let an affianced couple sleep in the same bed. They put a “bundling board” between the pair, but nobody expected THAT to stop teenagers for long. It was a token. And if first time mothers tended to bring their kids to term awfully fast, that was nobody’s business.

    I’m pretty sure Sarah Palin isn’t the devil incarnate. I’m pretty sure she isn’t the second coming either. And, come to that, she hasn’t claimed to be, either explicitly or by inference,

    Obama, on the other hand, has. Or has at least allowed images to be spread on his behalf that echo common popular images of the Christian Savior. He is, at the very least, unwise in this regard.

    He also is, as he proudly proclaims, a one time Community Organizer. A while back somebody on the left teed off on the right for attacking that, claiming that in their mouths it had become a code word for “Black”. In a way he was right, but not about the Conservative Right. Read Tom Wolf’s “Mau Mauing the Flack Catchers”; Comunity Organizer has LONG been a Left code word for “Black con man, thug, or gang leader that needs to e bought off”.

    Aaand let the denunciations begin……

  56. You can’t brag about your parenting skills when you don’t have any. Sarah Palin has exploited her children for political gain, even if it means setting her child up for a loveless marriage, but we’re supposed to say she’s a great mother. What happened to reason? Track Palin is reported to be a drug addict with a vandalism record. Nobody has explained why he had to leave Alaska for his senior year. We know the mess that Bristol Palin has made of her life. Few have mentioned that she has dropped out of school and was forced to lived with her aunt when Sarah kicked her out. When Sarah’s kids get difficult, she just sends them away. Everybody thought it was cute when little Piper smoothed Trig’s hair with spit. I was wondering why a five year old was watching the baby. (Also, if that had been Obama’s little girl, they would have said she had poor hygiene.)

    Once Sarah actually manages to raise a drug-free, pregnancy-free kid and send them off to college, I’ll call her a good parent.

  57. It’s amazing to me how christian conservatives are willing to twist every value they have in order to maintain power. Now, premarital sex is great? Working mothers who can’t keep track of their kids are great? Working for your community is bad because some black guy used to do it? Lying and manipulation are wonderful Christian values?

    If Sarah Palin becomes VP, I never want to hear another republican trash another teen mother (or her parents) or working mother again. Never.

  58. “Whether you like Obama or not he is the right choice!”

    Some choice – like would you prefer to have a firing squad or guillotine.

    ^- Guillotine. Barr is unfortunately another sad joke of a third candidate and his own campaign is laughable even in that context. I’d rather have nanny state than police state; it’s easier to get rid of a nanny than above-the-constitution paramilitary “protectors”. What are we gonna do except convince the drooling masses mommy is nicer than daddy and cross our fingers.

  59. “…it’s that a lot of us don’t think a zygote is a “human life”.”

    Then you ignore scientific act for your own convenience. It is simply a truth that a human zygote is an individual human organism.

    Positing the existance of human rights is a moral stance, and morals are inextricably intertwined with religion. The abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement had religious foundations. I suppose 150 years ago you would have defended slavery on the basis of not having someone’s religious beliefs shoved down your throat?

  60. “A cucumber? Wow, St. V, we just used a banana. Now, are we talking long English? =P”

    Some of us are just a bit more endowed. 😉

  61. I think issues like these confirm the Reps wisdom of choosing Palin as a running-mate to John McCain. She can generate much sustained commotion in the quintessential American political mid-brain, where the sense of smell rules. The promise of Palin course is that she smells good !

  62. RE: Positing the existance of human rights is a moral stance, and morals are inextricably intertwined with religion.

    Bull Shit.

  63. Well, if her kid Trig is named after trigonometry, I don’t like him.

  64. “MJ | September 15, 2008, 7:38am | #
    “…it’s that a lot of us don’t think a zygote is a “human life”.”

    Then you ignore scientific act for your own convenience. It is simply a truth that a human zygote is an individual human organism.

    Positing the existance of human rights is a moral stance, and morals are inextricably intertwined with religion. The abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement had religious foundations. I suppose 150 years ago you would have defended slavery on the basis of not having someone’s religious beliefs shoved down your throat?”

    Biologically a human, sure. But ethically a person, no. In my accounting, at least, personhood comes from conciousness and understanding. Once a fetus is aware of its existence, it has rights. Until then, it doesn’t. The fact that it has a human genetic code doesn’t matter very much to me in terms of ethics. This is a democracy, so I’ll go along with whatever definition of personhood arises out of the democratic process, but it’s simply not true that the only ethically responsible choice is to treat a zygote like a full fledged person.

  65. Yes – If Track Palin spent 2 years injecting Oxycontin while living under her roof, that is a legit issue.

  66. It’s been interesting to watch Focus on the Family and all the other sex-obsessed religious right groups tie themselves into knots on this one. If the 17-year old unmarried mother had been the daughter of a Democratic (not to mention black) candidate, that creepy Dobson character would have gone up in flames like a burning bush. Now, of course, all we hear is “observing the privacy of the family during this difficult time — let us all pray — Christian charity and humility — blah blah blah.”

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