Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sarah Palin's Outrageous Hypocrisy on Teen Sex

From AlterNet, Matt Taibbi opines on Sarah Palin's Jerry Springer family and its political ramifications:

What does it take to get discredited as a moralizing right-wing ”family values” merchant these days?

It was one thing when we found out that super-religious governor Palin was letting Bristol’s hunkface beef accessory Levi nail her daughter more or less regularly under the family roof. It was another when we found out that the governor’s sister-in-law got popped for a B&E while her little daughter was waiting outside in the car. And it was still another thing when we found out that Levi’s Mom was going to eat a bust for dealing Oxycontin


But beyond that, Bristol’s casual statement about deciding not to get married after all, about how it would have been a disaster, I just don’t get how this works, politically. How can a Republican presidential candidate (and let’s not fool ourselves, Sarah Palin is already that) publicly endorse unwed teen mothering? Am I missing something?

More here.

Of course, that last question, "Am I missing something?", is simply rhetorical. Taibbi knows that the whole right-wing "family values" thing has always been an extraordinarily problematic position to take for its champions. I mean, you know, even though I have no doubt that most of the people who push fundamentalist Christian "family values" try as hard as they can to actually believe what they're saying, we all live in the real world, liberal and conservative alike, and we all have to live with real world issues whether we want to or not.

The pastor who baptized me when I was twelve would preach, from time to time, about how sinful divorce is. Or rather, how sinful remarriage is--divorce is permissible, if absolutely necessary, but marrying again is tantamount to adultery. When I was in my early twenties, his son, who is about a year younger than me, got married; my old preacher performed the ceremony. A few years after that, for whatever reasons, his son's marriage failed, and, like most married Americans at some point in their lives, he got a divorce. I knew this guy well. He was, and I'm sure continues to be, a devout Southern Baptist, and more importantly, he was one of the good ones, who honestly tried to treat people in a loving Christlike way. I'm sure he did everything he could to persevere in his troubled union. But this is the real world, and it didn't work out. But no big deal. Happens all the time. A few years later, he fell in love again, and got married again. Now this is gossip I heard through some of my old church connections, so take it with a grain of salt, but my understanding is that his father presided over the second ceremony, essentially blessing what he had preached was adultery.

I do not condemn this as hypocrisy. Indeed, I laud the turnaround. I have no idea what kind of philosophical shift was needed in order to turn "adultery" into blessed union, but I wholeheartedly approve of this shift. And, knowing this pastor as I once did, I'm certain that there actually was a philosophical transformation: the father, like the son, is one of those good Southern Baptists, earnest and honest, loving and kind. He would never act in a way that is inconsistent with his beliefs. Rather, he was hit in the face by a strong dose of reality, and wisely adjusted his thinking.

But his example is the exception that proves the rule. Most "family values" folk are seemingly incapable of adjusting their attitudes in the face of reality. And when the real world proves them wrong, they wallow in absurdity trying to rationalize away the contradictions. Fallen televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart or Ted Haggard, right-wing bloviators like drug addict Rush Limbaugh or gambling addict William Bennett, closeted gay Republican politicians like US Representative Mark Foley or Senator Larry Craig, all these people have made utter fools of themselves attempting to adhere to their "family values" positions in the face of their utterly contradictory actions.

The same thing happens every day to ordinary rank-and-file socially conservative Americans.

You know, I spend a lot of time excoriating these "family values" types, for the damage they do to America with their foolish rhetoric, for their hypocrisy, for their self-righteousness. I spend far too little time feeling sorry for them. Because a lot of them are totally miserable.