Let me begin by clearly stating my biases — I like the Palins. They are dear family friends. My wife, Nancy, worked with Sarah on her most recent book, she worked with Bristol on her book, she edits Bristol’s blog on Patheos, and I represented Bristol in a lawsuit — when a man sued her after he profanely accosted her at a bar. (He lost.) In the years since my wife first flew to Wasilla to meet the Palins and work with Bristol, I’ve seen just a fraction of the non-stop hatred and vitriol directed at the family.
Much of the hatred is quite public — and publicized. Imagine, for a moment, how you’d feel if a hostile journalist quite literally moved next door to monitor your family. Then there are the periodic stalkers — including one who recently invaded Bristol’s home. Like many celebrities, the Palins live in a world where people can make money by selling rumors about them. And the press is all-too-eager to humiliate them.
So, while it hasn’t been much noted in conservative press, it should surprise no one that the liberal side of the Internet has virtually melted down over the news that Bristol Palin is pregnant. Crowing over the unwed pregnancy of an “abstinence advocate,” many on the left aren’t letting the facts — or their alleged principles — get in the way of a good mocking. To be very clear, while Bristol has said that she aspired to abstinence herself after becoming pregnant as a teen and experiencing the challenges of teen motherhood, she’s also advocated both abstinence and birth control as means of preventing teen pregnancy — even cutting a Public Service Announcement with an MTV reality star where she supported abstinence, he supported contraception, and they agreed that both methods kept kids from having kids.
This nuance is of course lost in the avalanche of mockery, always justified by the ever-present reminder that, “She has a blog” or “She puts herself in the public eye” — as if rules of decency simply no longer apply if you appear on television or write on the Internet. Yet it’s always worth remembering that the Left’s principles are situational, as the Palins know better than most.
Crowing over the unwed pregnancy of an ‘abstinence advocate,’ many on the Left aren’t letting the facts — or their alleged principles — get in the way of a good mocking.
Remember how it’s important to #BelieveAllWomen when they tell stories of date rape or sexual assault? Not when the woman in question is Bristol Palin. When she wrote in her book of her first, drunken encounter with Levi Johnston, noted sex columnist Dan Savage wrote, “It’s just that Bristol’s story — which comes so long after her two broken engagements to Levi — is the kind of self-exonerating bullshit that scared teenagers offer up to parents and other authority figures when it’s just their good-girl reputations and saving-myself-for-marriage self-images that are on the line.”
Remember how it’s beyond the pale to joke about violence against women? Yet when taped evidence emerged that Bristol was physically beaten at a party and dragged through the mud by her attacker, CNN’s Carol Costello called the police recording of a hysterically crying Bristol “quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across” and urged readers to “sit back and enjoy.”
Remember when Rush Limbaugh was so out of bounds for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” that President Obama himself called to see if she was okay? Well, Bristol is still waiting for the president’s call after his million-dollar-donor Bill Maher crassly declared years ago that Bristol was “f***ked so hard, a baby fell out.”
But few things top Gawker’s latest – a piece declaring that Bristol “made a great argument for abortion” when she announced her second pregnancy. That announcement, which expressed the pain of letting down family and friends, also declared her resolve and her trust in God, ending with “Tripp, this new baby, and I will all be fine, because God is merciful.”
As we ponder this level of hate, it’s worth remembering the Original Sin that put Sarah, Bristol, and the entire family in the Left’s crosshairs — in 2008, Sarah Palin stood in the way of The One. For a very brief time, after McCain selected Palin as his running mate and after Palin’s convention speech, McCain actually pulled ahead of Obama.
Palin, the key to McCain’s resurgence, had to be destroyed. It’s not worth recounting here the avalanche of lies and vitriol that poured down on Governor Palin. I’ve followed politics for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like the combination of leftist hate and Republican-insider betrayal that Sarah Palin endured. The attacks went beyond politics to include a targeted effort to financially ruin the Palin family.
After Obama won in 2008, Palin didn’t do what the Left demanded — slink off, defeated, into obscurity. Instead, she (and Bristol) used their public platforms to continue to advocate for their beliefs and values. So the destruction continues, and it will continue until the Left gets what it wants — which is for the Palins to simply “go away.”
The Christian experience so often means trying, failing, and repenting. We don’t all fail in the same ways, but we all fail. Sometimes, we even fail to try. The grace of God gives us not just the humility to acknowledge failure and disappointment but also the resolve to face an uncertain or intimidating future. I’ve admired Bristol and the rest of her family for enduring hatred I can’t imagine confronting in my own life, and I’ve appreciated Bristol’s longstanding willingness to publicly and honestly own up to her own failings.
Despite the Left’s best efforts, Bristol has actually built a large and loyal following, people who mainly appreciate her strong voice for life. So, no, she’s not “going away.” In true Palin fashion, she’ll persevere — and if the Left doesn’t like it, they don’t have to watch.
— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.