Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pawns and Shields


It was just over a year ago when I first heard Sarah Palin refer to herself as a “Mama Grizzly”. Today it is her platform. Along with “pink elephants” (do these people not think to check the history of phrases like tea bagging and pink elephants before they use them) Sarah says that “Mama Grizzlies” -- aka pissed off mamas -- will be marching into power to take back America from the socialists she hates. Granted, she never presents better ideas, or any ideas for that matter. What she gives us is an emotional tug as her platform. Being a mom is and has always been her platform. I’m a mom of five -- one a “chosen” special needs baby and one a pregnant teen -- vote for me. She is a mom. She tackled jobs as mayor and governor as a mom to infants under the desk. Wow. What a symbol of feminism. A working mom. She is a mom. And not just any mom: she’s a mama grizzly who protects her young. She’s a mom.
So if that’s how she defines herself, why can’t we talk about her choices as a mom? Why, if we talk about her as a mom, does she twist it into we are talking about her kids? Tricky move, Palin. You see, she sets herself up as a mom so that we can’t challenge her without being accused of going after her family. It’s because she uses her children as pawns and shields.
The first time I recall the “Mama Grizzly” reference was when David Letterman made a wide-arching joke about Bristol Palin. At the time, Bristol was an adult making the circuit telling her story about getting pregnant while an unmarried teen. Everyone who heard the joke KNEW it was about Bristol. But Sarah Palin decided to warp the joke to mean it was about her 14-year-old daughter, Willow, and rape. So what she did was plant the idea of her young daughter getting raped in the minds of Americans. David Letterman didn’t make me think of Willow being raped, but Sarah did. Why? So she could have a public feud with a talk show host. That’s all. It wasn’t about young women and rape (just look into the Wasilla policy that charged women for their own rape kits while she was mayor). But because the issue was so touchy, we couldn’t make too big of a deal about Sarah’s use of Willow as a pawn and a shield without appearing as if we condoned the rape of girls.
Now, it’s true that every politician parades their families in front of cameras to show their family values. Palin is no different there. So having her children at the announcement of her as McCain’s running mate wasn’t a big deal. Trying to hide her daughter’s bump – not a big deal. But when internet sites started focusing on the Alaska scuttlebutt of Bristol’s pregnancy, what did Mama Grizzly do? She told the world her daughter was an unmarried teen. Considering what the right-wing media did to Jamie Lynn Spears (younger sister of Britney, who got pregnant as a teen and faced the wrath of Fox News) I would think a Mama Grizzly would have declined the McCain offer and considered what the campaign would do to her daughter. But no. She threw her daughter to the wolves! She MADE her daughter a target of gossip and judgment and at the same time criticized anyone who tried discussing the relevancy of this to a “no sex ed in schools” candidate. We couldn’t even mention Sarah’s hypocrisy without being accused of being mean to Bristol. Again, you can’t talk about Sarah as a mother without her twisting it into an assault on her pawn and shield, oops, I mean child.
And then there’s “retard”. And by that, I mean a word. The word retard means to slow or delay. It does not mean Downs Syndrome. It does not mean Trig Palin. I, personally, do not like to use the word “retard” as a pejorative, having worked with special needs kids and knowing the negative connotation behind its use. When Rahm Emanuel used the word, it had NOTHING to do with Trig Palin yet Sarah Palin made it all about her son. When people in her own party used it, she was silent. She politicized her son. She used him as a pawn and shield. And as of this posting all she has publicly done for kids with special needs is make some speeches and small donations. Is that the advocacy she promised? I'd like someone in the "lame-stream media" to ask her about it but no one will because of the pawn and shield game.
But let’s get to the real issue that everyone is afraid to discuss because she made it impossible to do so. The woman who made being a mother one of the top three things that qualifies her to speak for “real Americans” in whatever capacity she’s considering, has not been challenged on what may be THE choice that should define her. I am not talking about her “choice” to have a special needs baby despite the false claims on the right that a liberal would have aborted. I am talking about her “choice” to get on a plane and fly from Texas to Alaska, while in her 40’s, having had two miscarriages and in PRE-TERM LABOR (including leaking amniotic fluid and contractions per her interviews and her auto-biography starting on page 193 of Going Rogue) with a baby known to have Downs Syndrome, without being seen by a doctor.
She awoke early in the morning feeling weird, leaking and having contractions. She was worried enough to call her doctor all the way over in Alaska and pray for the unborn baby. Yet, she didn’t go to a hospital to make sure the baby was safe. Instead she gave a speech and got on a plane.
What kind of “Mama Grizzly” does that? But we aren’t allowed to talk about it because that’s somehow an affront to Trig. No. The affront to Trig was when she decided to risk his life for… for… for I don’t even know what.
So, now that she has released her “Mama Grizzly” video, void of solutions to our problems, can we NOW ask questions about her “choices” as a mom? NOW can we ask her how protective she was being on “The Wild Ride”? Or would that be one more attack on her child? NOW can we ask her why she chose to put her daughters in the national spotlight over controversial issues for political gain?
This isn’t about her kids and it never was. This is about Sarah Palin. And it’s time we reminded her of that and it’s time the media realized that and asked some damn questions.
We aren’t after the pawns and shields.
We’re after the Mama Grizzly.


Anonymous said...

Excellent Broadway Carl! Nice to see someone else exposing the Grizzly Sow for what she is! Have you ever been to Palingates?

Broadway Carl said...

Actually, you have JHW22 to thank for this post.

Thanks, Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, very insightful. The support you cite for your opinions is very strong, making your post tough to argue against. Although I may have some bias, I find that once again because of your keen observations of and understanding about our political world, you have nailed another crazy behavior by a wingnut.

I would like to add a thought about risking Trig's life for "I don't even know what"-how about fame and adoration, which I think are more important than money to her.

Thanks, Carl, for offering your platform. Just hope more read it.

Desert Crone

jhw22 said...

Yes, those are the possible why's. And there are even more potential why's. Too many to say for sure. Maybe someone in the media will nail her on this and we'll have a better understanding.


Janie said...

nicely done and compelling.

Mama Grizzly = Mama Grisly (as in horror show grisly)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jennifer and Broadway Carl! Came to your post via Palingates.

mxm said...

Great to find your blog. Jennifer, love your well articulated position on the mama grizzly brand. It is theater and you nailed its purpose.