Daddies, Mommies, Politicians and Double Standards:
I was driving my baby daughter Eden to her four-month doctor
appointment this morning, when I heard reporter Anne Korblut of the Washington
Post on The Diane Rehm show defending the media's coverage of Sarah Palin and
her family. She said something along the lines of, "If Barack Obama had a
four-month-old special needs baby, and a seventeen year-old pregnant daughter,
I'd be the first to ask whether this is the right time for him to be running for
Balderdash! Obama has two daughters, one born in 1998, the other
in 2001. Even if we acknowledge that mommies tend to do more of the parenting
than daddies, can we all agree that little girls need their daddies, and that
fathering little girls creates some moral obligation to spend time with them?
Since January 2005, Obama's family has lived in Chicago, while he
initially spent much of his time in D.C. working as a Senator, and then, since
last Spring, he has spent almost all of his time on the road campaigning. I'd be
surprised if he's seen his kids more than once a month during campaign
Does this make Obama a less-than-ideal father? You bet it does. But
he's not running for Father of the Year, he's running for president. So it's
entirely proper that this has NOT been a political issue.
Enter Sarah Palin.
If any reporter, Anne Kornblut or otherwise, has asked Obama how he feels about
not participating in the raising of his children on a day-to-day basis, or what
will happen when he's president if one his girls is sick in the middle of the
night and is calling for daddy (as people have asked about Palin), I've missed
I agree that it's hypocritical of the "traditional values" crowd to
suddenly lionize Palin, when they've been arguing for years that a mother's
place is with her small children. (Dr. Laura, to her credit, has been consistent
on this, and is duly critical of the Palin pick.)
But for the media to claim
that there's no double-standard in how they treat Palin's family obligations and
how they treat Obama's (or other male politicians, for that matter) just can't
withstand scrutiny. Either it's okay to delegate one's parenting
responsibilities to pursue political ambitions, or it's not.
I do disagree on one point: maybe some traditionalists think that it should be the woman that stays home, but I'll bet that most just want someone to stay home. Surely in the White House, Todd would stay home with the kids at least most of the time, so I don't see a problem there.
And moreover, John Edwards' wife is dying. If he had become president (and we're putting aside the issue of the affair, since we didn't know anything about it at the time), there is a good chance that she would have died while he was in office. They have two small children, who would have no mother at all in this case (and would surely be pretty distraught to boot). But I never heard anyone, anyone discuss or dare to ask what would happen in that case- whether Edwards would be too distracted to pursue his duties. Why? Because Edwards has a penis.