Unless you have seen it first first-hand, as part of the press scrum or as a campaign staffer, it is almost impossible to imagine how grueling the process of running for national office is. Everybody gets exhausted. The candidates have to answer questions and offer views roughly 18 hours a day, and any misstatement on any topic can get them in trouble.
Yes, the race for the US presidency in 2008 is one of the toughest jobs in the world. The final stretch of the campaign? Challenging can't be the word for it. In Palin's case, it will be especially tough. Fallows explains, "If someone is campaigning for the presidency or vice presidency, there's an extra twist. That person has to have a line of argument to offer on any conceivable issue." Palin will have the steepest of learning curves. She needs lots of coaching, concerning every issue: from Iraq to China to the ins-and-outs of health insurance.
The final stretch of the race for the presidency sounds even harder than that other marvel of human existance: pulling off what mothers achieve in caring for an infant.
How is it, one wonders, that Sarah Palin has come to the conclusion that she can to do both?
Palin of course, is the mother of a baby named Trig born on 18 April 2008. As every mother knows, it is a tough job -- I think most would say it's more than a full-time job -- taking care of a newborn child. But in the case of Palin's child, Trig, there will be special challenges. Because Trig has Downs Syndrome it is likely little Trig will require some extra attention. It is not as if Palin has prior experience raising such a child.
Tell me, how can Palin do it? The most difficult stretch of the most grueling race on earth, plus the steep learning curve, plus having a newborn, plus addressing the special-needs requirements of Trig? How?
The answer, of course, is that compromises will be made. Today, Palin spoke before a campaign banner that read "Country First." But can Palin -- under the circumstances -- really put Country First? I have some female Jotman readers to thank for raising this question (see this post). Here is what these readers have said:
A female Jotman reader wrote:
Seeing her parade onto the stage with her family struck me as pathetic - who gets to raise that tiny baby? - I can't believe women will react sympathetically to her. Women just don't react well to a woman who sacrifices her family for her career. Bringing up children is hard enough but the challenges of handling a Downs syndrome child is something else again. I am dumbfounded.Another woman commented:
Running around the country and promoting John McSames outdated, out of touch and unrealistic values and ideals does not speak well of her dedication to raising a special needs child. Isn't she still breast feeding this child?And then this woman chimed in:
I am so glad someone else feels this way! While with some difficulty I can not comment on the choice to have a child with downs syndrome, I am apalled at this vice-presidential run choice. A child need as much time from both parents as possible during the early years!!! Beeing a commited working mom of two little ones I am beyong stupefied that someone can opt for the campaign trail and yet dream of espousing family values!!!What do you think? Is Sarah Palin attempting to do too much? Is it ethical? Is Palin's family life and baby really any of our business?
Update: There are new allegations about the baby.