America by Heart – Chapter 4, Raising (Small-r) Republicans, Part 1
We’ve made it to chapter four, and there is no rest for the weary. This chapter, while mostly non-political, is maddening nonetheless. And while we get a blissful reprieve from the Founding Fathers, and Milton Friedman and Alexis de Tocqueville, we will find ourselves being irritated with Helen Keller. We will not hold a grudge for very long, though. How can you stay mad at Helen Keller?
This chapter will require the use of an extra piece of equipment, you should be warned. In addition to the usual Maalox (or Pepto Bismol, your choice), adult beverage, and helmet to avoid head bang injury, you’ll want to dig up a whiplash collar for the end when our author spins wildly out of control bouncing like a pinball between abortion, Alger Hiss, excessive government control and proof of God.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Her family is her “true north.” They are what keep her… “sane.”
(Sometimes the snark just writes itself)
“For me, the rule is put your family first.”
When she was little they went on a backpacking trip and her dad took everyone’s load so the kids could enjoy themselves, while he sacrificed his own comfort.
(If he had made them carry their own stuff, I’m sure we would have heard how that taught them the value of work, and taught them to take care of themselves and not to get used to being coddled like leftist nanny-state liberals who hate America.)
She remembers how much her dad sacrificed, and his backpack burden when she feels overwhelmed by making peanut butter sandwiches and spending almost 20 years lugging around a diaper bag.
“Self-described feminists talk a lot about how family and children hold women back and limit their professional choices… But in my case, precisely the opposite is true.”
(The kids proved useful for her career, I guess.)
Todd is super awesome. He is her partner in every conceivable way. “If you want to get anything done in this life, it’s helpful to have a First Dude.”
(Remember that, girls. A First Dude. Very helpful.)
“During the vice-presidential campaign, people would ask me how I could expect to balance it all if we won the White House. I thought, They really don’t get it. I don’t balance anything. We do it together. And if we’d won, we would have done the White House like we do everything else: as a team.”
(“Done the White House?” I wonder if John and Cindy McCain realized that they would have had roommates? Because usually, Vice Presidents live in the Admiral’s House at the Naval Observatory. Either that or somebody wanted to move up and had some “special plans” for Gramps when the Secret Service wasn’t looking. *Note to 2012 voters – if you are actually going to vote for Sarah Palin, you’re getting Todd too. Oh, goodie.)
Having a family teaches you that “the sun doesn’t rise and set around you.”
(An ongoing lesson, apparently…)
The Palin family is no different from others.
When her “then-seventeen-year-old daughter” told her she was pregnant “our little world stopped spinning momentarily.” The shock came because Bristol was getting good grades, and playing basketball, and chairing the Junior Prom committee, and working in the local coffee shop and Sarah thought “she’d be too busy for anything else.”
(News flash – sometimes it doesn’t take that long.)
The excuse for why family didn’t come first this time? Get ready, it’s a doozie.
“I was in Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, during my oldest daughter’s junior year of high school.”
Juneauites might beg to differ, and I’m reasonably certain that any of them reading this now are chuckling aloud. In case anyone needs a reminder, here’s a summary from The Washington Post from September 8, 2008.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.
“Preoccupied with the enormous job of being governor of the nation’s largest state, juggling schedules around Todd’s job fifteen hundred miles away in the North Slope oil fields, saluting (and worrying about) our son’s decision to enlist as an infantryman in the U.S. Army, and busy with our younger kids while wrapping my arms around the fact that we’d soon be joined by our newest family member, Trig, I assumed that Bristol was making only wise decisions while staying with my sister in Anchorage.”
Whew! That’s a whole lotta blame there. Let’s see.. (counting on fingers)
It’s Alaska’s fault because it’s really big
It’s the state’s fault because the governor’s job is “enormous”
It’s Todd’s fault for keeping a job 1500 miles away while his kids were farmed out to relatives – family first!
It’s the future combat veteran Track’s fault because he made her worry
It’s Willow and Piper’s fault because she was somehow busy with them
It was unborn Trig’s fault, or Todd’s fault for getting her pregnant
It was her sister’s fault for not keeping an eye on Bristol
And it was Bristol’s fault for not making wise decisions at seventeen years old
That was eight fingers, if you were keeping track. Nine if you count Trig and Todd separately.
So now that you know it really wasn’t her fault… She’ll be the bigger person and “kick” herself. (In addition to everyone else.)
Levi wasn’t there until the end of Bristol’s labor, so Sarah had to help deliver the baby and cut the umbilical cord herself. (Even though Dad was apparently there by then, the umbilical cord usually coming last if I recall)
It didn’t take long before Bristol and Levi figured out that it was no fun being teenage parents. But Bristol went to college and suffered sleepless nights and long, lonely, cold car rides to the babysitter (No heat?)
“Of course we all had to bite our tongues – more than once – as Tripp’s father went on a media tour through Hollywood and New York, spreading untruths and exaggerated rhetoric. It was disgusting to watch as his fifteen minutes of fame were exploited by supposed adults taking advantage of a lost kid.”
(Funny, I don’t seem to remember the biting of the tongue.. Was that on Oprah? Or the statements from Meg Stapleton? Or are you talking about NOW.)
Now that Levi has been eviscerated, she tells us that their “hearts broke for him and the price he would pay.” But their sorrow was mixed with “justifiable anger.” It was really hard on Track the patriotic combat veteran in Iraq to read about all the hideous lies being spread about his family, while he was in a war zone and unable to do anything about it. It’s a good thing he was there though, because she knows that Track would have wanted to “clobber” Levi. (We could have added aggravated assault to the list.)
And it was hard on Willow too. And Piper lost her innocence. Sarah was embarrassed also, because you know they were just a “normal family” and stuff like this wasn’t supposed to happen to them. Why, she and Todd had to use everything they had, not to “lash out” at Levi. (Again… not remembering the restraint.)
She even thought for a moment that it wasn’t worth it and that they should just slink away to Wasilla and stop “feeding the media beast.” She wanted to just give her family a break…. (YES! Do it! Do it! Family first! You said so yourself!!)
… but then she read an inspirational quote from Helen Keller (I swear I am not making this up) about how character can only be developed through trial and suffering, and she was inspired to continue.
(Thanks a LOT Helen Keller)
It’s been two years of apologies, and accepting those “assumed sincere” apologies, and “struggling to atone,” bla bla bla. But they’re all a better, stronger happier Palin family now. Hooray.
Some friend of hers told her a bunch of smack that an anonymous blogger said about her and told her to “hang in there… surely your reward is in heaven!”
“I looked at her like she was an idiot, grinning through clenched teeth as I assured her we’d definitely “hang in there.” But at that particular moment, I thought, I’d rather God keep the reward that may await in the hereafter. I’d rather have peace on earth for my daughter than an extra ruby in my crown.”
But, hey, everyone has troubles. You may not have a pregnant teenager eviscerated by the media wolves, but she’s sure you’ve got something. And if you aren’t struggling now, you should help someone who is.
Everybody thinks their baby is a miracle, but to others it’s just a screaming baby.
Excerpt from The Onion: “Miracle of Birth Occurs for the 83 Billionth Time” (Actually funny.)
Every child is a gift of life.
She doesn’t make a practice of quoting herself, but she’s going to make an exception and quote from Going Rogue. (You know, I never thought I’d miss Going Rogue, but frankly I’d rather be reading that one. Hell, I’d rather be reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.)
“On April 20, 1989 my life truly began. I became a mom.” (That was her quoting herself)
She became a better person. Her heart grew. It’s not about her. There was pain and joy. She became vulnerable. She became more open.
Story by Tony Woodlief about how parents love all their children equally.
“It’s the quantity of time we spend – not the quality – that’s best for our kids.” Busy parents like to comfort themselves by thinking they can make up for time they don’t spend with their kids by having quality time, but they can’t.
Fred Barnes, the editor of The Weekly Standard agrees.
Woody Allen says that 90% of fatherhood is just showing up.
God must exist because you couldn’t have possibly created a baby. “Something more powerful and more loving is at work here.”
She remembers a commercial with running, laughing children and a voiceover that said, “All these children have something in common. All of them were unplanned pregnancies that could have ended in abortion. But their parents toughed it out and discovered that sometimes the best things in life aren’t planned.”
That’s the problem with government today. “By asserting more and more government control over us, it actually disrespects our humanity.”
(COGNITIVE DISSONANCE ALERT!
Government trying to exert control over us also bad…
I have NO earthly clue how these two things appear next to each other with no transitional thought, but trust me, they do and there is no connection I can see that she was going for. Just right from one to the other. Maybe the editors figured nobody would get this far. Or maybe they quit half way through…)
Stopping global warming and the rise of the oceans, and “healing the planet” is politics posing as religion.
(Seriosly. They quit. And I don’t blame them. They just threw the manuscript up in the air and walked out.)
“It’s the love we have for a child that has the potential, more than anything else, to expose all the utopian promises of men for the lies that they are.”
(Make it stop!!! Editors come back! Don’t leave me here. I’m afraid!!)
When Malia Obama asked her dad if he had “plugged the hole” of the Gulf oil spill yet, it was sweet. But it should serve as a parable for us that we are not children and Barack Obama is not our father. Sometimes government can’t do anything and shouldn’t even try. (I dunno. Enforcing stricter regulation might be a start. Just throwing it out there.)
We are fallible and fallen, just like Whittaker Chambers who used to be a communist and turned in Alger Hiss. Communism used to be his religion but he denounced communism and found God.
(Does anyone have a whiplash collar? Or a Xanax?)
Whittaker Chambers had a revelatory moment looking at his young daughter and “the delicate convolutions of her ear – those intricate, perfect ears.” He knew that those ears were not created by chance like the communists said. Ears could only have been created by God.
Families bring us closer to God and they bring God closer to communities. When you have a child you become invested in the world.
I thought I was going to make it through the whole chapter in one sitting, but it’s not going to happen. I feel like a runner going up hill on a hot day, and the cool grass looks just too inviting. So I’m just going to lie here under a tree for a while and gasp for air until I don’t feel like I’m going to have a stroke.
While we’re looking for proof of God, if I might be so bold as to make a suggestion… Any time that any particular deity out there might want to spontaneously burst this book into flames, I wouldn’t complain. Not to tell you what to do or anything… I know you’re busy. Even busier and more important than the governor of the biggest state in the country. But it’s been a while since the whole burning bush thing, so if you felt like having another go at it, feel free at any time. Really.
Next time… (barring spontaneous combustion) Chapter 4 Raising (Small-r) Republicans, Part 2.