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September 6, 2008

Poster Mom

Trig1

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Nancy Iannone, a Democrat and mother of Gabrielle, 3, who has Down syndrome, said that she was so thrilled to see Trig on stage that she had to remind herself: “I am a liberal. I am a liberal. I am a liberal.” Ms. Palin, she said, “has a child with a disability, but that doesn’t mean her party is disability friendly.”  — from NYT article on Palin and special needs.  7/7/08.

In presupposing what kind of advocate a Vice President Palin would be for the mentally disabled, Newsweek helps visually fortify the GOP’s cynical exploitation of family and motherhood.

In making the leap, Newsweek undermines the process of the moment, which is to actually get beneath the ideological spin to flesh out an understanding of who Palin is.  Under the guise of a “Special Education” feature, all Newsweek accomplishes with this home page promo is to dish up an almost irresistible, heart-warming but 2-D empathy generator transforming Sarah Palin into poster Mom for Down Syndrome.

(image: Susan Walsh/AP)

  • gypsy howell

    So, what exactly does she plan to DO for families with special needs children? According to GOP dogma, it surely wouldn’t involve expansion of government programs for the disabled, would it? Unless of course, it involves that other bit of GOP dogma- taxmoney money for me but not for thee.

  • Julie L

    Perhaps I can answer Gypsy’s question with this, from Sandy on Signal via 10,000 Monkeys and a Camera:
    Palin told families of special needs kids she would be our advocate in the White House. Since Palin became Governor of Alaska 18 months ago, she cut special education funding by 62%!!!! Wow. Who needs this kind of friend?
    Another thing, Alaska has no residential care like an Orange Grove Center for the severely autistic. Can you believe this? This means the disabled have to go live in the lower 48 which means they are cut off from their true families. All that oil money in Alaska, and nothing for the “least among us”.
    Remember, Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a Governor.

  • http://www.dailykos.com Julie L

    Here’s a link to that 10,000 Monkeys and a Camera post: http://blog.thorg.com/archives/2392

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    Thanks, Julie. And now the question is- will the Democrats raise that very fact (like so many thousands of others) that cuts to the very core of Republican hypocrisy. Hint: Probably with the same intensity and enthusiasm they supported the Kucinich list of 35 impeachable offenses…

  • Karen

    Look for this unmentioned (and maybe unmentionable) reaction.
    As a mom of little ones, I was very surprised to see this 4 & 1/2 month old baby kept up through the night for several hours at a loud, raucous convention with no headphones for protection. I think many moms will see that and think the baby is being used as a prop.
    Looks like bad judgment.

  • delfinajones

    This is just another desperate ploy by Peg Bundy to get Al to sleep with her. Moving to ALaska has changed nothing.

  • Samantha

    So the children are “off limits” and yet are to be used as props during the convention and appear on the cover of glossy magazines? And I’m sure if we comment about it, we’re putting their family under attack again? This is all Rove. The GOP are very good at it, and if our party thinks they can wait them out of the cave this time, they’re wrong. This is an emerging threat, not a dying administration. It’s time to answer to it.
    Like someone said, this is turning from a sideshow to actual propaganda. What right does Newsweek have to portray her as a hero to special ed kids when she’s done nothing to help them, and in fact has cut funding?

  • HarpoSnarx

    Reminds me of when Kelly Bundy wailed, “Help us!” to neighbor Marcy Darcy.
    Marcy replied, “I can’t. I’m a Republican.”
    Enough said.

  • http://www.doves2day.blogspot.com g

    I am not sure what effect it will have, but what strikes me is that they are dangerously blurring the lines between Governor Palin, VP candidate, and the image of the First Lady. It’s the kid thing, of course, but also the idea that they are connecting her with a “cause” like disabled children. Chief executives don’t identify with a social cause – their spouses do.
    It’s a very interesting thing – I think neither the media nor the campaign quite knows what to do with her. They keep lumping her in with the wives in photo ops, trotting out the kids, and then what does her spouse do other than stand there like a mute lump?

  • yesterday gone

    trig is what you name your dog.

  • Cactus

    What a sad, sad thing, to display that poor baby like that. And, while I’m no expert, doesn’t that baby look a little large for four plus months? Are they using that age so that it will definitely rule out the older daughter? It just gets weirder and weirder and more and more questionable. But then, isn’t it just so rovian to throw their lies in our faces and dare us to contradict them?

  • http://antwerp.wordpress.com Peter

    Belgians (thats the folks from Belgium, Europe guys) were stunned watching this picture.
    Did someone turn back the clock to the 50’s?
    Check Dow Syndrome on Wikipedia: “In 2006, the Center for Disease Control estimated the rate as one per 733 live births in the United States (5429 new cases per year)”
    Prenatal testing/screening in Belgiums prevents +90% of these tragedies from happening.
    What is wrong with these US religious fanatics and their need to put another tragically handicapped child on this planet.
    I find it plain disgusting, and so should you.

  • tina

    I do Peter, and I am proud to say that I do NOT admire Gov. Palin for her decision, and also proud to say that I myself would terminate immediately a pregnancy in which I found myself carrying such a child. I know I’m in the minority in this, and I don’t care. Gov, Palin had that baby but she surely isn’t raising it, losing her job to care for it, watching her marriage break up because her husband can’t take it, being committed to a life of poverty because of the child’s lifelong needs, no vacations ever, no NOTHING–life over!! I’ve seen it happen to moms of handicapped kids, and what are the compensations–a child who will never rise beyond the mental level of a pet, who can’t even return your affection, who you will have to worry about what will happen to them when you die–because they never become independent. Why would we idealize women who tell other women they ought to do this?
    I don’t admire Sarah Palin for this. She does not have to pay the price that other women do, but we’re all supposed to stand around and hail her for the hour or two which she took off to give birth. She’s an evil witch.
    Women aren’t heroes for having handicapped children when they know better ahead of time. They’re fools, and their babies pay the price. BTW handicapped children are at much higher risk of being abused. They devastate the families they are born into, and understandably the stress levels for many parents become unbearable. Divorce is usual, as is crippling medical debt. Parents should KNOW all this before they decide to carry a handicapped baby to term. Now along comes Palin to make it all seem wonderful and what a nice thing to do. Great.

  • http://www.doves2day.blogspot.com g

    Choice is about letting the individual make the decision. Palin made her choice – OK. Palin wants to deny people like tina the choice. That’s the issue.
    But I don’t disapprove of Palin’s choosing to have the baby. People with Down’s syndrome can be very wonderful and loving. I have friends with a grown adult DS, and their lives are full and rich, and yes they go on vacations with him. My ex roomate worked with ARC working with developmentally disabled adults, and I learned it is a mistake to think of them as having minds like children or being unable to have feeling. And her clients were able to lead “independent” lives – with support from good agencies like ARC and others.
    And tina, please don’t think developmentally disabled people can’t return your affection. That’s simply not true.

  • Samantha

    “with support from good agencies like ARC and others.”
    But where does that funding come from? Certainly not from the Republicans. So what right on god’s green earth does she come off pushing the Republican agenda?
    Sara made a personal choice, fine, but the hard truth is, the taxpayers will be taking care of that baby if she’s elected with McCain. You know they’re going to have staff taking care of that baby, and staff cooking for the whole family and all kinds of privileges. For a regular family, life is hard. And for a regular family, if an older mother had to take care of a special needs child, and then her own teen daughter required her help to raise HER baby, a person in Sara’s position would soon face major burnout.

  • zzyzx

    I worked in the medical field for a few years. DS children used to not live much past junior high school. Now, with antibiotics and other drugs, they can live well into old age. Which brings up the problem of outliving the parents who brought them into this world. If they are not particularly high-functioning, they must be placed in frequently sub-standard state facilities for their care. In addition, it used to be believed that DS people could not get any other mental illnesses. They can. We had one who had seizures and epilepsy and probably a form of schizophrenia. We watched as the now-elderly mother (as sole care-giver) grew more and more thin and pale. The daughter was in her forties at that time. Of course, when the older generations were born, there was not the medical information (or abortions) available, especially not for the poor. It is not something that self-righteous religious fanatics should force on people whom they don’t know. We all have a breaking point and no one else knows what it is.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    My brother and his wife had a lovely Dow Syndrome girl who lived to 20. She had a heart attack very young and required full time care since then and was completely disabled. My sister in law stayed home to provide her care, with relief from a night nurse since she had to be watched 24/7 for the first year or so after her heart attack. At 18, they had to have her declared a ward of the state to be able to afford her medical care.
    I don’t see how a woman or a man with a Down Syndrome baby can take such a responsible position. Some are fairly healthy, sure, but there is always the potential for problems. I consider it almost impossible for Palin to provide the care she needs to for this baby and serve as VP.

  • John Rieder

    @ Tina:
    Your assertion that people born with DS “will never rise beyond the mental level of a pet…[and] can’t even return your affection” is cynical and woefully misinformed. The sort of explicit dehumanization of cognitively disabled persons–equating their mental capacity to that of an animal, painting them as emotionless and unaware–is a really dated way of thinking about developmental disability and precisely the kind of ideology used to legitimate past policies like forced sterilization (read up on the eugenics movement here in the U.S.) and institutionalization as well as to roll back hard-won rights more recently. You clearly haven’t spent a significant amount of time with anyone with DS, and your egregious comments are hurtful and *very* reactionary.
    Oh, and I’m a secular humanist and pro-choice.

  • tina

    To John and g,
    You are thinking of high functioning DS children. They are rare. There are the children at the low end who are as I described them. There used to be a DS young adult man in my husband’s small town who (some years ago and not in the United States) was castrated because he sexually attacked young girls and they wished to “turn off” his sex drive. Retarded adults are often sexual offenders in this way. This isn’t untrue just because you don’t like it–it’s just the ugly side nobody wants to talk about.
    Palin made a choice–it’s the framing of that choice as a “noble sacrifice” and “what a good deed” that bothers me. It’s implying that women who have made the choice to abort the baby in order to save themselves, their marriages, and their normal children have done something base, chickened out, not sacrificed, what have you. In reality it’s a huge sacrifice and emotionally very difficult to choose to terminiate any pregnancy, even if you know the child will be disabled. But we don’t applaud the women who terminate and sort of hint that they were selfish and cowardly whereas Palin was brave and noble.
    A woman might decide to carry a handicapped baby to term because its the high minded and noble thing to do and then find that people’s congratulations are poor reward for everything else she’s had to give up. If she’s sufficiently unprepared for the reality, she will find herself wishing daily that the baby had never been born. And who gets the short end of that stick? The baby–aside from the tragedy that represents for the mother, who shouldn’t be forgotten (but usually is).
    I’m saying we should change that narrative a bit. It’s also noble to decide in favor of not bringing a DS baby into the world if it means you’re not going to be able to look after your own family. Those women are noble too and I congratulate them.

  • marie

    Quotes: “What is wrong with these US religious fanatics and their need to put another tragically handicapped child on this planet.
    I’ve seen it happen to moms of handicapped kids, and what are the compensations–a child who will never rise beyond the mental level of a pet.”
    What the hell is wrong with you people? Have you ever even met a mentally disabled person? Where do you get these ideas? People with Down’s Syndrome are PEOPLE just like you. They think and feel and love just like you!! Pets???? I have a daughter with Down’s Sydrome who is 38 and a son who is 25. Yes, my son’s IQ is much higher than my daughters – he has a master’s degree – but in all other ways they are very alike. They both love video games, Italian food, South Park, flashy cars. What do you think…people with Down’s sit in the corner drooling all day? Many of them have jobs and *gasp* live in their own apartments. I feel so sorry for people like my daughter getting dragged into this endless debate about abortion, religion, politics. In case you are wondering I am an atheist and pro-choice so don’t think you can label me. I had my daughter when I was 17 and abortion wasn’t even legal so I never had to make that choice but I’m not going to dictate to other people what they should do just as I don’t want them dictating to me. My daughter may be “retarded” but at least she isn’t ignorant like you.

  • marie

    QUOTE: “Retarded adults are often sexual offenders in this way. This isn’t untrue just because you don’t like it–it’s just the ugly side nobody wants to talk about.”
    I would like to know the basis for this statement. Facts, figures, sources..or are you like the Republicans who just say things and expect people to believe it. This is the first study I found when googling; it’s from the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology:
    A sample of 2,286 male sex offenders and paraphilics and 241 nonsex offenders was evaluated for the prevalence of mental retardation and learning disorders, using the full Wechsler IQ scales. The sex offenders were generally of average intelligence, and the mentally retarded were not overrepresented among them, but the learning disordered were. There were no differences among sex offenders and controls in overall IQ or in the percentage of mentally retarded or learning-disordered cases, suggesting that the learning difficulties are not peculiar to sex offenders.
    I am really disturbed by the tone of the posts here. Have you ever heard that saying about how you should be careful or you may become like the thing you hate? I am hearing this holier-than-thou tone, condemning other people’s choices. Talking about how people are doing a terrible thing for society and themselves by NOT aborting their disabled babies. Aren’t you just the flip side of the rabid anti-abortionists? I’m sure you all think of yourselves as progressive thinkers but you are sounding pretty damn reactionary to me. You are taking out your disapproval of Palin on a segment of society that is already misunderstood and mistreated. If you all care so much about these “miserable” disabled people, why don’t you do something to improve their futures? Vote yes for taxes to support programs for the disabled. Do some volunteer work for the ARC. You can’t abort disabilites out of existence. Cerebral palsy happens during pregnancy or birth. 80% of Down’s Syndome babies are born to women under age 35. Lots of women don’t have amniocentesis because they have no reason to suspect they are carrying a Down’s child. Very premature babies frequently have many disabilities. You can’t predict and prevent everything. Finally, look up “eugenics” and see if you want to be on board with those folks.

  • dave

    Do you know how incredibly hurtful it is to hear people say that your beloved child who happens to have a disability has no more intelligence or capacity for emotion than the family dog? How dare you. And how dare you point fingers and judge when you know nothing about the true situation. You have no idea whether the parents of a Down’s child knew in advance that the child had the condition. And if they did, you have no idea what led them to the decision to keep the child. Not all of them do so for religious reasons. And it really isn’t any of your damn business is it? You sound just like the anti-choice crowd. If you don’t like Palin, fine, I don’t either but don’t go off the deep end saying kids with Down’s are suffering and have no worth, oh, and grow up to be child molestors too. How very Karl Rovian of you.

  • neodem

    Is it just me, or is this the first time Trig has been seen awake???

  • jen

    What??? You people with degrading and prejudicial comments are mindless. No heart and all mouth, no love and all resentment, do the world a favor and die.

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