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September 2, 2008

The Connection Between John McCain And Bristol Palin


Although the McCain campaign said that Mr. McCain had known about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy before he asked her mother to join him on the ticket and that he did not consider it disqualifying, top aides were vague on Monday about how and when he had learned of the pregnancy, and from whom. (NYT)

If there was a national organization dedicated to helping people with impulse control problems, this image — taken just before the Veep announcement on Friday — would make a great billboard for the front of its headquarters.

What resonates in this photo — in John McCain’s over-the-top chuckle and his focus on Bristol Palin — is how much McCain’s impulsive, yet potentially world changing decision to ask Bristol’s mom onto the ticket without vetting her echoes Bristol’s impulsive act of getting pregnant (and the question whether, at this point McCain really did know).

… A “maverick,” by the way, is ostensibly someone known for fiercely independent thinking, not fierce actions without thinking.

8:55 pst Clarification/Update: The post, in my mind at least, has next-to-nothing to do with Bristol Palin.  Any teenage that gets pregnant is acting impulsively.  It’s not a character fault or accusation, it’s more a developmental issue, and one — like the Palin family is saying — must be treated more as a mistake than anything else.  The point, though, is how much the same kind of unthinking behavior, in a grown man, and especially someone who aspires to the presidency, IS a character issue.  Along those lines, what is captured in this picture is one of two realities: that either McCain did do his vetting and, along with a lot of other baggage about Sarah Palin, he’s pretending not to see it, or what I suspect, but have no way of knowing, is that McCain — who chose Palin in a knee-jerk act, the impulsive person never that interested in or able to deal in facts — smiles at Palin’s daughter with Palin’s baby (and grandchild), but has NO IDEA about any of “the baggage.”

(image: Heather Brand/

  • no thank you

    “is how much McCain’s impulsive, yet potentially world changing decision to ask Bristol’s mom onto the ticket without vetting her echoes Bristol’s impulsive act of getting pregnant”
    Wow, this is really dangerous territory you are getting into here. Seriously.
    Look, the girl is 17. It’s hardly unheard of for a girl this age to get pregnant. She’s practically a woman.
    I think if the left wants to attack McCain and Palin for the fact that Palin’s daughter is pregnant, this is SERIOUSLY going to backfire. Very hypocritical. I personally don’t understand why this is even an issue.

    • Mike

      You made very good points.
      It was the Lincoln party that became the Republican party.
      It is the Republican party standing up against government stealing citizens ideas and likewise money
      It is the Republican party standing against overbearing over-taxation, manipulation of the tax-codes, and the extreme rudeness and lawlessness of people coming to our country taking advantage of the rio-grand and 51 miles at it’s closest point to Russia (which I am told can be seen on a clear day). I have no desire to learn spanish or russian. Maybe I am disappointed illegal aliens (who apparently don’t bother to learn a stich of American English anymore, why bother?) could be considered “law abiding” and allowed to take advantage of us all (and no they don’t pay income tax, how could they?)

      The TEA party is not at all “Republican” or racist or hates our neighboring countries but it is a sad day when most all the ones standing up on these issues are the border states (mostly fully countrolled BY the neighboring countries and other criminal organizations and/or the money and “power” it is not being afraid to rape, otherwise rob, threaten, and murder American citizens). A cold war as described to me.

      I fully agree (with raping and murder of my families) that we ARE Taxed Enough Already and certainly think if people understood what the TEA party stood for (besides the dissent democrats there to undermind them, as for the party as a whole are made up of Democrats and Republicans). How in the world could McCain and Palin won if we won’t stoop so low as to hire white supremists false-prophet antichrists to torture god-fearing Christians to know the future? And to think a black man vetted by the pentagon would think jumping the fence not entering by the gate is practicing “Christianity” because “he needs to feel white to do his job” is beyond me. This is only the attitude that forced the hand of a black man president in 1992.

  • Lee
  • marco

    This is NOT a left/right issue, it’s a National Security issue.
    If he doesn’t seem to care that his VP pick is bribe friendly or
    extortion vulnerable, who then, can we count on that he’ll pick
    for Defense Secretary? Attorney General? Yikes.
    I think there was a crisis when Hillary and Bill both told their
    base in no uncertain terms to vote for Obama. And McCain buckled
    under pressure and picked someone he hadn’t vetted at all.
    If he’s not up for a medium sized crisis and/or can’t handle his
    PTSD on his own, I don’t want him as my POTUS I don’t care what
    party he’s from.
    Hell, his only real pick was Lieberman. It’s not about party, it’s
    about fascism, FISA and the security state melting down.

  • paul

    I think if the left wants to attack McCain and Palin for the fact that Palin’s daughter is pregnant, this is SERIOUSLY going to backfire. Very hypocritical. I personally don’t understand why this is even an issue.
    It’s an issue because John McCain has run a campaign based on the idea that he’s an experienced leader whom we can trust to run the country during dangerous times. And he has characterized his opponent as untested and an unknown quantity. Either McCain has had the poor judgment to pick Palin without vetting her or he had the poor judgment to nominate her knowing that stuff would come out about her. The McCain campaign is saying the latter is the case, but that make me wonder about McCain’s judgment even more — if he knew all these things, why didn’t his campaign have a plan to manage these revelations?
    At this point, Palin is the gift that keeps on giving and Obama just has to sit back and watch the train wreck unfold. Probably best case for the Democrats is for Palin to stay on the ticket and slowly bleed away McCain’s support. If he replaces her, he might be able to contain the damage and only lose by a small margin, but with her, he’s going down hard. But he’s stuck with her unless something else comes out about her.

  • paul

    I should also add, on the photo, between the silly grin and the fiercely folded arms he looks like he’s got it bad for Sarah but knows the wife is next to him — the folded arms are to keep himself from touching her. Does this man have impulse control issues or what?

  • black dog barking

    Former POW McCain is protected from the consequences of ill-advised decisions by his war story. Born-again President Bush used his conversion to some vague Christianity to magically wipe away the first two-thirds of his life. For an identifiable portion of our population simply stating your opposition to a certain class of medical procedure inspires near-absolute trust and loyalty.
    ‘Course this should be about the job, not the person. McCain’s job, US Senator, is one that gets done even though the man himself rarely shows up at work. In that light I’m sure Gov Palin will be just fine as Vice President since the hard part in a Modern Republican Administration is getting the job — after that it literally takes a cat-5 hurricane to knock you out. See Brown, Michael (Brownie).

  • Roschelle

    I know Sen. Obama said family members are off limits. BUT…..Has anyone seen the video of Cindy McCain explaining Gov. Palin’s National Security Experience. The link is to the clip on my site. You’ve got to see it.

  • g

    I’m intrigued by the fact that in almost all the photos I’ve seen of Bristol, she is hiding her body – holding Trig with a blanket, crossing her arms, turning sideways into someone else. It must have been very awkward and uncomfortable for her to be included in all these family photos BEFORE the announcement came out.
    The pix of her holding Trig – so often, and so conspicuously – almost feel as though she is doing penance.

  • Robin Lee

    I’ve had this conversation with my wife all day. The issue isn’t about Palin’s daughter, its about Palin and McCain. As a mother Palin consciously chose to accept McCain’s selection knowing full well that her daughter’s “situation” would emerge to the white hot glare of the national media circus. Unless I was a cold, calculating, ambitious, power hungry politician (who I might add can’t be very bright if she really thinks that she’s going to be the next VP) I think it would be better not to make the choice that subjects me and my daughter to that spotlight. As for McCain, it looks like he’s incapable of making sound decisions. Does he know he’s in way over his head? Is he starting to lose it? Is he so used to getting a free ride my the traditional media that he thought no one would pick up the scent on any or all of Palin’s baggage? For my money I really think he’s lost touch with reality or preserved just enough touch with it to realize that he’s augering in (again).

  • Megan

    The hands are so strange in that picture. Look who is echoing whom. Little girl, bottom right, is clearly synched to her mom, the two people clasping their hands together over their diaphragms. But why is Sen. McCain synched to Miss. Palin? Left arm over the top, right arm under. (I would think that is coincidence, except that his body is oriented so directly towards Miss. Palin.) And Ms. McCain, hands behind back, no match in the room. It is such a mishmash.

  • Mona

    There is something televangelical about Palin’s entire demeanor: hair, hands, glasses, suit, smile… it is as if one expects her to get on stage and tell us how accepting Jesus into her life has changed it beyond recognition. Here comes my large brood to prove it. For “g’’s entry above… penance is the accurate word here. The way religion has been abused the past eight years, I apologize for my short fuse. Remember Ashcroft…

  • sdv

    what happened to Cindy’s cast?

  • mudkitty

    I think the whole point of the pics of the announcement is the fact that they used the 4 month old as a prop to cover up the pregnant belly of the 17 year old. It’s transparent.
    I say Palin won’t last out the week if she makes it to her acceptance speech.
    And of course, it’s not about Bristol the Pistol, it’s about Palin’s mothering skills, and about how abstinence only education is a total joke now.
    Any way, here’s more:

  • Samantha

    Everyone in the photo is uncomfortable, illustrated by all the folded and put-away hands. Cindy’s are behind her, McCains are tucked tightly in front, Palin’s are clasped and she’s leaning right, Bristol’s are holding onto Trig for dear life, and even the smallest girl gets the message and has her hands in front of her.
    And frankly, I’m not any more comfortable. How could anyone be? Palin gave birth to a premature, special needs child just a few short months ago, she’s got a teen who is 5 months pregnant, and other children. I’m not comfortable with Palin’s decision to drag her family into the spotlight, and also to push the care of her baby onto her daughter or who else is around. It’s not really fair to Bristol, who has her own pregnancy to worry about, her own nutrition schedule, nausea, etc.
    And G’s comment about Bristol always hiding her body in photos, and using the baby as a prop seems accurate to me. What was Palin telling her? Honey, stand over here…turn this way, you’re too obvious? When was she going to tell Alaskans about the news? Or her own staff? What’s the need for hiding it? You simply say, my daughter is pregnant, we’re a family so we’re dealing with it, and I’m proud of my daughter. Case closed. With all this, and troopergate and other stuff…what the heck is going on in Wasilla?

  • LMorland

    Love your deconstructions of the photos.
    Just wanted to point out, though, that it’s NOT Cindy McCain, but MEGHAN McCain, her daughter, who labels the photos. Meghan, as I’m sure you know, started a blog last year. I read about it in the NYtimes right after New Hampshire and checked it out. It’s a charming look at the “backstage” of a campaign.
    I’m actually a long-time Obama person, and so I forgot about until the Palin story hit with gale force winds, and so I checked it out again yesterday, which is why I’ve already seen that photo and know who labeled it.

  • desertwind

    What strikes me is the contrast between Bristol w/ Trig and the Sarah w/ Trig pix below.
    Bristol seems much more connected to the baby than Sarah does.
    (Whatever this interpretation says about them. Or about me.)

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