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June 8, 2011

Disabled Infants as Campaign Props: Santorum, Palin and a Trig Update

Santorum daughter

Perhaps you saw yesterday’s Bag Tumblr take about the photo above.  It read:

Interesting how some candidates treat their disabled children as lucky charms to cart in front of crowds and loft like medals. (Caption doesn’t go there but Santorum’s 3 y.o. daughter Isabella Maria born with Trisomy 18.) Always wondering why candidates don’t leave their very young or disabled children at home in peace. Is Santorum’s gesture here an act of compassion or campaign badge of authenticity? (And, did Palin set the bar?)

For Bag Readers, by the way, do you remember this shot of Palin during the ‘08 hoopla posing for People Magazine?

To follow up (because little Trig was really the catalyst for the Santorum Tumble), I was interested to know whether and how much Sarah’s Downs son was being showcased these days. Straight away, I discovered Trig leading off the photo thread as an Iron Dog snow racing fan and mascot. Sweet enough. Short of a formal study, I decided to page back through the last four or five stories/events/trips on Palin’s Facebook site.

Palin FB 1

Palin FB 2

Palin FB 3

From there, though, I had to click back 56 pictures to a series of photos from December 11, 2009 of Palin doing the “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” (currently fourteen shots starting here) to find our young gentleman, appearing in the photos above, in this order. (Okay, yes, he’s only in two out of three, but the fact he’s “suddenly not there” in the third photo seems noteworthy, his absence from the shot before still carrying his resonance.)

Even more interesting, though, not just as reference and comparison to Trig, but providing even more fodder for weighing the depth of Palin’s maternal instinct against her promotional one, are these photos of her holding or posing with babies in Haiti. (Besides the photos shown, there are currently a total of 16 total starting here.)

Palin FB 5

Palin FB 6

Perhaps Palin, having thoroughly exploited Trig as a prop during the ‘08 campaign, has smartly moved on? Or more likely, Trig, in transitioning from baby to toddler, has literally outlived his “cute time.” (For favorite scenes from his heyday: RNC Wednesday Wrap-Up: Family Values, as well as this and that early Trig juggling/People shoot again.) Past his prime or not, however, perhaps Sarah’s flinching in Haiti with these otherwise solicited infants – which could have been due to a fear of cholera or other diseases, or a more primary concern with where the camera was on this “working trip,” or other reason I imagine you’ll speculate on in the discussion below — might have just been because she was missing her baby!

Downs girl Palin book signing

But then, seeing this woman holding a Downs child as the reference point for this Nov. 26, 2010 book signing portrait, I would say “that’s more like it!“ I mean, he might be confined to the edges now, but it’s hard — given the indelible mark he made on Campaign ‘08 — not to look at this picture and still warmly and fondly re-visualize Trig.

(photo 1: Reuters. caption: Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (L) reaches back to rub the forehead of his daughter Isabella Maria, who is held by his wife Karen at a rally to officially announce his candidacy for President of the United States on the steps of the courthouse in Somerset, Pennsylvania June 6, 2011. Santorum launched his long-shot Republican bid for president on Monday, pledging an unflinching commitment to conservative policies, including a Medicare reform plan that has proved unpopular with voters. photo 2: mccainblogette.com. All other photos: Sarah Palin Facebook site)

  • Anonymous

    Take a close look at her face when she is holding the child in Haiti.  Her extreme disgust is obvious. She is having a really hard time touching a black baby.   Even the photo touching the baby lying down, you can see that she is mostly touching the diaper, not the skin. 

    There are some other photos of Palin in Haiti where her arms are firmly planted at her side while others have their arms around the children.   It’s very obvious that she is uncomforable. 

  • http://ralfast.wordpress.com/ Ralfast

    She is infamous for using her family as props.

  • Enoch Root

    I think it’s fine that Palin and Santorum (google it) are willing to trot out their disabled children. Disability shouldn’t be shameful or hidden.

    The problem arises when these people who are wealthy make it look like it’s no big deal financially to have a disabled child, even as they want to dismantle Medicare and Social Security. That’s the real ‘prop’ part… It leads to a dialogue like this: “Santorum wants to privatize Social Security. Isn’t that terrible?” “But, he has that disabled kid, so it must be OK…”

    And… Why is there a giant white rectangle hovering over Trig’s head in that one picture?

    • karen h

      good catch.  I think it could be a mirror reflecting the flash of the camera. 

  • Lsjljnla

    More curious though is where is Trig now?  Why isn’t he a part of the campaign tour, I mean family vacation?

  • Lsjljnla

    More curious though is where is Trig now?  Why isn’t he a part of the campaign tour, I mean family vacation?

  • Anonymous

    A more interesting photo of Tri-G can be found here:
    http://conservatives4palin.com/2011/04/happy-third-birthday-trig.html

    It’s interesting because the photo Sarah tweeted out for Tri-G’s THIRD “birthday” is identical to the photo she tweeted out when it was supposedly his SECOND birthday.
    http://malialitman.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/we-already-told-trig-happy-birthday-twice/

    What mom couldn’t even be bothered to tweet out a current photo? Does she even have one? If Tri-G is not in an institution, he’s somewhere with his real parents. I hope he gets the therapy he needs and the glasses Sarah never put on him but once or twice.

    • Asta

      Excellent find, lidia17.  Thank goodness for people like you who keep seeking the Truth.

    • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

      What Asta said. 

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/MAZWYUQJ3MCNPGWGTVNVLS5HAQ Joseph A

    Politicians campaign with their families all the time. 

    I suppose Santorum and Palin should be embarrassed by their DEFECTIVE children and lock them away in some facility where they can sit around and drool all day? This level of criticism is beyond pathetic. And BTW, I’m a liberal.

  • Candyce

    My issue with these two people is that they use their children as pro-life props.  Proof that you don’t need pro-choice exceptions to abortion law.  And they have both used their children to bolster their anti-choice positions.  As if it should be an easy decision for everyone, not just them who obviously have the resources to care for a special needs child.

    I’ve always thought Trig is only around when it’s convenient for Sarah, when his appearance will be beneficial to her current gig.  Usually it’s someone else shlepping the boy around.  Always wonder who is taking care of the special needs of the child since his mommy is constantly on the road, doing her own branding thing. 

    As for Santorum – well, certainly you can’t say the child shouldn’t be here.  He is.  But his life is and will be hard, and he will likely die before his teen years.  In the meantime his quality of life will be limited and physcially painful.  Luckily the Santorums have government healthcare and other resources to help with the child.  And perhaps he’ll be an asset to his father’s political career. 

  • A Democrat

    This whole thread is unseemly and embarrasses me on behalf of the left.  Can we confine our criticism of Mrs. Palin to her politics?  

  • A Democrat

    This whole thread is unseemly and embarrasses me on behalf of the left.  Can we confine our criticism of Mrs. Palin to her politics?  

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