The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Politicizing Palin’s daughter creates double standard

The manipulation of presidential candidates’ family members for political gain has been commonplace for some time now. In this year’s race both potential first ladies have been attacked by the other side and portrayed as elitists, just as Theresa Heinz Kerry was in 2004. And who can forget the scrutiny the Bush daughters have endured since their father took office in 2001?

While the spouses and siblings of major national candidates have always served as political fodder for the opposing side, attacking a candidate’s children has traditionally been a more delicate subject. When it was revealed shortly after her selection as John McCain’s running mate that Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter was five months pregnant, however, the liberal media wasted no time in humiliating the girl, and levying attacks against her mother based primarily on her family’s turmoil.

The liberal media has literally had a field day with Bristol Palin. On September 1, the traditionally left-leaning New York Times published three separate articles regarding Bristol Palin’s recently announced pregnancy. In the Washington Post, liberal columnist Sally Quinn wrote an article entitled “Palin’s Pregnancy Problem,” in which she questioned the parenting skills of the Alaska governor in relation to her readiness to serve as Vice President.

Even David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Bill Maher have gotten in on the act. SMU’s own George Henson gleefully hopped on the Bristol-bashing bandwagon. Yesterday, he referred to her pregnancy as “germane” to the race, and ironically asked in last week’s The Daily Campus: “Never mind the obvious distractions that parenting an unwed teen mother creates, can you imagine the Republican outrage if this were happening in Joe Biden’s family?”

I would personally argue that the behavior of a candidate’s child is irrelevant to a national campaign, and that a politician’s parenting skills have neither a positive or negative correlation on their ability to be effective in public office. But since you brought up the subject so confidently and sarcastically, I feel obligated to tell the other side of the story.

As it turns out, Senator Biden does have a daughter of his own, 27-year-old Ashley Biden. And while Senator Biden originally coined the title of “drug czar” as a position in the federal government and has championed tougher laws to curb the use of drugs and more specifically the continued criminalization of marijuana, Ashley Biden was arrested in New Orleans for possession of marijuana while an undergraduate student at Tulane

Furthermore, while Biden has long been a friend to the law enforcement community, having sponsored numerous pieces of legislation which put more officers on the streets and increased federal funding for law enforcement agencies, it seems that Ashley has not always shared his admiration for the police. In 2002, she was arrested outside of a bar in Chicago for obstructing a police officer, and reportedly made intimidating remarks to officers on scene. The charges stemming from this incident were only dropped after Ashley made a public apology in court to the arresting officers. Predictably, while Henson was quick to pin the scarlet letter on Bristol Palin and politicize her pregnancy, he has yet to raise the issue of the conflicts between Biden’s policies and his daughter’s rap sheet.

Granted, neither Bristol Palin nor Ashley Biden asked for their parents’ careers to thrust them into the national spotlight. However, there are some stark contrasts between their situations. Bristol Palin is a minor who made an unquestionably irresponsible mistake, but has never been implicated in any instance of breaking the law. On the other hand, Ashley Biden has had two criminal charges against her since legally becoming an adult. And while Bristol’s story has been splashed across every major news outlet in America in the past week, Ashley Biden’s criminal history has almost entirely been swept under the rug. Hence, it seems the “Republican outrage” that Henson alluded to has been muted, at least to this point in the campaign. Unfortunately, Bristol Palin has not been able to enjoy the same media courtesy that Ashley Biden has received.

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