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Parental Politics

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The images are as wholesome as a Hallmark card—Caroline Kennedy and her little brother John-John gracing the White House. When their father was elected President, Caroline was only 3; her brother, just a baby. Their father would face great challenges during his brief time in office—the Cuban Missile crisis, civil rights, Vietnam. Yet, no one seemed to question whether he could handle the job with a toddler and a baby in the family.

Amy Carter was in third grade when her father Jimmy moved the family into the White House. According to, Amy missed her home in Georgia after she was uprooted to Washington, D.C. Still, political pundits did not spend airtime wondering how Jimmy Carter would cope with his tween-ager’s angst.

When she was 12 years old, Chelsea Clinton became a resident of Pennsylvania Avenue. On the verge of becoming a teenager, Chelsea certainly had reason to feel a bit out of her element. She probably needed her father more at that time than at any previous point in her life. However, no one pondered whether Bill Clinton could be a leader of a Superpower and a Super Dad, too.

Now, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin arrives on the scene. She’s not vying for the number-one office in the land—she’s battling for number-two. Yet, journalists openly question whether Alaska’s chief executive can handle being a Mom and the Vice-Presidency, too.

The double-standard that’s in play here could not be more obvious. Democrat Barack Obama is father to two girls who haven’t even reached puberty yet. But when “Access Hollywood” interviewed the Obama family, the reporter seemed more interested in Obama’s taste in chewing gum than in his suitability for the Presidency. Fans of the interview pointed out how nice it would be to have young children in the White House again. No one asked whether Obama could stand up to Russia and still have time to play Scrabble with his offspring.

I would venture to say that, if a woman went in for a job interview, and the hiring manager asked, “Just how do you expect to excel in this job and be a good parent, too?” she would be mortified. If having children under the age of 18 were a disqualification for employment, our economy would grind to a halt.

The fact is, Sarah Palin is being subjected to the worst sexism in the world—and it’s coming not so much from “the right,” but from the liberal left. Journalist Sally Quinn posed the question, “If the phone rings at three o'clock in the morning and her baby is sick what will Sarah Palin do?” I don’t recall anybody asking that of John Kennedy, yet he is heralded as a great President. Is anybody wondering what Obama will do if his 7-year-old Sasha gets a toothache in the middle of the night?

Sarah Palin is applying for a job—a big job, to be sure, but a job nonetheless. She should be judged on her ability to perform as a leader—not as caregiver-in-chief. Despite what some media moguls have to say, I don’t think the average American cares whether she’ll have time to bake chocolate chip cookies for her youngest daughter’s class. Joe and Jo-Anne American are a little bit more concerned about whether Sarah Palin is prepared to grow the economy, help create jobs, and win the war on terror.

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