The loathsome wash of modern politics has engulfed a 17-year-old kid.
She's pregnant, normally not a situation worthy of news bulletins rivaling coverage of a Category 3 hurricane. But Bristol Palin's also the daughter of John McCain's running mate. McCain's campaign outed the teenager, apparently to quiet rumors churning through the blogosphere that Sarah Palin's youngest child, born in April, was actually Bristol's. This second pregnancy may humiliate Bristol but it eclipses a major distraction.
And news editors can now rationalize paying so much attention to an unseemly matter because the girl's unplanned pregnancy lends us "insight" into her mother, someone who happens to be a new actor on the national stage.
That strikes me as an thin excuse for an exercise in crass titillation. I don't much like Jane Palin immoderate politics -- particularly her disdain for evolution -- but her daughter's deportment is scant evidence of Sarah Palin's character or her faulty family values. We all know better. We all know upstanding conscientious attentive parents whose teenage children have gone irrationally berserk. We know kids from fine families who've become 17-year-old tattooed skin-head drug peddlers.
Besides, I doubt Bristol's misadventures in love hardly compare to, say, my own 17th year. I was on my own down in Mississippi in perpetual pursuit of girls and beer and gas money for my 1958 Ford. I'll say that my behavior would have pretty well disqualified anyone in my extended family from any hope of elective office.
Maybe we ought to limit media criticism of young Bristol to bloggers who can certified that they spent their 17th year as virgins. The rest of us would be stuck dealing with issues that actually matter.