September 2, 2008


McCain's screening questioned (SEAN COCKERHAM, 9/02/08, McClatchy News Service)

The announcement Monday by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband that their 17-year-old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock raised new questions about how thoroughly John McCain investigated the background of his vice-presidential pick.


Why the Palin Baby Story Matters: What it means to evangelical voters. (Byron York, 9/02/08, National Review)

When the day’s business was over, I drifted around the Colorado and Ohio delegations — two critical swing states — to get a feel for the delegates’ reaction. In the Colorado section, I ran into Sue Sharkey, from Windsor. When I asked what she thought, her reaction was not about Palin but herself.

“For me personally, it hit my heart this morning,” Sharkey told me, “because I was a 17 year-old girl, just like Sarah Palin’s daughter, and I had — I was in those shoes. And my son is with me, who will be 35 years old next week, and so I know what a difficult road there is for her.”

“I chose to have my son, and from that point I realized that I was a very strong right-to-life advocate,” Sharkey continued, her voice wavering ever so slightly. Roe v. Wade had been passed just the year before, and I already knew girls who were going through abortions. It wasn’t a choice for me; it wasn’t in my heart to do that. So when I heard the news this morning, it struck close to home for me.”

A few feet away, members of the Ohio delegation were finishing up business, and I asked Patricia Murray, a delegate from Cincinnati, what she thought. “I don’t even think this is an issue,” she told me. “It’s a family issue. It’s a personal issue. The only reason it was made public was because of her mother.” Nearby, Ben Rose, a delegate from Lima, said that, “In every case where I heard delegates talk about this, the first thought was to the human nature of it.”

Earlier in the day, just after I heard the news, I called Marlys Popma, the well-known Iowa evangelical leader who is now the head of evangelical outreach for the McCain campaign. Like Sue Sharkey from Colorado, Popma had a story to tell. It turns out she had had a child out of wedlock nearly 30 years ago, and it changed her life. “It was my crisis pregnancy that brought me into the movement,” Popma told me. “My reaction is that this shows that the governor’s family is just like so many families. That’s how my first child came into the world, and I’m just thrilled that [Bristol Palin] is choosing to give this child life.”

I asked Popma what she thought the larger reaction among evangelicals will be. “Their reaction is going to be exactly as mine,” she told me. “There hasn’t been one evangelical family that hasn’t gone through some sort of situation. Many of us are in this movement because of something that has happened in our lives.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2008 6:03 AM
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