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Joan Walsh
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September 18
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SEPTEMBER 5, 2008 12:36PM

Motherhood and St. Cindy McCain

Rate: 18 Flag

I've been very influenced by the posts of Stellaa and Redstocking Grandma and others, urging people to stay focused on Sarah Palin's retrograde stance on the issues, not on her decisions as a mother. Occasionally I slip, but on balance, I think that's the right approach.

But I found myself appalled by Cindy McCain last night, and the way she used her adopted daughter Bridget as a prop to prove what a great humanitarian she is. I'm not saying the McCains should try to hide that Bridget was adopted; after the disgusting way the Bush campaign spread rumors in 2000 that the dark-skinned child was McCain's out-of-wedlock daughter with a black mistress, they couldn't if they wanted to. But Thursday night's entire tableau of tributes to St. Cindy made my skin crawl. First, in the syrupy Cindy video, St. Cindy with Mother Teresa, St. Cindy narrating the travails of this orphan with a cleft palate she tried to help, and then adopted; later, during Cindy's speech, her again calling out Bridget and pointing to her in the crowd...I don't know, I thought it was awful.

What did others think? 

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It made me uncomfortable. I'm not in Cindy's place, but I would hope that if this package was put together by others on my behalf, I would have had the sense and empathy for the child to mute that part of my video CV. When they panned to Bridget, I had the sense from looking at her that she was uncomfortable, but there could be a host of reasons for that.

I think there is a stark contrast in the two conventions. Barak and the DNC was about hope, the future, true change and restoration. The RNC seemed in the throes of desperation to me, so I'm not surprised by the schmaltz that just wasn't quite ringing true and was only successful for those that had already swallowed the red pill.

I also would like to praise Stellaa and RSG for their consistent message to stay focused on any number of issues--I've learned quite a bit from them and I'm in their debt (true for others as well).
I think your first mistake was watching their dreck, but I suppose that professional demands made it so.

But when you can get the two-fer of showing the candidate's wife in a good light and a rare non-white face in the crowd, why not?
I am happy for the individuals and institutions Cindy McCain has helped over the years, but I think it would have been better for her to mention Bridget's situation as part of the whole story, downplaying the personality and discussing the processes of philanthropy in a more general way, not pointing her out in such an obviously self-serving manner. It came off as another celebrity rescue scenario. I think a video interview with her would have been more effective. I have trouble getting past the self-congratulatory tone of her speech.
They are tryiing to show they are a party of compassion. The easiest way to do that is to have a VISUAL representation of compassion, and showing the adopted child with dark skin is the easiest way to do that. For the audience they were trying to reach, I think it worked.
They were just trying to make Cindy look good. You didn't expect them to mention her father's federal conviction for liquor violations did you?
I for one was glad she pointed out her adopted daughter. Should have reminded everyone how disgustingly this child was abused by the Rovians in 2000, and how weakly the McCains responded (Cindy included).
AND how Karl Rove, on loan from the current administration, is orchestrating the McCain/Palin run.
How's that for change?
PS - I have no independent confirmation of this, but Thom Hartmann just referred to Ms McCain's wardrobe for last night as "$300,000 worth of dress and jewelery." I dont begrudge her success, but the only thing changed in the Republican playbook since 1958 is that the women used to wear "a good Republican wool coat" (for those of you lucky enough to be younger than that comment, it was Tricky Dicky explaining how he wasn't corrupted by corporate money - see, his wife only wore average person's clothing!)
As the mother of two adopted children (and an adoptee myself), I find it reprehensible that Mrs. McCain "used" her daughter in this fashion. And, Joan, I agree that "used" is the correct word for this display.

Children who are adopted have plenty to deal with in regard to identity issues as it is (and I can see it from both sides) without being used in a propaganda campaign.
I think I've never been happier to not have a TV than I have been this week.
agree with Lonnie, and Gary.

Remember when a person like Cindy did not trumpet their own works, but rather let others find out if they so wished? Remember when a person who did good works did not seek celebrity or accolades for said works? Why did this change? Why do people now feel not embarrassment about tooting their own horn in this way, "see how good I am"? When did we become a nation that preferred to push the conclusions onto people rather than letting them draw them for themselves?
The whole event was over the top being based almost exclusively on family narrative and POW experiences. As Americans in crisis, we do not want to hear a bedtime story about grandfather's life, we want a working plan for our next day on the planet.

The bettering of life for the masses is NOT part of the agenda, however. I wish Americans would wake up to this fact, but it isn't going to happen by this election. There are still too many people around me that have been conditioned over the years to buy into all the soundbites and talking points. It is easier for them, and for many, simple is all that they can handle just now.
It seems to me that Cindy McCain and the GOP are stuck in a retrograde version of compassion, and I mean colonialism-era retrograde. They gone back past the "Republican wool coat" sensibility to when acts of compassion were self-serving demonstrations of Christian charity by the ruling class. Witness McCain calling for hurricane relief at the beginning of the convention while dressed for all the world like one of Disney's evil queens, in a power-collared shimmering gold bodice.
Hey Joan,

Totally digging Open Salon. Will, one day, actually blog here myself. Great fun.

Anyway, this mommy war thing is tricky. I'm a deep feeling feminist Democrat, and this Palin thing has me spinning. I feel like her selection has rendered the whole discussion of sexism in political leadership, not to mention coverage, null and void. So many conflicting emotions, opinions and feelings. The net result is cacaphony. I've decided to just speak my mind and let the chips fall where they may because I can't quite think it through. It beats confusion.

Sarah Palin. Mother of 5, huge career. I have 2, and only work part time but I know how you balance children and work is personal and really feel it all comes out in the wash. Some women who stay at home and "prioritize" their children do worse by them then women who work long hours. It depends. Regarding Palin, that held for me, barely, but it held. The oldest one reportedly had some difficulty, enlisting might have been a solution, I'd sooner cut my hand off, but these are people who believe in the war, so who am I do judge. Ok. Baby born with special needs. Sure, they need intense intervention, but she brings the baby to work (totally get that) and must have very able ways to meet those needs. Reportedly she has a "deep bench" of family and friends to rely upon not to mention a dedicated spouse, as does Barack Obama, so she can manage it all within the family, good for her.

But then came the news of Bristol's pregnancy. As a person whose family has experienced this issue for, frankly, generations...this one was harder to get beyond. It doesn't reflect on her parenting. Not saying that. But folks keep saying, if it were a male candidate no one would question him. Not so from this blogger. I'd question him big time. And lets please imagine if the candidate, male or female, were black? But I don't even have to go there. Nor do I have to object to Palin's policy on abstinence only education in terms of her family. That is her business. But what about Bristol? I really didn't like remembering her clutching her baby brother to hide her pregnancy bump on the national stage. I'm sure her mom is supportive, and that's part of her growing up faster now, but it broke my heart a bit. And now there is a sparkling ring, and a fiance, but is he any where near up to the challenge of what he's facing as being the vp's teen son-in-law. Poor kid was chewing gum on the stage and didn't have the sense to remove his myspace description of being a &%*^ redneck. That doesn't bode well for a happy marriage. Sorry.

And where does a college education fit into this. In our society, outside of places like Alaska where the population is low and the resources high, college makes the difference between struggle and success. It is important to encourage college. I like to see families on the national stage the have an understanding of higher education.

So when I take all these things together, respectfully, I sense a chaos to great to be president or vp. All families have chaos, but there is a tipping point (that I've seen in my own extended family) that is worth avoiding at all costs. Sometimes parents are faced with opportunities that are extraordinary, impossible to refuse, that require great understanding and sacrifice from their children. But sometimes the price is too high, even without winning the election (No Way, Now How, No McCain Palin) and we do have the freedom to say not yet, not now. Frankly, Cindy McCain's using of her child seems less noxious ultimately. We'll see, maybe it will all come out in the wash.
The whole campaign makes me uneasy and their tactics are disturbing on so many levels.

I do have to make one comment though on the mom issue. Palin pulled the devoted mom card. I am a devoted mom and I know the hard, hard work it is to be a parent, especially when issues like teen pregnancy (which is alarming across this nation today) and a special needs child are involved. My hats go off to every hard working mom out there. Every mom who puts their life aside to take care of their kids and raise them with strong morals and values. Who help their teen daughters in such times of crisis. And because I am a devoted mom, and because I know so many devoted, hard-working moms, I can see right through her BS. One of my best friends has a daughter with special needs, and that mother is devoted to that child 24/7. That is a devoted mom. The fact that everyone overlooks it is a mistake because she is NOT the example of a devoted mom and she most certainly does not have strong family values. Hockey mom? BS! Hockey moms are busy toting their kids, their equipment and the fan club around in their broken down vans to get to every game and cheer that kids on. Please let's just keep that in mind.

And there is no way I'm saying that a woman can't do a man's job! But I will say that most men can't fill a mother's shoes. Being a mom is the most underrated job in the world today.

Sorry to rant. I guess I'm just really trying to say that if you're going to revolve a part of your campaign around being the devoted hockey mom with strong family values, then damnit, be one.
It's all part and parcel of personality politics. Once you start down that road everyone is parading their whole life before you to say, Look, I'm a really good person. You cannot easily draw any lines.

I agree with Glenn Greenwald's general point of view. This personality game is rigged from the get-go to favor the right wing.

It's simple, first, avoid the issues which poll after poll says favors Democrats.

Second, make it a personality contest and pump up your guy to be a big hero. Doesn't matter if it's not always a complete job because...

Step 3 is you tear down your opponent with massive character attacks that makes your guy seem okay in comparison.

When you indulge in this game, you by definition endorse it and help the right wing in gaining power. Everyone is a campaign strategist, everyone has an opinion on what images/myths/themes will appeal best to voters. What you don't have(on the Left) is the media infrastructure and rabid ideological character assassins who will go out and do the hit on the other guy.

Just imagine if Barack Obama and his wife were once members of a black separatist organization. He would be made instantly unelectable.
There’s a fuzzy grey line that separates the appropriateness of “flagging” a family member. My son is adopted and is a member of a race other than my own. I also have a special-needs sibling. By disclosing those two realities I have somewhat defined myself to you as a new acquaintance. You better know me and my situation in life. If, however, my intent appears to be self-aggrandizement, I have stepped over that fuzzy grey line.
So we must attempt to divine one’s intent to determine the appropriateness of “flagging” a family member, friend, co-worker or any other acquaintance. In the context of a political convention, I think it’s safe to assume that self-enrichment is the intent. This is the same intent in parading family members on the stage after a speech, but with one major distinction: the candidate is not pointing out differences when the family joins them. Had Bridget McCain or Trig Palin been introduced with the rest of the family rather than singled out to achieve “look at what makes benevolent” we would not have squirmed in our seats. The self-aggrandizement of Ms. McCain and Governor Palin is all too obvious in their treatment of their children. Their purposes were very transparent and I was repulsed.
The thing I thought most interesting was that the only two people among the tableau of "Cindy and The Magnificent Seven McCAin Children" who were wearing bright colors were Cindy McCain and Brigit. This was deliberate, make no mistake. Forget that the blended family represents not only Cindy's kids, but others from the previous marriage in which Cindy played the part of The Other Woman. All you need to remember about Cindy McCain is that she loves the little orphan girls.

Now, both sides do some of this. The Obamas were very carefully presented to the Convention floor as well. But I do think that the GOP takes the cake this go-round between Palin and her kids and Cindy and her orphan with the use of family members for political gain.

McCain also likes to trot out his 96-year old mother. Why? Because she's spunky and spry and reminds people that you could live a lot longer than 72 and still be spunky and spry. If Roberta McCain was in a wheelchair sucking on oxygen, you can bet your ass she'd be nowhere near the campaign.

I think the pressure was on with Cindy because Michelle had done such a terrific job at the DNC Convention. After Michelle Obama presented her story of how she grew up, and how she pulled herself up out of the southside but came back to serve it afterwards, the buzz was that it was going to be difficult for a wealthy beer heiress to match that kind of narrative. Hence the focus on philanthropy.

I am sure Cindy McCain does a lot of philanthropy. Many heiresses do. And it's not wrong to focus on that. But once you drag the kids into it, then it borders on the crass. Cindy didn't bring home a Bangladeshi orphan as a political punch line. To turn her into one is denigrating.
When I was a foster child as a teenager, I HATED it when people pointed me out. It made me feel like I wasn't the "real" kid, like the ones that were born into the family. When the people at church wanted to use me as an example of how charity worked, it made me feel like my accomplishments were not my own but theirs. Children are treated as material objects that reflect something about their "owners," and by owners I mean the adults around them that use them to reflect some belief they have, or wish to have, about themselves. It's a kind of projection.

Plenty of people who have money try to make a point of helping the "little people" with a hand out to prove their sense of themselves as generous.

When I finally got into college on my own at 25 years of age, the children of those same people wanted my notes so they wouldn't have to do their own work. It's the idea of privilege and the laziness it inspires in those born to it that we were seeing. This is more about class than it is about motherhood.

I am of the opinion that the most good is done by people who do their good works when no one is looking. A really kind social worker gave me some of her college textbooks in sociology and psychology to read when I was waiting for months for a foster home at 16 years of age. What she did was prove her opinion of my intelligence and ability to succeed when no one would benefit but me by what she did.

Cindy McCain should well have had an opportunity to cut this dreck off at the pass, she didn't and that makes her a spoiled rich girl trying to buy a better opinon of herself at the expense of her adopted daughter. Ick!
No authenticity whatsoever in this woman. She played "the race of my baby" card. Makes my stomach turn.
Like you said--it made my skin crawl. Finally wrote about how creepy it was today. Only Squirrel and Freaky Troll kept me somewhat sane all week!
Remember how MSNBC commentator David Shuster sneered about the Clintons "pimping" Chelsea? I haven't seen even a mention of using these GOP babies, adopted daughters and pregnant daughters for political purposes.

We need to post about these between-the-cracks things, and then send out the posts to our friends. I do feel we bloggers have a major function in this election, and may just tip it if we stay alert and aggressive.
Let's look to Larry Beinhart's "Wag the Dog" for inspiration here. Or how about those Leni Riefenshtal odes to Adolph from the 1930's, like "Triumph of the Will"?

Plain truth here is this stuff is pure, grade A, unadulterated propaganda of the highest order, and all the images, backdrops, rhetoric, visual cues, wardrobe, the whole 10 yards, are designed to drive home the mythology of this campaign, including the personal mythology of the players, from McCain to his wife to Palin et al. To see it as anything less than a multi-million dollar choreographed mindfuck is tragically naive and terminally foolish. For all we know, even the protesters there last night were plants, designed to distract the adoring mass from McCain's stilted oratory and give him a chance to "shoot down" their taunts.

On "60 Minutes" in 1998, McCain said "I was a war criminal" (see Ted Rall's Feb/2008 post on Common Dreams). By his own laudable admission, he carpet bombed countless innocent North Vietnamese civilians, non-combatants. Yeah, they were "the enemy" according to LBJ and McNamara and your average construction worker, but quite a few million Americans didn't think so as I recall. Many even thought McCain and his ilk were the enemies of a peaceful solution to that war. Sound familiar?

After McCain crashed in a Hanoi lake, he was rescued by one of those civilians! Unlike former Nebraska governor Bob Kerrey (Democrat), Medal of Honor winner and combat amputee who had his reputation exploded by revelations on the cover of the NY Times Magazine that he spearheaded a village firefight in Nam in which innocent women and children were slaughtered by men under his command, John McCain's ordeal as a POW--excluding by design his torture-driven capitulation to the enemy (although he himself has acknowledged this in the past), and his own subsequent soul-searching admission of wrongdoing--has been elevated to Olympian, even Messianic status, by Karl Rove and his GOP spinmeisters, and is the prime foundation of his legitimacy and qualifications as a candidate and his claim to the presidency. If this isn't world-class propaganda honed by experts, I don't know what is.

That this cynicism extends to his wife and the exploitation of their adopted daughter, just as Palin exploited her own pregnant daughter and the clueless boyfriend by parading them on stage, is merely an extension of the "message" of defiance toward the media onslaught and "family values", neatly served up in a visual extravaganza. Somehow, we're supposed to look at the cadaverous McCain and see Duke Wayne in any one of a dozen heroic war movies. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, we hear John McCain: eyes glued to the teleprompter, stolid, still making with that dumb Bushian smirk at the end of every sentence, still calling everyone "my dear friends". When we look at his wife, we're supposed to see a composite of stylish Nancy Reagan and Mother Theresa, instead of the wafer-thin, overdressed enigma that stands there. Who is she? She seems near-invisible compared to the likes of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Edwards, and of course, HRC. As "chairwoman" of a giant beer distributorship, does she actually work in that business? How has she spent her time the past 28 years of their marriage? What are her values? Good luck.

I agree with someone in another post here who said in effect it's a strange kind of parental love that allows you to parade your kids in front of that kind of crowd, let alone a vast TV audience, without being really sure they're OK with it. Perhaps that kind of soul-searching was done, but somehow, I just don't buy it. Joan, you thought it was awful. I think it's creepy. Frankly, I think the whole damn convention was kinda creepy. But as my mom says, "So, what did you expect?"
Yes, she was sort of a Stepford saint -- Barbie doll looks with a heart like Mother Teresa! I wanted to appreciate Cindy McCain's efforts, and I still feel for them for the horrible rumors the Bush campaign spread. But Cindy's awkward delivery made it even worse, as Bridget and others had to stand twice and be applauded twice as she acknowledged and re-acknowledged them. And what about the woman from Rwanda? What exactly was her personal story and how did she meet Cindy McCain? The lack of storytelling there made that whole moment seem like she was trotting out a trophy. Those "introduce the special guests" moments are always manufactured and cheesy, but this really made the woman's undoubtedly horrendous suffering just a subplot in the story of Cindy McCain.
I actually find the entire convention burlesque intelluctually insulting. I would say I find it difficult to believe that anyone watches them without a completely cynical reading of them, but then we have to consider what has transpired in America over the past 8 years and how many people still flock to the Republican Party. It is clear there is serious cognitive deficit among the populace.

These shows are a disgraceful waste of resources in too many ways to count. The St. Cindy debacle was just another scene among many that were equally sickening.
I'm adopted and I did find the way the story was told very uncomfortable. It was like Bridget was some kind of charity auction souvenir or something.
Joan, you don't like Cindy McCain helping Mother Teresa and adopting a sick orphan?? Isn't that at least a bit better than a picture of Obama's half-brother living in a shack?

This is what is so unusual about the "liberal" perspective. An actual good deed by an individual is looked down on. Only an impersonal government program is viewed as good. If I tried to make this stuff up, nobody would believe me...
Hi Joan: Yes, there was something uncomfortable and obvious about the way the girl was "displayed" so prominently.

McGarrett: I don't think anyone is disparaging the act of the adoption, merely the flaunting of it as a ploy to garner admiration.
I just don't relate to Cindy McCain, and the more they try to push my buttons to make me see how wonderful she is, I just see ego, noblesse oblige.

I felt very uncomfortable for their daughter Bridget, who clearly wasn't comfortable in the spotlight. They trotted her out as well a few days earlier, when the aid who had adopted the other orphan she brought back spoke about Cindy and her deeds. She looked like she just wanted to sink into the floor.

On another point, which relates to women and image in the campaign, I wonder to what degee Cindy McCain's impossibly coiffed image affects the campaign? It was a shock to wander onto her daughter's blog, and find her at home in jeans and with pony tail, it just seemed a big disconnect. I wonder if image consultants are advising her to wear her hair looser these days, rather than in the precise updos that seems to make her seem austere.

I know, I know..shouldn't matter. But even with the men, image, rolled up shirt sleeves, flag pins, etc. are discussed, and extrapolated into qualities and judgments such as "patriotic," "blue-collar," and others. Pallin's eyewear, and her self professed as "unsexy as possible" hair-do also play into how she is perceived.

Perhaps part of the reason her image comes off as "saintly" is due to the subliminal qualities of how she presents herself.
And I meant to add, it ultimately comes off as just an image that doesn't ring true, whether or not it really is.
"I've been very influenced by the posts of Stellaa and Redstocking Grandma and others, urging people to stay focused on Sarah Palin's retrograde stance on the issues, not on her decisions as a mother"

Well said Joan, and me too.

But I'm still not certain that line in the sand has been drawn correctly. But that's a post for another day.

I didn't see Cindy's act, and having read through here I don't think I'll go watch it. It sounds too painful.
God, I'm feeling old - not as old as McCain - but old. When I read the comment about the "good Republican wool coat" I realized that I remembered Nixon's speech - and in my memory at least it was a "good Republican cloth coat."

I can only hope that word of Mrs. McCain's $300,000 convention clothes budget will be noticed by a few of the people trying to make the payments on their mortgages.
I've been reading Eckart Tolle's Book, A New Earth. The book is largely about ego and the releasing of it. There is a section about politicians and the large egos that are typically involved and the danger of the ego of the collective conscious.

This was the impression I got of the large egomaniac party.

There is a Stepford-wife like quality to Cindy McCain. And bringing out the adopted daughter...I didn't see it but I can only imagine it.

I guess I'm still trying to figure out the rules here. Seems like if focusing on the family is considered off-limits by the Palins and McCains, why is it okay when it's considered

Kid going to Iraq: Talk about It
Down syndrome baby: Talk about It
Pregnant 17 year old: OFF LIMITS

Cute adorable adopted child: Talk About It

How McCain met Cindy: OFF LIMITS

I think I'm seeing the pattern...
This is what is so unusual about the "liberal" perspective. An actual good deed by an individual is looked down on. Only an impersonal government program is viewed as good. If I tried to make this stuff up, nobody would believe me...

Nice try, but the sentiment expressed herein was not "boo to Cindy McCain for adopting an orphan," but "boo to the use of children for cynical marketing purposes."

It's too bad that most conservative responses take the form of sophomoric rhetorical techniques to create and mock / attack / debunk a strawman in the place of what was actually being discussed.

(Did you see what I did there? It's never too late to learn a new trick!)
The first thing that passed my mind when reading this post was :
Johindi as a bad copy of a Brangelina type image.
I sensed that Bridget felt very uncomfortable. I also felt that Cindy went too far with this. I normally don't pay much attention to these types of tributes/speeches because I know they will be super-saccharin - particularly when they're delivered by Republican women. If Cindy were a more engaging and stronger speaker it might have made a bit of difference, but it was yuck-0.
It appeared to me she was naming a bunch of different countries and parading a host of foreign policy credentials she seems to have, in an effort to affect a coup de tart (sorry, that's terribly sexist but I couldn't resist, please feel free to have a cow) and take over the vice presidency nomination and make history by becoming the first woman to be both Vice President and first lady.

This might have been an early sign of presidential cat fighting.
How can anyone who isn't Rip Van Winkle be surprised by Republican shamelessness? Remember the Swift Boat? Remember Vince Foster? The Starr Report?
Haggis, I have two comments so this is a bit longer than I would have hoped...sorry.

I understand the point that people believe they are making about the potential exploitation but am trying to point out that there may be some other underlying resentments. Why? Because people seem so damn passionate about belittling Cindy McCain and Palin. Why not just ignore it? The average voter cuts through this BS using the simplest inattention and forgetfulness. Here at Salon, though? It goes on and on...Palin's mean, she's evil, she's just like my aunt who abuses her children, my psychic abilities give me a bad vibe about her (actual article here!)...on and on. Something is fueling this and I would speculate that is isn't a sudden love of other people's adopted children.

Regarding: your comment: ...Nice try, but the sentiment expressed herein was not "boo to Cindy McCain for adopting an orphan," but "boo to the use of children for cynical marketing purposes."...

The modern Democratic Party's whole method of government is based on the idea of exploiting people as victims in order to win elections and increase government power in our society. John Edwards was the worst but Al Gore's lecture at one of the debates about the old woman not having money for prescription drugs is another example. Almost every Democratic economic policy is premised on the idea that some people are victims and the government needs to step in. I honestly can't think of any policy proposals that are based on the idea of empowering people as individuals. I'm sure there are a few but it's clearly not a foundational principle for the Dems. So, this exploitation street runs both ways and the Dems have a freight train of emotional exploitation running on their side.
St. Cindy? Not! Where John would like to promote "country first" Cindy's version is "Cindy first!"

Let’s be fair and say she is trying to do some good work raising awareness of world health issues however it comes off looking like rich white guilt. Her version of giving back to the “community.” Let’s give her some points for trying to do something.

The problem is the “real” Cindy is selfish. Her biological Dad had at least one if not two other children, one of which he directly supported (including grandchildren) up to his death at which point Cindy, the primary benefactor is his will, cut her off. Worse she claims to be an only child. What a kind hearted woman.

Good thing she has a prenep, because John’s new trophy, Sarah Palin, already has John wrapped around her manipulating finger.
Hi Joan-

I'll allow the McCains a gimme on Bridget. They deserve to get a little mileage after what happened in 2000. Were I less cynical I might muse that it's testament to how far we've come that what in 2000 was a liability can now be touted as an asset.

But if we've come so far why is the Party In Power betting we'll buy their message of "change"?

My thoughts about Palin are these-yes, we should keep the family out of bounds. Not in the name of fairness--after all it was the McCain campaign itself who trotted Bristol Palin out on stage and displayed her prominently during the convention--but of pragmatism. The campaign and its surrogates have demonstrated their apt grasp of the mechanics of backlash, and any perceived fixation on the daughters will be visited on the media tenfold.
Joan, I agree with you about Saint Cindy. Not only did she use her adopted daughter, but they had the father of the other child she brought back to introduce her. I think Saint Cindy McCharity is running to replace the late Princess Dianna as globe trotting humanitarian.

How about doing so charitable work and adoptions here in the good old US of A, Saint Cindy!
I think that on those occasions where one has no one to extol one's virtues, and one has been vilified by Creeps; one might be excused by informing the world of their accomplishments themselves.

However, and it is a pointed however, in this case, certainly the McCain’s can afford to hire a biographer to do paint the picture the proper colors. Were I her, I would have had someone do my bio and point out my accomplishments. However, Joanne, please do try to remember, the people supporting these Neo-con Republicans (whether McCain admits to being one, his arguments are moot because he has accepted help from them) and they consist of several types:

1)-The monumentally, Criminally, Hell-bound, Avaricious. So greedy that even Satan doesn’t want one living in his neighborhood.

2)-The phenomenally, mentally, disabled.

3)-The diabolically, violently, Hate-filled. So hateful that they even hate their entire string of ancestors right to the gateway of their origins, after they found that their heritage is infested with Rat and Dung eating insect genes.

4)-The abdominally, disgustingly, degradingly, stupid. (Stupid is fine if the stupid ones shut the Hell up and not display their lack of intelligence to the world and try hard to learn something, without letting on that they are about 4 IQ points below that of a hunk of lead.)

5)-The the slack-jawed, drooling, incredibly, Clueless, which may also fall into any of the above categories also.

Therefore, there you have it.
This is my first post to any political blog so hope I do it right. On the question of Cindy McCain's possible exploitation of her child, by the time the focus was on her I had been numbed by the overall depressingly deja vu impression of the whole convention as layers of phonyness, misrepresentation, downright lies, and meanness masquerading as small-town virtue. By their sleazy standards, showing off the families the way they did looked grotesquely "natural". Now could someone please tell me if there is a text of Cindy's interminable speech somewhere? I ask because at one point I could swear she said, in the context of individuals reaching out to help each other, that the victims of Hurricane Katrina had only needed the government to step aside and get out of their way (I'm paraphrasing). Can she really have meant that the problem was not too little government intervention in that disaster, but too much? If that is what she really said, what a rare and appalling moment of Republican candor. I'd like to verify what my horrified ears heard. Thanks.
The video left out St. Cindy's use of her charity, American Voluntary Medical Team, as her private medicine cabinet to feed her drug addiction to prescription painkillers. They also left out the part where she used the names of employees to obtain prescriptions. The details of this and the coverup that followed are in the 9/8/94 Phoenix New Times article 'Opiate for the Mrs.' by Amy Silverman and Jeremy Voas
The manipulation of children for the political gain of their mothers is reprehensible. Cindy McCain is guilty as charged, and (sorry Joan!) so is Sara Palin and we need to talk about it because it goes to character...that photo where the down's syndrome baby is used to camouflage Bristol's baby bump is way too cunning a maneuver. (And why would you saddle your pregnant teen with the weight of that baby?)Bottom line-- They (Sara & Cindy) are two peas in a pun intended. Also...let's not forget how much Cindy wants to be First Lady. She was rarely seen with her husband over the course of his ENTIRE Senate career and now she's with him every day and in most every photo op. Funny-odd isn't it?
I've been disturbed by the negative turn this entire campaign has taken since Palin got in the race. I find her a set back for women everywhere when it comes to really "playing with the big boys." I guess having seen such class with Hillary in her run (even when she had to get down and dirty with the boys) that is makes all this "pitbull-ish" behavior seem crass and trashy. It brings a Jerry-Springer-type vibe to the entire race. The littlest girl licking the baby's hair like that on national televison during a historical moment, as if it were something she does all the time, but her mother is gone so much that basic etiquette protocol is absent from her little life. Now that is on film to be shown and made jokes by late night talk show hosts, and it goes around the country. As a mother of 2 daughters, now grown, and a grandmother, I waited until my kids were old enough to stay home by themselves before going back to college and eventually opening my own business. I taught my girls the FACTS OF LIFE and instilled dignity and respect for themselves...real VALUES. Look how beautifully Chelsea Clinton turned out. Again, a testament to Hillary's classy style.

What troubles me most with Cindy is that she hasn't had Bridget with her on the trail at most of the events and it was not until the convention that she started showing up. The "real" daughter was always present; blonde hair flowing, smiling, looking like a cookie cutter of mom....where is where to be found. That has to be hard for Bridget; being dragged out for display and to try and give SOME COLOR to the otherwise sea of white and a few specs in the clouds.

And, my heart went out to Bristol standing all that time pregnant and sweating under those hot lights. She must have felt aweful.

Lastly, I am outraged that nobody is talking about the risk that Bristol put herself in for sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, Herpes, etc. Teen pregnancy is so prevalent in this country and I understand Alaska has that shortage of women, so sex education should be paramount. Who knows what goes on with teens unless you're around to supervise them YOURSELF. Nothing substitutes for a mother's nurturing for a young woman. Nothing.

True sacrifice is making sure you are there for your children to help them stand tall in life until they can stand up on their own.

Chelsea H, one of the best posts I've read on this issue. I've sworn myself to stay off the subject from here on in, but I did have to comment on this one. Clearly, you have great insight here.

Thanks for sharing.
Cindy is as scary as John.
I find the whole "motherhood" angle being played in this election more than a little bizarre. For years we have right wing ideologues telling us we were all going to hell for being single mothers, lesbian mothers or just working mothers and now people like James Dobson are telling us we should be proud of Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain for exploiting their children to boost their political credentials? It is absolutely disgusting and more than a bit surreal.
I hate all this kid stuff. To me it should end with "I want you to meet my family" then their done. No details no nothing, their done.

Now there are some older kids in play this election cycle. If the child wants to work to get their parent elected then they put themselves out there with everybody else.

I don't like the McCain's bringing their children out. I also understand they hiding the sons in the military. Think what would happen if one of them fell into the wrong hands.

On the other hand, I didn't like the appearance of Sen Obama's kids either. Introduce them, send them home.

The best thing the Clinton's ever did, if you agreed with their political points or not, is they kept their daughter out of it. It's stretching my memory so somebody may have to correct me on this one, but I don't remember the Carter's letting their daughter be public.

And for the old guy president's like Reagan, his kids were old enough to make their own decisions if they wanted to play or not. If they did, their in. If they wanted to be private and stayed out of what is going on, then they are out.
You mean Bridget isn't John McCain and Halle Berry's love child? I would think fat, bald white men are irresistible to most black women. Christ knows, he can dance.
Cindy McCain makes me uncomfortable. She just looks like she's about to fly into pieces every time I see her. And did you notice the sudden change of hairdo when Sarah Palin came on the scene?? The dead-end Heather Locklear down-do? Augghh. And she kept on with it--it just said to me, "desperate woman." I just feel terrible whenever I look at her, let alone whatever she chooses to do on camera. I will NEVER NEVER do a cartoon with her in it.
As an adoptive mother myself, I cringed. Adoption is about loving a child and wanting to parent, not about doing a good deed. People have said to me "Oh, you were so brave to adopt!" and I answer, "No more brave than it would be to give birth. I wanted to be a mother. It's that simple."
Because none of us can choose our parents, we've become very protective of the children of political figures. Rightly so.

My heart broke for Chelsea Clinton when John McCain pulled off a joke at a Republican fundraiser in 1998--a joke that that family values crowd should have booed him off the dais for saying--"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."

Guffaws ensued and Rush Limbaugh almost took a shine to McCain for a while.

Shame on the McCains for now using their child as a prop: and beware!

I'm not saying this because of any tit-for-tat kind of retribution impulse--and I hope no one seriously thinks that that would be okay.

It's just that this is the Princess Di, problem, isn't it?

It's very hard for the public (read, the infotainment media) to make a distinction between the kind of press being cultivated by a public figure--say, attention to the cause of landmines that Diana Spencer was such a strong champion of--to the unasked-for and unwelcome attention of whom Spencer happened to be seeing romantically or how much she spent on her clothing.

We used to know which kind of information was news and which was gossip. And this blurring of the front page and the lifestyle page, this lack of discernment, is the crux of our 24-hour, creepy-crawly, hyperactive media problem.
I was taught that if you do a 'good deed' you never let the recipient feel that it was charity, you make the recipient feel like they did you a favor. And you never talk about it in public. So things like this usually turn my stomach.
No authenticity whatsoever in this woman. She played "the race of my baby" card. Makes my stomach turn television.