September 02, 2008

Must Read: The "Invisible Preganacies" of Presidential Candidates' Daughters
— Ace

A good point and I'm surprised Slate is making it.

Although it would be unnecessarily cruel and invasive to wonder about which specific daughters of previous presidential and vice presidential candidates may have had an "invisible pregnancy" -- that is, one terminated by abortion -- it's less invasive to simply take the cohort as a group and play the percentages game.

Saletan here, for reasons I would call "mystifying" but are anything but, restricts the possible candidates to those between ages 17 and 30 when their fathers stood for election, rather than stood for election and then served, which is an utterly contrived parameter designed specifically to exclude Chelsea Clinton (who was of course dating during her dad's term, and was 16 when he ran for re-election) from consideration. Note how they yet bend over backwards to refrain from smearing a child whose parents they like.

Nevertheless, that's a minor quibble, and if Saletan had to do that to get his piece published and/or not send liberals screaming blue murder, fine, we'll work with his transparently contrived parameters. There's no particular reason we need Chelsea Clinton in the cohort.

Doesn't matter. Might be even better if we didn't name any particular names listed at all (just ages) and just dealt with the presidential daughters as pure actuarial abstractions, anyhow. We don't care which of the presidential and vice presidential daughters may have become pregnant; that's their business.

We only care about the likelihoods that one or several of them have been pregnant, "invisibly," at some point, whomever they might be.

An unintended pregnancy rate of 6 to 7 percent, in a population of 37 women, means two to three pregnancies per year. Even if you discount the rate further, on the grounds that these are the wealthiest and best-educated families, the notion that none of these young women got knocked up before their parents' nominations or elections is—pardon the term—almost inconceivable....

Most unintended pregnancies in the higher income and education brackets end in abortion.

Remember that before you judge or poke fun at Sarah Palin. She's not the candidate whose daughter messed up. She's the candidate who didn't get rid of the mess.

Have all the presidential and vice presidential daughters really all been either abstinent, infertile, or extraordinarily well-disciplined in using birth control properly, even during those fumbling and reckless late teenaged years? Extraordinarily doubtful.

Bristol Palin is an anomaly, and is a first, and is noteworthy. And she is, I suppose, therefore worthy of media commentary, but not for the reason they insist--

She's the only one who decided to have her baby rather than abort it.

She's not the first one with a little secret. Just the first one whose little secret was allowed to grow into a bigger secret and then into something not a secret at all.

Why Restrict This to Daughters? All of the sons, too, would have been involved in unintended pregnancies at equal rates. Their pregnancies, too, have remained "invisible."

Why Restrict This to Presidents and Vice Presidents? Congress is a big, bustling place, with hundreds of families and one or two thousand sons/daughters of sexually mature age at any time.

And yet the institution seems remarkably pristine of embarrassing, distracting, "punishing" (as Barack Obama might say) out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

Is it just the super-duper deluxe contraception available in the congressional commissary? Seems unlikely.

And Hey... Since we're opening up the question -- and since it is the media, specifically, that is descending upon this girl like ravenous jackals -- Why not consider all of the media's rather exceptional good fortune at not conceiving except precisely when they wish to, and how that great fortune is equally visited upon their sons and daughters as well?

Hey, Campbell Brown--

You seem to have had good luck in the conception-at-convenient-times lottery.

Obviously you're a lucky woman.

Were you lucky before the fact or lucky after the fact?

Assuming this Story Gets Any Media Play... and I think it will, actually, given that the media is hungry for stories about the Great National Bristol Palin Pregnancy Crisis (Day 3: America Waits), how much you want to be the media illustrates this only with pictures and video of the Bush twins?

Posted by: Ace at 10:26 PM | Comments (30)
Post contains 722 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Wow, that was a powerful POWERFUL article, and ended poignantly, profoundly, and even sadly beautifully.

Usual I think your posts are very insightful which is why, despite your profane nature (which I share at times, but generally don't like in writers), you're probably my favourite political blogger, and one of my favourite writers. I mean that.

But in this case, I'm talking about Slate's William Saletan. Full kudos to him. It was a well-researched, eminently logical, conservatively tabulated piece... with an eloquent fitting ending I didn't see coming.

Posted by: Christoph at September 02, 2008 10:40 PM (hawOV)

2 One thing I'll add is while this reflects well on Sarah Palin, supporting her daughter instead of evilly recommending an abortion as too many do, it reflects profoundly well on Bristol Palin, and I suspect also Levi Johnston.

I have affectionate feelings toward Bristol. They come from many sources.

No, not her age or looks, although youth is attractive and she is beautiful. It's partly because she is so put upon by evil vultures on the left and in the media as if there's a difference. I'm sure I'm not the only male here to feel a certain desire to protect her. I'm sure many women here feel that way too.

No, the main reason is the fact this shows character and moral goodness. She has and will make many mistakes in her life. If I'm going to be honest about it, I fully expect her to make less than I.

Doing the right thing, carrying her baby to term which really should be automatic, but so often isn't, is wonderful. Why? Life.

Posted by: Christoph at September 02, 2008 10:46 PM (hawOV)


Was it Ford's kid who was accused of this back in the seventies?

She was treated as a wild child, and there were rumors of her pro-choice/pro-abortion stance at the time, and she was, WAS painted as a whore.

Weren't there rumors like this back at ford?

Posted by: wickedpinto at September 02, 2008 10:50 PM (ul7te)

4 /sarc

Well you know, we would only have to consider the sons and daughters of "Rethuglican"  office holders, because they want to shove their values down our throats. Hence the """Hypocrisy"""

/sarc off

Seriously though, I can't believe that in the 232 years of this country that Bristol is the first child of a nationally elected official, but she damn sure the first one our beloved deciders make an issue of.

Makes me sick

Posted by: sundanceloki at September 02, 2008 10:57 PM (PUQ+8)

5 sorry that should read, -- first child of a nationally elected official to go through an unwed pregnancy..--- . Its getting late here

Posted by: sundanceloki at September 02, 2008 10:59 PM (PUQ+8)

6 The Obamabots are not happy about this article, and they're all descending upon Saletan over there.

Posted by: Kensington at September 02, 2008 11:00 PM (xFNQx)

7 What the hell is Ace doing blogging at this hour in NY? I'm in CA, and I'm slowly tapering off the anticipation of tomorrow's developments. NY is 3 freakin' hours ahead!!

Posted by: cthulhu at September 02, 2008 11:01 PM (yDRXW)


 -- first child of a nationally elected official to go through an unwed pregnancy..---

of course, if Levi announces a wedding in the very near future, then the libs will claim "No fair! You're only marrying her because we brought this issue to light...blah, blah, blah".

You can never win with libs, if you let them decide what constitutes a win.

Posted by: scrood at September 02, 2008 11:06 PM (1dOyI)

9 In case anyone's thinking that the crapload of pictures of Sarah Palin fully pregnant, or The One telling *snigger* the bloggers to *bwhaha* cut it out, had done anything to slow the moonbats down in pushing the "Sarah is Trig's grandmother" story, you're so so so so wrong.

Just found this a few minutes ago - another "Bristol is fair game" screed (hilariously using John Edwards to bolster his case):

Some choice quotes from the comments:

"Hey, come on, guys! No way can a woman handle this job, right? She has harmones every month and would have her finger on the nuclear button if she had a bad day or someone looked at her wrong! She has five kids that we are having to pay to raise, so it is our business if she has all these kids and then wants to live free on taxpayers. Go OBAMA!!!!"

"DNA testing for the whole northern redneck Palin clan. We can't wait for the movie! Jed and Granny Clampett!"

"Maybe Bristol is not Trig's mother ...but there are 3 other adult children in the Palin family ...maybe one of them? I find it hard to swallow that a woman who already had 4 grown children would elect to have a 5th at the age of 44 ! It seems logical that a 4 month old baby would belong to someone much younger ...Am I making sense ?

"If the 6 and 7 month photos are to be believed of the Governor, but so too are the ones online at 8 months (provided by Republicans bloggers), I think there is a prosthetic device being employed here that could just as easily be worn by the daughter now to continue the story-line. (See sample here:

I intend to continue my policy of not insulting honest hard working intestinal tapeworms, lice and diseased rats by referring to these posters as vermin.


Posted by: Qwinn at September 02, 2008 11:08 PM (3FVXC)


I'm not sure I completely buy Saletan's numbers. Assuming an annual unintended pregnancy rate of 3%, there's still a 32% chance that none of the 37 women would have gotten pregnant in any one year. And assuming that average time in office and campaigning is only about 2.5 years (because only one pair of candidates gets elected), that means that there's still about a 6% chance that none of the women ever got pregnant during the period we're looking at. Granted this is pretty small, but I wouldn't call it 'inconceivable'.

Plus I know he excluded her, but I would put big money on Amy Carter. 

Posted by: Maetenloch at September 02, 2008 11:09 PM (v7QJF)


of course, if Levi announces a wedding in the very near future, then the libs will claim "No fair!

Too late scrood,  MTV, already used a Myspace survey as PROOF! that Levi doesn't want the kid.

Which of course is retarded, because, I would guess, that he stopped paying much attention to his myspace place when he realized he knocked up the governors daughter.  A Badass Governor, married to a Badass.

Posted by: wickedpinto at September 02, 2008 11:13 PM (ul7te)

12 For more fun and games, check out -- just by eyeball, Bristol Palin can do whatever she pleases in all but 9 states. The states with AOC at 18 are: Arizona, California, Florida, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Posted by: cthulhu at September 02, 2008 11:29 PM (yDRXW)


Consider if he used the the periods when someone was running or SERVING as pres or vice president.

That's a lot more time, a couple of more daughters, a lot more premarital sex and lot more chances for an accident.

Yeah, I know he was playing games with the ages and times, but what I'm saying is that even with an expanded pool (n=42) and timeline, there's still at least a 4% chance that none of the women ever had got pregnant. If 4% is 'inconceivably' small, then so is the chance of a woman having an unintended pregnancy in any one year. And yet we know it happens.

ok, ok I'll stop the math quibbling.

Posted by: Maetenloch at September 02, 2008 11:41 PM (v7QJF)

14 I think the numbers are accidentally stupided-up because they're in Slate. What the hell is that "2-3 per year" garbage? He's not looking at a group of the same 37 women over a period of several years, he's looking at 2-4 women at a time for about a year apiece. The expectation is 2-3 pregnancies to date.

Slate blows. Mickey Kaus and Hitch should get separate pages, without all those links to annoying Slate crap.

Posted by: bgates at September 02, 2008 11:47 PM (CFjXn)


If you're doing statistics, you should lump in the adult members of Congress, not just their children - I think it is more likely that mistresses have been forced to get abortions than the kids. 

Posted by: dusty at September 03, 2008 12:15 AM (w0NJA)

16 how much you want to be the media illustrates this only with pictures and video of the Bush twins?

McCain has a daughter, too...

Posted by: bunny boy at September 03, 2008 02:26 AM (I645x)

17 Why Restrict This to Daughters? All of the sons, too, would have been involved in unintended pregnancies at equal rates. Their pregnancies, too, have remained "invisible."

Why restrict this to daughters AND sons? Include siblings and last but not least the vast majority of politicians themselves that had sex outside of marriage that led to terminated relationships and terminated pregnancies. All swept under the rug, or water under the bridge a la Kennedy.

During his absences from high school attendance, don't think for a minute that beer or illicit drugs were the limits of Obama's extracurricular activities. Teens "practice" safe sex while drunk or drugged? Obama's habit of dumping didn't come from nowhere, "That's not the girl I thought I knew."

Posted by: I ain't Obama's granny at September 03, 2008 02:28 AM (F1b/5)


Anyone who thinks Al Gore's daughter and son never got knocked up or knocked anyone up is a moron.  How about that tit-showing slut Alexandra Kerry?  Anyone think she did the deed?  We know Bill Clinton was getting blow jobs from Eleanor Mondale in the Oval Office - how do we know she didn't abort his baby?

Why do people think Democrats fight so hard to keep abortion legal?  This is not brain surgery!

Posted by: rockmom at September 03, 2008 03:28 AM (iZqUY)

19 Al Gore is a man of many 1st-s.

Have you seen those pictures of him lately.  He's kind of packing on the pounds .. he's got to be at least 17 stone.

Maybe .. just maybe .. Al Gore is pregnant.

I have not proof.  But since when has that mattered to this discussion.

Posted by: Neo at September 03, 2008 04:21 AM (Yozw9)

20 Short of suicide bombing the offices of CNN, anyone have any ideas of fighting back against the media? I don't have any more subscriptions to cancel, but I can't take this shit any longer.

Posted by: adolfo_velasquez at September 03, 2008 04:38 AM (yGVfg)


Why Restrict This to Daughters?

Why Restrict This to Presidents and Vice Presidents?

That would mean we are including the Kennedy Klan?  I would think that would elevate it to a statistical certainty.  Even if you exclude cases where they snuffed the mother, too.

Posted by: B Moe at September 03, 2008 04:58 AM (8SxEl)

22 If you flipped this around it would be just as bad. Can you imagine freepers accusing Michele Obama of multiple abortions during her youth when Obama made an attempt to reach out to evangelical voters? Release your medical records and prove you did not have six abortions!!!! Then the press would say, is personal, but this raises an important issue about birth control. Fuck these people and fuck everyone who goes near Kos from now on.

lol, has anybody noticed that Chris Matthews hair has been messed up since Palin was picked.

Posted by: bleh at September 03, 2008 05:14 AM (GNCy6)


Saletan says if Palin's daughter got an abortion, we would never know.  Just like we will never know what Jeri Ryan alleged as grounds for divorce against Jack Ryan. 

Posted by: Bud Norton at September 03, 2008 06:27 AM (6cOMd)

24 Statistically speaking, do butt babies count?

Posted by: Keif Obertwat at September 03, 2008 06:40 AM (zAvxs)


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Posted by: David M at September 03, 2008 07:43 AM (gIAM9)

26 One reason Chelsea Clinton probably wasn't a contender in the invisible pregnancy sweepstakes is that her parents undoubtedly made sure she knew how birth control works.

Posted by: WHITE DOG at September 03, 2008 01:37 PM (ZK4jL)

27 One point about all the abstinence education yowling that I have not seen...

Just because someone thinks that contraception should not be taught BY THE SCHOOLS, it in no way means that person feels information on contraception should not be taught AT ALL. Perhaps that person feels that it is an infringement on the roles of parents to have schools discussing contraceptives. Perhaps those people prefer to educate their children on contraception themselves.

Posted by: Amelia at September 03, 2008 06:22 PM (JeEZ/)

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