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September 03, 2008

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

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?

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posted by Ace at 03:26 AM

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