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Published:September 11th, 2008 18:05 EST
Is Sarah Palin Exploiting Trig?: Reader Feedback

Is Sarah Palin Exploiting Trig?: Reader Feedback

By Robert Paul Reyes

In a recent essay I tackled this question posed by June Kronholz of the Wall Street Journal:

"Little Trig Palin prompted more than delegate coos when he joined his mother on stage at the Republican convention. He also raised new questions among parents whose children have disabilities.

Was Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin simply including her 5-month-old son, who has Down syndrome, in a big family moment, or was she exploiting him in a tight presidential campaign?"

I made the argument that Palin is exploiting her son for political gain.

"Trig`s deep aspiration is not to help the McCain/Palin ticket solidify the GOP base; he cares only about getting nourishment and attention from his Mom. Trig`s place is not before a crowd of hundreds or thousands on the campaign trail, he should be at home in his crib. If his mother has no time to take care of him, she should leave him in the capable hands of a nanny.

In her acceptance speech at the convention Palin promised parents of children with special needs that she would advocate for their cause. But you don`t have to use your own Down syndrome baby as a prop to effectively campaign on their behalf."

Sarah Palin Is Exploiting Trig, Her Baby With Down Syndrome

My article elicited a lot of comments, all of them lambasting me for being either stupid or insensitive.

"To say that Sarah Palin is exploiting Trig is, quite frankly, asinine. He is a part of her family. If she left him home, I can guarantee you that people who want to find fault with her no matter what would say that she won`t appear in public with him because she is ashamed of him. Get over it already.

Kathy R mother to a 10 yr old son with Ds who (of course) goes with the rest of our family wherever we go)"

My response:

The rigors of the campaign take their toll on seasoned politicians; the incessant travel is difficult and stressful for a baby who craves a sense of normalcy. But my main objection is not that Palin lugs her baby around on the campaign trail, but that she holds him up like a prop.

*****************************

"As a mother who has to work and chose to breastfeed all four of her children, I am appalled at your attack on Sarah Palin a breastfeeding Mother for keeping her child close to her so she can feed him.

I am also the Mother of a child with Down syndrome......keeping my child with me at all times gave her the opportunity to blossom and grow into an amazing young child.

If Trig did not have Down syndrome, I do not think you would be bashing his Mother for doing for him, what millions of caring Mother`s do for their children....providing them with the most perfect of foods [unless you are somehow connected to the billion dollar formula industry] and attachment parenting. A child should be with their Mother if it is possible, and thank goodness many American businesses have realized that allowing Mothers to bring their infants to work with them.

So now you are telling me that Mothers here in America and around the world that wear their babies, nurse them and nurture them are doing so for political gain.

By-the-way, I`m an Independent voter who has never missed an election since becoming of the age to vote at 18. I have voted Democratic and I have voted Republican."

Tara Marie H.

My Response:

Running for vice-president is not a normal job; it`s an all-consuming passion that takes up almost all of your time and energy. It`s impossible for Governor Palin to properly take care for her children, and to run for vice-president at the same time. No reasonable adult would think less of Palin if she hired a nanny or nurse to take care of Trig. While Palin is giving speeches and getting up to speed on a hundred and one issues she knows nothing about, Trig can stay in a quiet hotel room with a nanny. There is no need for Palin to exhibit her infant in front of loud and screaming crowds.

*********************************

"And, of course, if Palin left Trig at home, a whole group of other people would say she was ashamed of him. I have read numerous parents of disabled children sharing how proud they were that Sarah did NOT leave Trig at home, hiding him away like an embarrassment. Instead, she has him out there like the rest of her family. Similarly, those who say she should not have him on the trail - you know there would be the comments if indeed he was at home being cared for by someone else that she was not a good mom, ignoring Trig and not serving as his mother if she`d left him at home. She can`t win!"

Barbara S.

My response:

There is a middle ground between keeping Trig at home, and holding him up as a prop before huge crowds. Trig can stay in a hotel room with a responsible adult while his mother woos the crowds.

You`re right she can`t win, and she should have realized that when she accepted McCain`s offer to be his running mate. You can`t tend to the needs of four young children, including a pregnant 17-year old and an infant with Down syndrome, and run on a national ticket at the same time. Like any candidate for high office Palin will undergo harsh criticism for every decision she makes, if she can`t stand the heat, she should get out of the kitchen.

**********************************

"I read your op-ed piece about Sarah Palin`s "exploiting" her baby with Down Syndrome for political gain.

I am the mother of a daughter with Down Syndrome. You must be unaware of issues concerning visibility. I don`t know any people with family members with Down Syndrome who don`t love them, but I know many who tend to keep their family members "discreetly" hidden away. It isn`t easy having a child people stare at. It`s sort of humiliating, you know. The hardest thing for a parent of a child with Down Syndrome is to brave constant, disapproving looks in public. But kids with Down`s - more than any others - desperately need the stimulation provided by interacting with the greatest number of people. Unlike some other disabilities (notably autism), kids with Down`s can develop excellent, even normal social skills if given the chance. But so many parents do not give them the chance. They are ashamed.

What Sarah Palin did was help to give all parents of kids with Down`s the courage to face down all the stares, all the cruel remarks. She told them it was OK to be proud of your kid with Down`s - something we all already knew, but something that it is sometimes difficult to put into practice. It takes guts.

I am a liberal Democrat, I do not adhere to Sarah Palin`s politics, but "showing off" her son at the Republican National Convention was the single most moving, inspiring moment for the parents of all children with Down Syndrome.

You mention the Kennedys` keeping their sister - Rosemary - discreetly hidden away. Yes, that`s the problem. The Kennedy`s and the Shrivers have done enormous amounts of good for people with learning disabilities. But their own family member was lobotomized - possibly Joe Kennedy thought that was a good solution but they took a mildly handicapped young woman and turned her into a vegetable - they could no longer take her out in public. So there is guilt in their actions, more than love I think.

I hope Arthur Miller`s abandoned son saw Sarah Palin. I bet he admires her, too."

Mary R

My response:

A baby, whether he has Down Syndrome or not, needs to be in a safe and quiet environment. If Palin kept her baby away from the crowds, that wouldn`t mean she was ashamed of him or trying to hide him.

As for Ted Kennedy, he is not responsible for the actions of his father.

****************************************

"Trig Palin has done more for Down syndrome awareness than anyone in history. In a society where 90% of mothers abort their baby when they receive a prenatal diagnosis, those of us who advocate for people with Down syndrome are grateful for Trig`s timely visibility.

Ted Kennedy is no friend to the disabled. He is a pseudo-Catholic hypocrite who doesn`t even believe Trig has a basic right to life."

Judie H (mother of Christi H, 29, Mosaic Down syndrome.

My response:

Trig hasn`t done Jack for Down syndrome awareness; he is an innocent child who is blissfully unaware of the machinations swirling around him.

****************************************

"Why is it that you feel she is exploiting Trig by bringing him with the rest of her family? Had she not brought him you would be all over that too. Saying she is hiding him away, ashamed. There is absolutely no way to please some people; they look for the negative in everything. Why don`t you try being unbiased for once? Too hard to do? What about the Obama`s, they had their children on stage. They sure are cute kids. Did I see you screaming exploitation there? I don`t think so.

News should report the news, not make biased comments and stories. To have simply said she brought her entire family on stage was sufficient. As did Obama. Biased reporting is not reporting but opinion speaking, save that for the table talk. It does not belong in a newspaper article."

Julie R.

My response:

It looks like you missed reading these two paragraphs from my essay:

I`m sick of the spectacle of candidates, both Republican and Democrats, campaigning with their children in tow. Leave the damn kids at home; I`m not going to vote for a candidate because he or she has cute kids who have been trained to smile on cue.

Obama is also guilty of exploiting his children for political gain. His adorable daughters didn`t belong on the stage at the Democratic convention; they should have been watching the festivities from the audience.

Thanks for all of your letters.In a recent essay I tackled this question posed by June Kronholz of the Wall Street Journal:

"Little Trig Palin prompted more than delegate coos when he joined his mother on stage at the Republican convention. He also raised new questions among parents whose children have disabilities.

Was Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin simply including her 5-month-old son, who has Down syndrome, in a big family moment, or was she exploiting him in a tight presidential campaign?"

I made the argument that Palin is exploiting her son for political gain.

"Trig`s deep aspiration is not to help the McCain/Palin ticket solidify the GOP base; he cares only about getting nourishment and attention from his Mom. Trig`s place is not before a crowd of hundreds or thousands on the campaign trail, he should be at home in his crib. If his mother has no time to take care of him, she should leave him in the capable hands of a nanny.

In her acceptance speech at the convention Palin promised parents of children with special needs that she would advocate for their cause. But you don`t have to use your own Down syndrome baby as a prop to effectively campaign on their behalf."

Sarah Palin Is Exploiting Trig, Her Baby With Down Syndrome

My article elicited a lot of comments, all of them lambasting me for being either stupid or insensitive.

"To say that Sarah Palin is exploiting Trig is, quite frankly, asinine. He is a part of her family. If she left him home, I can guarantee you that people who want to find fault with her no matter what would say that she won`t appear in public with him because she is ashamed of him. Get over it already.

Kathy R mother to a 10 yr old son with Ds who (of course) goes with the rest of our family wherever we go)"

My response:

The rigors of the campaign take their toll on seasoned politicians; the incessant travel is difficult and stressful for a baby who craves a sense of normalcy. But my main objection is not that Palin lugs her baby around on the campaign trail, but that she holds him up like a prop.

*****************************

"As a mother who has to work and chose to breastfeed all four of her children, I am appalled at your attack on Sarah Palin a breastfeeding Mother for keeping her child close to her so she can feed him.

I am also the Mother of a child with Down syndrome......keeping my child with me at all times gave her the opportunity to blossom and grow into an amazing young child.

If Trig did not have Down syndrome, I do not think you would be bashing his Mother for doing for him, what millions of caring Mother`s do for their children....providing them with the most perfect of foods [unless you are somehow connected to the billion dollar formula industry] and attachment parenting. A child should be with their Mother if it is possible, and thank goodness many American businesses have realized that allowing Mothers to bring their infants to work with them.

So now you are telling me that Mothers here in America and around the world that wear their babies, nurse them and nurture them are doing so for political gain.

By-the-way, I`m an Independent voter who has never missed an election since becoming of the age to vote at 18. I have voted Democratic and I have voted Republican."

Tara Marie H.

My Response:

Running for vice-president is not a normal job; it`s an all-consuming passion that takes up almost all of your time and energy. It`s impossible for Governor Palin to properly take care for her children, and to run for vice-president at the same time. No reasonable adult would think less of Palin if she hired a nanny or nurse to take care of Trig. While Palin is giving speeches and getting up to speed on a hundred and one issues she knows nothing about, Trig can stay in a quiet hotel room with a nanny. There is no need for Palin to exhibit her infant in front of loud and screaming crowds.

*********************************

"And, of course, if Palin left Trig at home, a whole group of other people would say she was ashamed of him. I have read numerous parents of disabled children sharing how proud they were that Sarah did NOT leave Trig at home, hiding him away like an embarrassment. Instead, she has him out there like the rest of her family. Similarly, those who say she should not have him on the trail - you know there would be the comments if indeed he was at home being cared for by someone else that she was not a good mom, ignoring Trig and not serving as his mother if she`d left him at home. She can`t win!"

Barbara S.

My response:

There is a middle ground between keeping Trig at home, and holding him up as a prop before huge crowds. Trig can stay in a hotel room with a responsible adult while his mother woos the crowds.

You`re right she can`t win, and she should have realized that when she accepted McCain`s offer to be his running mate. You can`t tend to the needs of four young children, including a pregnant 17-year old and an infant with Down syndrome, and run on a national ticket at the same time. Like any candidate for high office Palin will undergo harsh criticism for every decision she makes, if she can`t stand the heat, she should get out of the kitchen.

**********************************

"I read your op-ed piece about Sarah Palin`s "exploiting" her baby with Down Syndrome for political gain.

I am the mother of a daughter with Down Syndrome. You must be unaware of issues concerning visibility. I don`t know any people with family members with Down Syndrome who don`t love them, but I know many who tend to keep their family members "discreetly" hidden away. It isn`t easy having a child people stare at. It`s sort of humiliating, you know. The hardest thing for a parent of a child with Down Syndrome is to brave constant, disapproving looks in public. But kids with Down`s - more than any others - desperately need the stimulation provided by interacting with the greatest number of people. Unlike some other disabilities (notably autism), kids with Down`s can develop excellent, even normal social skills if given the chance. But so many parents do not give them the chance. They are ashamed.

What Sarah Palin did was help to give all parents of kids with Down`s the courage to face down all the stares, all the cruel remarks. She told them it was OK to be proud of your kid with Down`s - something we all already knew, but something that it is sometimes difficult to put into practice. It takes guts.

I am a liberal Democrat, I do not adhere to Sarah Palin`s politics, but "showing off" her son at the Republican National Convention was the single most moving, inspiring moment for the parents of all children with Down Syndrome.

You mention the Kennedys` keeping their sister - Rosemary - discreetly hidden away. Yes, that`s the problem. The Kennedy`s and the Shrivers have done enormous amounts of good for people with learning disabilities. But their own family member was lobotomized - possibly Joe Kennedy thought that was a good solution but they took a mildly handicapped young woman and turned her into a vegetable - they could no longer take her out in public. So there is guilt in their actions, more than love I think.

I hope Arthur Miller`s abandoned son saw Sarah Palin. I bet he admires her, too."

Mary R

My response:

A baby, whether he has Down syndrome or not, needs to be in a safe and quiet environment. If Palin kept her baby away from the crowds, that wouldn`t mean she was ashamed of him or trying to hide him.

As for Ted Kennedy, he is not responsible for the actions of his father.

****************************************

"Trig Palin has done more for Down syndrome awareness than anyone in history. In a society where 90% of mothers abort their baby when they receive a prenatal diagnosis, those of us who advocate for people with Down syndrome are grateful for Trig`s timely visibility.

Ted Kennedy is no friend to the disabled. He is a pseudo-Catholic hypocrite who doesn`t even believe Trig has a basic right to life."

Judie H (mother of Christi H, 29, Mosaic Down syndrome.

My response:

Trig hasn`t done Jack for Down syndrome awareness; he is an innocent child who is blissfully unaware of the machinations swirling around him.

****************************************

"Why is it that you feel she is exploiting Trig by bringing him with the rest of her family? Had she not brought him you would be all over that too. Saying she is hiding him away, ashamed. There is absolutely no way to please some people; they look for the negative in everything. Why don`t you try being unbiased for once? Too hard to do? What about the Obama`s, they had their children on stage. They sure are cute kids. Did I see you screaming exploitation there? I don`t think so.

News should report the news, not make biased comments and stories. To have simply said she brought her entire family on stage was sufficient. As did Obama. Biased reporting is not reporting but opinion speaking, save that for the table talk. It does not belong in a newspaper article."

Julie R.

My response:

It looks like you missed reading these two paragraphs from my essay:

I`m sick of the spectacle of candidates, both Republican and Democrats, campaigning with their children in tow. Leave the damn kids at home; I`m not going to vote for a candidate because he or she has cute kids who have been trained to smile on cue.

Obama is also guilty of exploiting his children for political gain. His adorable daughters didn`t belong on the stage at the Democratic convention; they should have been watching the festivities from the audience.

Thanks for all of your letters, I will not publish your full name or email if I don`t have your permission.