A Tiny Insect In the Palm of History

Times Online:

McCain camp prays for Palin wedding
The marriage of the vice-presidential candidate’s pregnant teenage daughter could lift a flagging campaign

Yeah, you read that right. Stop gasping and read some more:

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

There is already some urgency to the wedding as Bristol, who is six months pregnant, may not want to walk down the aisle too close to her date of delivery. She turns 18 on October 18, a respectable age for a bride.

Hello, dahhhhhhhhhhhlinks. I’m Ta, your hostess here at flaming, shameless Poor Impulse Control. Can I get you a drink? Have a seat. Let’s have a chat, but not the one I expect you’re – it’s okay to laugh – expecting.

As a matter of fact, I was a pregnant teen. No matter what any debutante tells you about fighting your or someone else’s babyfat, this experience is highly overrated. In fact, if you must procreate, I recommend waiting until you’re staring menopause in the sweating face so when you retire your children are too young to follow you to your adult community. That’s for stealing the car, Junior! Fund your own tattoos!

Being a grandparent is – and I can’t say this enough – made of awesomeness. Mazel tov to Mr. and Mrs. Palin! Their children and grandchildren can play together! It’ll be a blast, so long as Mom and Dad remember who’s who, which will be tougher than they think. We’re getting to that age where finding our car keys becomes a challenge on a par with the Riddle of the Sphinx. But don’t worry. Their children will pretend to “help.” But it’s not our recalcitrant teen’s situation we should discuss. No. I am a woman close to Sarah Palin’s age, I have a daughter and a grandson, and I have extensive experience with being the poster child for Maybe We Should Sober Up First, but beyond that scintillating resume, I also used to be a writer of some skill. Let’s talk about me.

I was a big believer in letting characters write themselves. If you let them tell you about themselves you can’t end up with Mr. Darcy playing with Tonka Trucks or anything by Jeff Foxworthy, but you’re a sucky writer if you force characters to do stuff that’d be outside the range of their personality. It’s a complex business because people are so complex. Learn from events. What do they mean? If you close your eyes, and listen, and let yourself feel your way around the psyche of your imaginary friend, you will be okay. This technique also teaches you – meaning me – when people are doing something outside of their ordinary behaviors. In other words, when Samantha stutters, Darren – either Darren – knows Endora’s camped up in the nursery, because Sam doesn’t stutter. Instinctively, you know the basics. You don’t trust people who smile all the time and speak slowly, and when calm people start blinking they’re rethinking a situation under stress. In other words: they’re lying. So let’s draw a character for a moment, remembering that there are no easy answers, and let’s call her Sarah Palin.

You’re a saucy damsel raised in the kind of End Of Days church athiests cross themselves and avoid, you’ve been married to the same snowmobiling dude for about twenty years and you have a pack of children you may or may not pay much attention to over a long period of time. You seem to believe in the fire and brimstone stuff, but you’re an elected official and not home baking cookies. You believe you’re on a mission from God, which means you’re allowed to eliminate your enemies. They deserve it. One day, you’re a free-wheeling state governor, when your political party’s presidential candidate calls and asks what you’re doing next week, and for the next four years. So far, I understand you as a character. As a poet or novelist, I could help you walk, talk and sign distasteful bills into law. But then something happens. Your oldest daughter, who had better knock it off, comes up pregnant and everyone, everywhere, says something stupid. Weeks pass, and the presidential campaign may be in trouble.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Poor Impulse Control reader: you’re a creative, empathic person. You know that most teen marriages fail spectacularly within five years, usually with lifelong repercussions. You know this is a disaster in the making. Our character did not have to agree to join the candidate on the trail, or when the rabbit died, could have retired to the governor’s mansion. In a quiet moment, ask yourself this question for which there are no easy answers: what kind of mother, what parent, what human being, what psyche places her daughter’s shotgun wedding in a presidential election season and invites the international press?

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