Convention Notebook

A guide to politics' Big Show

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Hurricane Gustav was not the only tempest to make landfall in the U.S. over the weekend: The shocking news of Bristol Palin's pregnancy also packed quite a punch.

Much to the chagrin of Republican strategists, the storm was not as successful in distracting media outlets from news of the 17-year-old's pregnancy as they had hoped and word spread faster than you can say 'moose burger.' 

The announcement came on the first day of the Republican National Convention and less than a week after Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain named Alaska Gov. -- and soon-to-be grandmother -- Sarah Palin as his running mate.

The news dominated coverage of the RNC, which had been significantly scaled back as Hurricane Gustav pounded the Gulf Coast.

But as the storm waned yesterday and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama said that the topic was off-limits, tabs and others seized on the story, dredging up tawdry details of the high schooler's relationship with her baby daddy. Regardless of political leanings, everyone had an opinion on the weekend shocker:

  • The disclosure was an unwanted distraction for the McCain campaign, according to news analysis by the NYT.
  • But the announcement could be a boon to the campaign by underscoring Palin's "Just Like Us" quality that makes her likeably unremarkable, according to Politico.
  • Slate's John Dickerson disagreed and wrote that these shocking revelations about Palin's family are an indication that McCain is being reckless.
  • Reckless or not, the WaPo's Ruth Marcus wrote that Bristol Palin's pregnancy should be a red flag to all -- regardless of party -- that sex ed is a good thing and also it can happen to any family.
  • The WSJ editorialized that "all parents empathize" with Palin and she ought to be admired for sticking to her convictions.'
  • Still, Sally Quinn of the WaPo argues that McCain chose Palin only because she is a woman and that her daughter's pregnancy is a real problem for family values voters.

Also under scrutiny is McCain's vetting process. Though he insists that he knew that Palin's teenage daughter was pregnant before he chose her as his running mate, McCain is now being forced to reveal details about the interview process.

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