Who is Bristol Palin’s Baby Daddy?

There are those who argue that the question of who is responsible for Bristol Palin’s current condition is nobody’s business but hers and her paramour’s. I disagree. But first, I want to make it clear that I am not engaged in slut shaming. Ms. Palin is a grown woman who can have sex whenever and wherever she wants. She does not have to use birth control if she is in a position to raise children without taxpayer help. Nor am I very interested in the hypocrisy of her earning a living advocating abstinence that she clearly doesn’t practice herself. If hypocrisy disqualified society’s scolds, we’d have to close most churches, and the self-help industry would go bankrupt.

However, Ms. Palin, her mother, and both of her former fiancés are public figures who use their platforms to advocate for and against issues that concern me and the rest of the public. They are not allowed to stand up and hurl epitaphs like “haters,” “Rhinos,” and “lamestream media” and then make privacy claims. Sorry, once you enter the public square, most of your life is fair game. The real issue for me is honor. Somebody in this whole tawdry mess is being dishonorable. And a lack of honor among public figures who are trying to lead our nation is a serious problem that demands closer scrutiny.

I don’t want to be a Colonel Jessup, but at the same time Falstaff can’t be correct about the word “honor” either. Just because “honor” can’t mend a bone or bind a wound doesn’t make it unimportant. The founders of this nation pledged “their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” in the Declaration of Independence. So, clearly honor, or the lack of it, has a place in our national conversations. Therefore, I am willing to expose myself to false charges of base curiosity to pursue an idea that I think deserves our attention. After all, we have television shows built around dysfunctional families and unwed mothers. If it is gossip I am really interested in, there is a world full of such titillating business that I could explore.

I also respectfully disagree with Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer that the media should cover more important things like the terrorist attacks in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It is not a zero sum game. The media can cover both terrorism and the fallout for those who fought on the front lines. Sgt. Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan. We, as a nation, trained him, put him in combat, and are responsible for treating both his physical and psychological wounds. Like other Medal of Honor recipients (I refuse to say winners), Sgt. Meyer deflects praise away from himself and towards others he thinks are more deserving. But like it or not, Sgt. Meyer is a figurehead for other veterans. How he is treated and how we let others treat him is a reflection on us as a nation. One good thing that has come out of the endless Middle East fighting is a separation in the public’s mind between the politics of war and the warriors themselves. We Vietnam veterans did not benefit from that distinction.

Exhibit A is how Karl Rove and his political apparatus smeared and slandered Vietnam war heroes like John McCain, John Kerry, and Max Cleland. The media reported the stories, but as a nation, we sat on our hands and did nothing. Worse, instead of hurling derision, we gave Rove and company, many of them draft dodgers, the political power to enter into the wartime footing we are still on. I think we owe more to Sgt. Meyer and others than ignoring the difficulties their service has created for themselves. At the heart of this matter is why he and Bristol Palin called off their wedding a week prior to the ceremony. Is he the father of her latest baby or not? If he is, and abandoned her on the altar, or more cruelly, refuses to acknowledge paternity, then he is a scoundrel who is unworthy of representing the Marine Corps and other veterans.

If, on the other hand, Bristol was unfaithful, then she dishonored Sgt. Meyer and deserves national scorn. I am sure that somewhere in Las Vegas, someone is making book on the father of Bristol’s baby. If so, my money is on someone not named Dakota Meyer. The reason is simple. He has already shown he is a man of honor . . . literally. And when given the chance by media, he didn’t throw Bristol under the bus. He didn’t blame her or allude to wrongdoing on her part. He acted honorably. But, more tellingly, he also didn’t own up to being the father. What he didn’t say speaks more to me than hundreds of tweets, posts, and hints from the Palin camp.

Sarah and Bristol Palin have been visible, vocal, and very public in the culture wars. They have opined on everything from family values to death panels. Granted, these wars are a political invention of the Republican Party. But they have traction and impact on elections and leadership. In an era when words “mean whatever I want them to mean,” people need to take offense and demand adherence to a common definition of words like “honor,” “freedom,” and “patriot” if our national conversations are to have real impact.

The most powerful force in a democracy is public opinion. And the biggest threat to America is not Islamic terrorists or gay marriage. It is allowing ourselves to be manipulated by those who are more interested in power and personal gain. Who represents the best of America? Sgt. Dakota Meyer or Bristol Palin? Who is honorable and who is a self-serving reality show dance-monkey? How we answer these questions, and whether we choose to answer them, will have an impact far beyond the legal status of a single baby. No matter what we choose, I think Karl Rove should gain company in the hall of people who should be ashamed of themselves, but aren’t. Only the collective you will decide.

Photo By: Wikimedia Commons