Thursday, October 2, 2008

Parenthood and the Political Candidate: Follow-Up

Plenty of people are talking about the Vice Presidential debate. I'll limit myself to one comment. A month ago I wrote about the differences between male and female political candidates when it comes to talking about being parents. That post was mostly about major political speeches, but applied generally to campaign statements. I noted that women often seem more willing to talk about their families and their roles as parents than men.

The number one thing that got my attention in the debate was that when Sarah Palin brought out the Mom card, Biden was right behind her with the Dad card. Here's the partial transcript:
Palin: Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills? About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn't have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We've been there also so that connection was important.

Biden: Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it.

But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

The candidates this time addressed the issue on about even footing, which is a nice change from both sides. Palin didn't overplay it and Biden didn't let the opportunity to discuss fatherhood pass him by.


Amelia said...

That was definitely one of the moments for me during the debate.

Habladora said...

Biden did well - he was sincere about the love he feels for his children and it was a really powerful moment when he got choked-up.

frau sally benz said...

I, too, loved this moment.

I've found that Biden does bring up his family a lot more than most other male politicians. Obama does too, though not as much as Biden.

I think it has more to do with how much time the man actually spends with his children. Obama was new to the scene and his children are young, so I'm sure he actually did spend a lot of time with them. Biden, of course, was a single dad for a long time, so he has that experience as well. Somehow, I can't see McCain as ever having spent very much time with ANY of his children, so if he brought it up, it would be quite disingenuous, don't you think?

Allyson said...

I thought it was just amazing that Biden invoked fatherhood. Not that I was necessarily surprised - you just rarely see really honest, emotional discussions of parenthood coming from a male politician. I thought it was debate gold. But that wasn't the only reason I loved it. Frankly, with all the "Sarah Palin is a MOM omg!!!11!!," it was refreshing for him to point out that he has been an active and involved parent as well. It wasn't really about "winning" the debate so much as being thrilled that male politicians are starting to own up to their roles as fathers.

(also, anybody else having trouble with Open ID recognizing their Wordpress URL? This is driving me nuts!)