The Washington Times - May 6, 2009, 12:18PM


Bristol Palin has not only established a keen ability to master the national media better than her mom, but is making an impressive showing as a strong and articulate voice for the abstinence movement. The governor should be proud.

“Abstinence is the safest and best choice for teens.”

That’s what the young Palin told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” as part of a the campaign to promote Teen Pregnancy Awareness Day today. She says if she could do it all over again she would have waited to have sex. And while she loves her life, she would have preferred to wait later in life to have her now 4-month-old son Tripp. It wasn’t young Palin’s answer or the candor with which she spoke that impressed me as much as how she handled the questions from GMA host Chris Cuomo. Unruffled, Bristol remained cool, collected, succinct and pithy. While her answers were likely rehearsed they didn’t come across that way. Maintaining her confidence and message throughout the interview, she even refused to take the bait and beat up on her deadbeat “baby daddy.” (I can’t say the same for his pathetic media tour.) Not to mention, what she’s doing as a conservative, teenaged unwed mother who is the daughter of a popular Republican governor, takes guts.

The reaction and media double-standard as the press pounced on Bristol at the announcement of her pregnancy during the presidential campaign, at first infuriated me. In my view, candidate kids are off limits. But then the McCain camp threw a monkey wrench and changed the game when it dragged an 8-months pregnant, 17-year-old Bristol with her boyfriend in tow to photo-ops at the GOP convention. Bad (bone-headed) idea. I knew right away that it was a stunt. And at that point she was fair game. With the floodgates now pouring open over all the baby mama drama with the baby’s daddy, most of the coverage of late has been negative. That was until today.

To the conservative movement’s credit, Bristol (almost ironically) is the anti-Meghan (as in McCain). Not to pit the two young Republican gals against one another (the MSM does enough of that), there is room under the big tent for both. But for every pundit who criticizes the party’s failure to reach young people and cackles at the thought of tweens, teens and 20-somethings actually caring about values and principles, Palin proves them wrong. I speak with young people all the time who do actually put a premium on faith, traditional values and abstaining from sex. Hormones aside, they can and have done it and are insulted when adults (probably more hormone crazed than the teens) think that they can’t think of anything else. Whether liberals, the media or “sexperts” want to give in to the foregone conclusion that all young people are going to “do it” anyway is beside the point. 

Palin proves that attempts to mock abstinence proponents out of existence won’t work. And she should keep doing what she is doing. (The same can be said for Carrie Prejean.) Bristol may not have the popularity of the Hollywood set on her side like Meghan but that’s not the point (actually, maybe it is.)

“I don’t see myself as a celebrity; I don’t want to be one.”

That’s what Bristol told ABC. And her over-arching message is particularly poignant now. Because despite the left’s pro-abortion, birth-control pill pushing efforts, new teen pregnancy and illegitimacy rates paint an alarming and dismal picture for our country. One that should not be lost on what experts agree result in the BEST outcomes for children: a two-parent home with a mom and dad. Single parenthood has been the single biggest contributor to increased alcohol and drug abuse, crime, poverty, and dropout rates among the nation’s youth. It’s another consequence that goes hand in hand when talking about abstinence and teen sex.

Many (particularly liberals) have been quick to call Bristol a hypocrite in light of her family’s pro-life, pro-abstinence stance. The young mother could have chosen to shrink from the crush of criticism and hide away under her family’s protective shell, yet she’s refusing to let her critics silence her stance. Confronting them head on, she’s speaking out about lessons learned from engaging in premarital sex and recommitting to a cause worth promoting. Calling her “the new face of abstinence,” GMA revealed that Bristol’s biggest hurdle was telling her parents when she found out that she was pregnant. She described it as:

“Harder than labor.”

As much as Hollywood has glamorized single motherhood and contributed to such false ideals of “free love,” it has done so at the cost of ignoring a message of consequences. A message many teens don’t see through the beaming lens of lights and lipstick. Bristol’s voice is a necessary one. She puts a “real” face on the issue for “regular” teens. Teens, who don’t have to make the same mistakes she did and even if they have, can recognize that it’s not too late for a course correction. 

-Tara Wall is an editor at The Washington Times and editor of