By Kathleen Parker
WASHINGTON – Distilled to a slogan, politics of late goes something like this: “I’m more fertile than you are.”
It seems fecundity is emerging as the best argument for public office, policy or even citizenship. What was once an unconscious appraisal – Is this person strong, healthy and vital? – has morphed into the sort of explicit review one usually associates with an X rating.
While male politicians have always strutted their stuff as a demonstration of virility and strength, most women until recently have had no such comparable public measures.
Lately, a strange shift has occurred among female politicians as they have resorted to flexing their womb-manhood. This brings us unavoidably to Sarah Palin, who reminded us recently that fertility is the ultimate trump card.
To be fair, Jeb Bush started it. He was attempting to explain the need for immigration reform as an economic argument. That is, we need an influx of immigrants – WHO TEND TO HAVE LARGER FAMILIES – to counter native-born Americans’ low birthrates. Our current rate isn’t sufficient to keep our nation’s economic engine running competitively.
One is permitted a certain number of verbal pratfalls in public life, a bit of latitude Palin should appreciate. But Mama Grizzly came roaring out at Bush during a speech at one of those confabs where faith-and-freedom lovers assemble to flex their moral superiority. She not only scolded the third Bush for speaking in such terms but reminded the audience of her own bona fides in the matter.
“I say this as someone who’s kind of fertile herself.”
Palin is nothing if not fertile. Or perhaps more accurately, she is nothing if she isn’t fertile.
In this era of low art, one finds comfort at least in the knowledge that fertility passes, and so, one hopes, do those who insist on attention to their procreative histories. Which, I hasten to add, recently includes former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
When challenged about the difference between late-term abortion and the killing of babies who survived late-term abortions at the hands of the convicted murderer Dr. Kermit Gosnell, Pelosi hid behind the skirt of her own bassinet.
Rather than answer the question, she invoked her five children and declared any discussion of abortion “sacred ground” to her Catholic sensibilities.
Fecundity, apparently, triumphs over moral reasoning.
Most likely, Pelosi is deeply troubled by what her politics requires and what her Catholic mother-heart tells her is true.
And though Palin’s pro-life position is more palatable in the harsh light of Gosnell’s killing chamber, her coquettish reminders that her field is still tillable diminishes her credibility as anything other than a one-liner comedienne.
Perhaps Palin recognizes this herself and is auditioning for her own show. She may have a fertile future as an entertainer, though Honey Boo Boo will give her a run for her money.
Syndicated columnist KATHLEEN PARKER’S email address firstname.lastname@example.org.