Palin's daughter and herunbornchild's father are entitled to privacy as children -- and that's what they are -- and as individuals. They ought not to be pursued by reporters, nor should their friends and teachers be grilled for details about their private lives. Nobody asked them whether they wanted to be made symbolic caricatures in a national debate over the fulfillment of two strangers' political ambitions, and they shouldn't be treated as if they had.
That said, the fact of Bristol Palin's situation and the way in which she and her family have chosen to deal with it are legitimate issues, because they involve public policy issues on which Sarah Palin, candidate for vice president, has taken political positions. Palin, for example, opposes sex education in schools, including all access to contraceptive information for adolescents. Similarly, she believes that abortion should be illegal.
But Palin and her family dealt with two personal situations in just the way all Americans are entitled to meet them. When Sarah Palin and her husband discovered that their unborn son would be born with Down syndrome, they were free to make the decision that she would carry their boy to term. When they found that their 17-year-old daughter was pregnant by her high school boyfriend, they were free to reach a decision that the daughter, too, would keep her child and that she and the boy would marry. (They were free to do that even though many, perhaps most, Americans no longer regard teenage marriages as particularly desirable. Most people long ago put away the notion of a boy "making an honest woman" of the girl.)
The point is that the Palins were able to make all these decisions according to the dictates of their own consciences, formed by their own religious convictions, within the privacy of their own family and according to its values and traditions. What they decided is nobody's business but theirs; the fact that they were free to arrive at their own decision is everybody's business.
The particular brand of social conservatism in which Sarah Palin quite evidently believes deeply would deny other American families and other American women the freedom to make these same intimate decisions according to the dictates of their own consciences, religious convictions and traditions.
Personally, I do like Sarah Palin. She is relatively young, and feisty. She's a mould-breaker.
However, in addition to her stance on reproductive rights, she's a global warming denier. Time Magazine reported that she had a librarian fired who refused to cooperate in banning books.
If I were a young, moderate Republican, I'd definitely see Palin's nomination as a sign of hope, in some ways, for the party. I can't say that I would then vote for her, because I am not a moderate Republican. I can say that I would not even consider voting for her.