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Column: Palin's Circumstances Conflict With Conservative Ideals

This story was written by Ellen Meder, The Daily Gamecock

With just more than 50 days of campaigning left for presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama, the campaign trail is no doubt heating up -- and the recent addition of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is no doubt adding interest to the race.

However, while the media is focusing on ways that supposed gender digs such as "lipstick on a pig" can be misconstrued, there are more important things to wonder about, like, say, what Palin would bring to the White House if McCain is elected.

Without a doubt, it was the most ethically sound and mature route for the Obama camp to decide that family, particularly children, are off limits when the news of Palin's teen daughter's pregnancy broke. Obviously the choices made in the Palin family are private and it would be massively underhanded for the Democrats to use family circumstance to their advantage (although it does make quite the picturesque headline that Palin went home to see her son off to Iraq on the Sept. 11 anniversary). This does not, however, preclude the American public from wondering about how candidates' personal experiences correspond with their policy.

One has to wonder about a politician who has personally experienced the reality that teenagers do have sex but still supports abstinence-only sex education. If a strict upbringing did not prevent her daughter from having sex, how would a sex education curriculum that doesn't teach the proper use of contraception (like one Palin supported during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign) help?

A staunch religious view gets in the way of policy that would seemingly help people with familial situations similar to Palin's in other ways. One area in which McCain and Palin differ in opinion is stem cell research. Palin's youngest son has Dow'ns syndrome, a genetic disorder that could benefit greatly from more research.

Meanwhile in Washington, Palin's Republican counterparts have been blocking legislation that would extend health insurance to every child in America. Should Palin not speak up on that point? If anyone knows that health care for children can be expensive, would it not be Palin?

In the party of family values it just seems like sometimes the family and policy that could greatly benefit thousands of families does not come first.

Critics on both sides of the aisle criticize both Obama and Palin for their relative lack of experience in politics. What is more unnerving is the idea that some candidates are not taking the experience that they do have and relaying it into good policy that could benefit the nation.