Joe Conason on Bristol and Levi

Conason makes a good point about the two teenage expectant parents. It’s one thing to be supportive and loving, it’s quite another to bring them up on stage together in celebration of their impending shotgun nuptials.

What is the message conveyed to teenagers here? From the piece:

With all due respect to this young woman, her future husband and the rest of the family — and best wishes to all of them for a successful birth — let us first stop pretending that this is good news. There are excellent reasons why we discourage teenage pregnancy and motherhood, and none of them have disappeared simply because the Republicans are about to put Sarah Palin on their ticket.

Adolescents are rarely prepared to take on the challenges of raising a child. Often they drop out of school as a result, and usually become dependent on their own parents for support (which may be complicated for a family whose mom is running for vice president). Pregnancies in adolescence are high-risk, and the babies born to teenage mothers tend to have more illnesses during their first year of life. Teenage marriages — whether or not they occur because of an unplanned pregnancy — have a tendency to work out poorly, too. (“I don’t want to have kids,” noted Bristol Palin’s prospective husband Levi Johnston, 18, on his MySpace page, according to the New York Post, and at his age, why would he?)

Is this the party of family values?

It isn’t hard to imagine a teenage girl fantasizing a scenario just like Bristol Palin’s: the loving boyfriend who will marry them and hold their hand in front of everyone. The problem is that only one girl’s mom is running for Vice President. The rest of them are living just like us. In the real world.

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