Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sarah Palin is not a good special needs advocate

I'll start with a quick comment about Meg Stapleton's resignation.

If she wasn't thrown under the bus and we take what she said at face value,

"I have done my best to scale back but Isabella is now resorting to hiding my BlackBerry and she shouldn't grow up begging for a mother to start acting like a mother,"

good for her!

I shudder to think what would happen if one of Sarah Palin's children should resort to the same tactics and hid her precious BlackBerry... they're having a bad enough time as it is!

Moving on to the real topic of this post, we've been validated at last.

Down syndrome real advocates are not very keen on Sarah Palin and her approach to the whole special needs issue.

From the ADN, via Daily Beast:

"Since the end of the presidential election, we haven't heard Sarah Palin articulate any specific policy proposals [on disability]," said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, a lobbying group representing people with intellectual disabilities. ...

Bruce Fletcher, founder and CEO of the New York-based National Association for the Developmentally Disabled, was harsher, saying, "I think having a celebrity as an advocate is a very good idea. But I don't think she's the right person to do that given that there's a cloud over her in terms of her credibility."

MSNBC First Read, also via Daily Beast:

Palin has drawn crowds of parents of children with disabilities to some of her events, but even as she professed to be their greatest advocates during the 2008 campaign questions were being asked as to what she would do when it comes to funding. At the end of the day, that's where a legislator can have the greatest impact.

And Palin was on record in wanting to reject stimulus funds to her state -- millions of which included special education funding.

One person didn't take so long to figure out what Sarah Palin was all about. On September 10, 2008, Amy Silverman, mother of a then 5-year-old child with Down syndrome, had already heard the alarm bells, as when Amy describes hers and her husband's reaction to McCain's pick of running mate:

Neither of us was sure how to pronounce her name, and we didn't know much about her politics, but both my husband and I knew exactly who Sarah Palin was. We paid attention in April, when she had her fifth baby, Trig.

We pay attention to things like that. Our 5-year-old daughter has Down syndrome.

I immediately started shrieking, and didn't stop for a week.


I'm pretty much done shrieking. Now I'm just scared.

And mad that I wasted so much time being pissed at myself for being distracted by Sarah Palin's personal life. Her personal life is not a distraction; it's her selling point, and to that end, it deserves the scrutiny it's gotten, and more. When she put her four kids center stage — literally — and talked about the fifth fighting in Iraq, she made perfectly clear what she brings to this campaign: her experience as a hockey mom.

And how sad that she was willing to put her oldest daughter through the humiliation of having her unplanned pregnancy outed to everyone in the world with access to a television set.

Palin is shamelessly using her personal life to sell her candidacy in a way that's reminiscent of just one other politician I can think of — and that's John McCain. But at least in McCain's case, he's his own pawn, vis-à-vis his POW story. Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig are their mother's pawns.

Andrea Friedman summed it up, recently: "My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes."

(Do read the rest of Amy Silverman's article. You can also visit her delightful blog, Girl In a Party Hat.)

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