Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sarah Palin and Special Needs - Should We Expect Some Changes? - UPDATED

Sarah Palin prepares for a walk in aid of autistic children

Politico reports:

Sarah Palin is heading to Alabama early next month to raise money for a group dedicated to helping those with physical or mental challenges.

"Governor Palin's youngest son Trig was born with Down syndrome and she has kindly agreed to help us launch fundraising for our organization," the group said on its website. "The event also will help focus attention on special needs people in this part of Alabama."

Palin rarely express (sic) interest in leaving Alaska for political events but has frequently made long trips from her Wasilla home to help groups for special needs children.

Another site reports the price of tickets for the event and quotes the president of the foundation:

Individual tickets for the event at the Marriott Grand Hotel in Point Clear will be $600. Sponsors tables seating 10 people will also be available for $15,000 and $10,000, organizers said. Photo opportunities with Palin will be available for purchasers of sponsors tables.

"We’re really excited that Governor Palin has accepted our invitation to visit Baldwin County," Foundation President Bob Callahan Sr. said. "She is especially well qualified to speak at this event. As a mother herself of a child with Down syndrome, she can readily relate to the foundation’s mission and goals, as well as the exceptional participants and their families. She has stated repeatedly that the special needs individuals are near and dear to her heart."

The first article states:

Palin rarely express (sic) interest in leaving Alaska for political events but has frequently made long trips from her Wasilla home to help groups for special needs children.

The guy who wrote this must exist in a parallel universe. Sarah Palin mentions her child with special needs in very well paid speeches to pro-life crowds, stressing that she chose to have a child with challenges, but these challenges are incidental to the plot, as she never addressed how the family deals with them.

The mission and goals of The Exceptional Foundation are quite specific. Their approach is practical and they don't focus on whether people with special needs should be born or not.

Will we hear something about how the Palins deal with Trigs needs? Will The Exceptional Foundation crowd be content to hear that Trig is a perfect gift from God, that he brought so much joy into the family, without any insights into his day-to-day programs?

[Note to Sarah Palin's ghostwriters: You have plenty of time to come up with something substantial until May 3. We're looking forward to it.]

This blog follows Sarah Palin very closely and we have not heard anything apart from a few platitudes in any of her "frequent" trips to help groups for special needs children. She doesn't come across as well qualified to speak about the practical aspects of raising Trig.

The Exceptional Foundation may be using Sarah Palin to raise funds, but they shouldn't expect to hear anything that comes from her actual experience in raising a child with Down syndrome. She's more likely to talk about God, as she did during the 2008 campaign, which she quotes on Going Rogue:

"You know that there are the world's standards of perfection, and there are God's, and these are the final measure," I said. "Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake. And the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable."

We know what Sarah Palin has done for the special needs community: She recorded a cute video about the Special Olympics, went on a short walk for autism, complained about Rahm Emanuel's use of the word "retarded" (but gave Rush Limbaugh a pass), had Bristol complain about Family Guy, made a few (well paid) speeches, displayed Trig on a book tour, donated $1,000 of other people's money to the National Association for Down Syndrome through Sarah Pac and became lacrimose when she met cousin Matthew while filming Sarah Palin's Alaska. [I may have overlooked some of her good deeds, feel free to add any other examples of her indefatigable efforts to improve conditions for the most vulnerable.]

Sarah Palin working the crowds during Going Rogue book tour
(Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Sarah Palin with autistic child

We have no way of finding out if Sarah Palin has made any incredibly generous donations to any special needs organizations as a private person, but looking at her overall attitude to special needs as a celebrity and the fact that she charges a hefty fee for her appearances, it doesn't seem very likely...


It has come to my attention that the foundation that invited Sarah Palin to speak at their fundraiser is separate from the one which appears above. They have a very limited website. Their mission statement is almost identical to the one in Birmingham county and they use the same logo plus a number of photographs from the longer established one.

Nothing is simple when it involves Sarah Palin!

(H/T to Ferry Fey)