It's generally important to consider a politician's family, especially his or her kids, off limits to political scrutiny. It's simply unfair to go after private citizens, outside the arena, simply because of their familial connections.
But when a politician chooses to put a spotlight on their family members, on purpose, and uses them to advance an agenda, standards and expectations of privacy change.
On Monday, for example, one of Sarah Palin's sons, 26-year-old Track Palin, was arrested, charged with domestic violence, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and assault on his girlfriend. A day later, Palin endorsed Donald Trump, and yesterday she hit the campaign trail -- where she suggested President Obama bore some responsibility
for Track Palin's issues.
Sarah Palin suggested Wednesday that her son's arrest on domestic violence charges this week stemmed from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and -- in part -- the president's lack of "respect" for veterans. Addressing what she called "the elephant in the room" during a rally in support of Donald Trump, Palin said her son Track came back "different" from his year-long deployment in Iraq.
Referencing her son's problem, Palin specifically said, "[I]t makes me realize more than ever, it is now or never for the sake of America's finest that we'll have that commander-in-chief who will respect them and honor them." She added that veterans like her son "come back wondering if there is that respect ... and that starts right at the top."
Last night, Donald Trump took credit
for the rhetoric, saying he "suggested" to Palin that she talk about the issue.
Don't blame President Obama for the PTSD that Sarah Palin claims her oldest son is battling. That was the message Wednesday from the head of a New York City-based veteran's organization that has fought for years to get Iraq and Afghanistan war vets help with their post traumatic stress disorder. "It's not President Obama's fault that Sarah Palin's son has PTSD," said Paul Rieckhoff, who heads Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "PTSD is a very serious problem, a complicated mental health injury and I would be extremely reluctant to blame any one person in particular.... I hope this doesn't become a portable chew toy in a political campaign," he said.
It's quite simple: bringing attention to PTSD is worthwhile; using PTSD as some sort of partisan cudgel to take cheap shots at the president is not.
For that matter, the idea that the Obama administration has somehow been lax in helping veterans returning with PTSD is plainly wrong. There's ample evidence pointing in the opposite direction, with the White House expanding treatment options
several times over the course of several years.
In other words, this line of attack isn't just ugly; it's also untrue.
I'm well aware of the fact that in some far-right circles, it's important to blame President Obama for everything, without regard for propriety or common sense. But for Sarah Palin to exploit her own son's troubles in the hopes of making the president look bad is just shameful, even for Sarah Palin.