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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin's kids are NOT named after TV witches (sheesh)

If there were any shred of doubt left as to whether Andrew Sullivan is a ridiculous tool — and guest poster Alex my friend Patterico at Patterico's Pontifications has cataloged several other examples — it's erased by his uncritical, enthusiastic republication of a reader email asserting that Sarah Palin's daughters Willow and Piper are named after TV witches in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed. Sullivan describes his reader as "plumbing the weirdness," presumably of Gov. Palin, and includes this quote: "The governor obviously has a penchant for television shows of paranormal female empowerment."

Stuart Buck and Jonah Goldberg both link and reprint this nonsense, although Stuart was properly skeptical (noting have both tried to dispel this nonsense. Stuart noted that the birth and TV series dates don't work out, and Jonah suggested that Sullivan just go ahead and become a dKos diarist, when he (Jonah) followed up with printing a reader email linking this People Magazine interview Q&A:

Where do your children's names come from?

TODD: Sarah's parents were coaches and the whole family was involved in track and I was an athlete in high school, so with our first-born, I was, like, 'Track!' Bristol is named after Bristol Bay. That's where I grew up, that's where we commercial fish. Willow is a community there in Alaska. And then Piper, you know, there's just not too many Pipers out there and it's a cool name. And Trig is a Norse name for "strength."

That's pretty close, but it's at slight variance with what's in Kaylene Johnson's excellent biography of Gov. Palin, Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down (which I reviewed at length here). She reports (at pages 39-40):

Meanwhile [in 1989], the couple had started a family. The Palins named their first child, a boy, Track, after the track and field season in which he was born. Sarah’s father jokingly asked what they would have named their son if he had been born during the basketball season. Without hesitation Sarah answered "Hoop."

Between babies, Sarah worked short stints at TV stations and at a utility company. The Palins first daughter was born in 1990. They named her Bristol after the ocean where they fished. Willow was born in 1994, named after willow ptarmigan, Alaska’s state bird. Their youngest daughter, Piper Indy, came in 2001. She was named after the Piper Cub that Todd flies and the Polaris Indy snowmobile Todd drove in the first of his four victories in the Iron Dog snowmobile race, a grueling 2000-mile run from Wasilla to Fairbanks by way of Nome.

As for the slight inconsistency on Willow's name, I frankly trust fellow hockey-mom and neighbor Johnson over First Dude Todd's explanation, and as a fellow father I can excuse him if he temporarily forgot about Alaska's state bird, the Lagopus lagopus alascensis Swarth a/k/a Alaska Willow Ptarmigan. (Whether his daughter will be similarly forgiving remains to be seen.)


UPDATE (Sat Aug 30 @ 7:20pm): Linking Stuart Buck's post, Glenn Reynolds notes that "maybe it's a bogus rumor, but Buffy fans will dig it." I'm a Buffy fan too, in moderation, but all of the humor here is in how clueless and paranoid and weird Sully is. As for Gov. Palin, I believe she has a good sense of humor, a mischievous one, and my strong hunch is that the "Van" just before the surname in infant son Trig's name is a deliberate pun on "Van Halen," which I suspect goes back to a long-running Palen family joke.

And seriously, whether it's "She worships witches!" or "She craves female empowerment," all that sort of nonsense, when someone tries to use it as a weapon against Sarah Palin, is going to only embarrass those who are capable of feeling shame (which I don't think includes Sullivan anymore). One reason I'm so psyched about her nomination is that I don't see her as some sort of fragile construct who'll fold up and blow away. Sarah Barracuda has elbows. And she is so genuinely all-American that attempts to make her seem weird, or radical, are just not going to get any traction whatsoever.

Posted by Beldar at 06:30 PM in 2008 Election, McCain, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Palin's kids are NOT named after TV witches (sheesh) and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) arb made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 6:45:37 PM | Permalink

What next? Someone suggesting that Senator Obama is named for the building housing prisoners on "Hogan's Heroes"?

(2) Dale MacInnis made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 8:19:33 PM | Permalink

Yes. "Sarah Barracuda has elbows" - and brains - and more useful experience than Obama and Biden put together. But, the "story" is that the Grumpy Old Man only met her once - and talked with her only once.

I know. I know. She's vetted out the wazoo. And that's not what concerns me. It's just that if the story is true, it strikes me as... I don't know... just kind of strange on his part that he's had so little communication with her... and that he might be thinking of her more as "wall paper" rather than as someone truly useful, like Point Person on Energy.

In short, is he going to put her to the task(s) for which she is uniquely qualified? Someone ease my mind, here.

(3) Jim Treacher made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 8:31:49 PM | Permalink

Willow Palin was born in 1995. Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in 1997. Whoops!

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 8:54:01 PM | Permalink

Mr. MacInnis, your points are well taken and they deserve serious thought.

Certainly McCain has spent more time with, say, Mitt Romney, during the primary debates and the warm-ups and follow-ups thereto. Certainly he's spent more time with Lindsey Graham or Fred Thompson, who he's known from the Senate and been friends with. He probably has spent more time with Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Senate, too, but they reportedly didn't get along terribly well together, which doesn't surprise me. He probably hadn't spent any more time with Tim Pawlenty, though, or Rob Portman.

I don't think John McCain is overly impulsive, and indeed, so far his campaign has been remarkably methodical and disciplined. But neither do I think John McCain is some sort of 21st Century Hamlet, pacing and muttering and equivocating. I think he's decisive. And I think we want a president who can make a decision when it's time to do so. Yesterday was obviously the day to pull the trigger (or, using a fighter-bomber metaphor, thumb the pickle).

Spending more "face time" with Gov. Palin would have compromised secrecy. He obviously felt that he had enough, however, when combined with the vetting done by his staff and the opinions of others whom he presumably trusts.

I can't put your mind wholly at ease. But I personally don't see cause for alarm.

(5) JoeCitizen made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 8:56:54 PM | Permalink


Wow. This is precious.
Now you guys know what it feels like to be on the recieving end of the kind of attacks that usually come from the hard right!

Oh, and Dale,,,
She was not really vetted out the wazoo, and yes, she is wallpaper. Has there ever been a VP choice that is so obviously chosen on the grounds of hoped-for electoral advantage rather than governing?

Seriously guys, what if McCain wins, and, god forbid, has a heart attack during the inaugural parade. Do you REALLY envision this woman, wonderful as she may be, as the leader of the free world?

Sorry, this is a disqualifying choice.

(6) Jim Treacher made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 9:27:12 PM | Permalink

More than I can envision the leader of the free world if McCain, god forbid, has a heart attack tomorrow.

(7) slarrow made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 11:44:12 PM | Permalink

Actually, I can envision her as the leader of the free world should it come to that. I don't expect a moose hunter with a son in Iraq to go all weepy if Putin glares at her. I also don't expect her to have to do that Day One, and it's only the absurd scenarios that make this very risky. Obama The Blank Check is far riskier to me.

As for governing, I think McCain does have some real advantages with her as the VP. First is conservative liasion; she insulates him from the time he spends with Lieberman and Graham. She can also be his energy expert, his anti-pork whip, and the soft power diplomatically. (Send her to Germany, France, and England a lot.) That leaves him free to reach across the aisle as he likes and wield the hard power abroad as needed. So choosing her gives the Maverick freer rein.

Any more hard questions?

(8) Dale MacInnis made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 12:01:04 AM | Permalink

Thanks for the perspective, Beldar. It does ease my mind a bit. Obviously, time will reveal what McCain does with her talents - and, how well she does with her talents - and his trust.

Taking this topic of "what to do with Sarah" just a little further, is there not a bit of a "magic moment" here, not only for the immediate campaign and (hopefully) McCain administration, but for the future of republican conservatism for the next sixteen plus years?

Could McCain not proclaim, "right here, right now on day one," that she is where the party is going and that he's going to give her a deep and worthy portflio - and then do his darndest to challange, mentor, groom, ride her hide, keep her feet to the flames, whatever, to make sure she performs it and performs it well - thereby at a single stroke, answer (asap) her "experience" critics, prepare for the worst - a McCain heart attack on day 647, and launch a decades long republican Surge? (Now, wouldn't that be a gift from the Grumpy Old Man.) But, the moment is now when this whole thing is fresh. (My view)

(9) Daryl Herbert made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 12:31:48 AM | Permalink

"The governor obviously has a penchant for television shows of paranormal female empowerment."

Mr. Sullivan is obviously deathly afraid of female empowerment in ALL of its forms.

(10) Stuart Buck made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 11:48:25 AM | Permalink

Great post. I'm a bit thrown off by the phrasing here in the following sentence, namely, the word "although": "Stuart Buck and Jonah Goldberg both link and reprint this nonsense, although Stuart was properly skeptical (noting that the birth and TV series dates don't work out)."

Yes, indeed, I was skeptical -- my whole post is intended as sarcasm towards Alan Wolfe and Andrew Sullivan.

(11) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 12:16:51 PM | Permalink

Stuart: Point well taken! I could and should have worded that better, making it more clear to my readers (as it was to me, from your post) that you weren't repeating this nonsense for any purpose other than knocking it down. I'm going to slightly edit the offending sentence.

(12) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 12:39:31 PM | Permalink

Mr. MacInnis, I have more to put your mind at ease today!

Read this WaPo article, which reveals that Palin was on McCain's short list since he first met her at a governors' conference in February:

Far from being a last-minute tactical move or a second choice when better known alternatives were eliminated, Palin was very much in McCain's thinking from the beginning of the selection process, according to McCain's advisers. The 44-year-old governor made every cut as the first list of candidates assembled last spring was slowly winnowed. The more McCain learned about her, the more attracted he was to her as someone who shared his maverick, anti-establishment instincts.

(13) Dale MacInnis made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 2:02:28 PM | Permalink


Great article in the WaPo! It is more than a little scary knowing how close we came to Lieberman, however. But, I shall now go back to weeding my cabbages in peace! Thanks.

(14) Milhouse made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 9:17:26 PM | Permalink

Oh well. I wish the witches explanation had been true, though. Willow rocks. And I'd feel very comfortable if I knew that the leader of the free world was the sort of person who admires Willow's strength of character, and would wish her own daughter to have the same strength.

As for the timing, I don't see the problem: if Dorothy Rodham could name her daughter after an obscure Kiwi would become famous for climbing a mountain five years later, why can't this work too? Maybe it is true, but Gov Palin wants to keep her prophetic abilities secret.

(15) Milhouse made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 9:19:49 PM | Permalink

"JoeCitizen" wrote: "Now you guys know what it feels like to be on the recieving end of the kind of attacks that usually come from the hard right!"

Care to give us an example or three? Not that I call this much of an attack — when I first saw it, my first thought was "cool!" — but in my experience nasty attacks and vicious politics seem to be the province of the left, so I'd appreciate seeing some counter-examples, if you actually have any.

(16) Norman Conquest made the following comment | Sep 1, 2008 2:46:42 PM | Permalink

Self-evidently false. Anyone smart and cool enough to admire Buffy's adorable and nerdy sidekick Willow (Alyson Hannigan) wouldn't waste two seconds on the fountain of crap which is "Charmed."

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