Her mom may still be fair game, but the time for making Bristol Palin a joke is over. America's most famous unwed teen mom emerged this week in an interview with Fox News' Greta van Susteren as an independent, opinionated young woman who should be seen in her own light.
I wasn't a fan of how Sarah Palinthrust her family -- including baby daddy & professed "f****in redneck" Levi Johnston -- into the white-hot spotlight of a national convention and presidential campaign. While a revival of "The Scarlett Letter" wasn't appropriate, the image of the "family values" party seemingly celebrating a young unmarried couple's foolish mistake struck me as one bridge (to nowhere) too far.
But, Bristol has shown that -- as well as any 18-year-old might -- she actually has a sense of perspective that is problematic for conservatives and liberals alike.
Social conservatives may not like Bristol's saying that expecting teens to remain celibate is "unrealistic." On the other hand, liberals can't be pleased that she sounds fiercely independent enough that you believe her when she says that it was her decision to keep the baby. Libs might also not like the fact that nowhere does Bristol talk about birth control.
Those without an ideological dog in the fight might like the fact that her wistful observations on the preferred way she would have liked to become a mom are simply honest -- and a "teachable" lesson to other 16-, 17- or 18- year-old girls:
"I wished it could have happened in like, 10 years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff. But [two-month old son Tripp] brings so much joy, I don't regret it at all. I just wish it would have happened in 10 years, rather than right now."
Now that's reality TV.
Good for Bristol.
Now let the young woman live her life in peace.
Robert A. George is a New York writer and stand-up comic. He blogs at Ragged Thots.