Sarah Palin: Bad Mother and Wife?

If former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin thought John McCain’s staffers stabbed her in the back when they tried to blame her for his loss last November, one can only imagine what she thinks these days about Levi Johnston, the father of her grandchild.

Johnston, who is weighing the many “celebrity” career options now coming his way thanks to the meteoric rise of his former mother-out-of-law, is in sharper-than-a serpent’s-tooth mode in the October issue of Vanity Fair, where he — how to put this delicately? — rips Palin a new one for what he perceives as her personal failings. The magazine said it paid him an author fee, since the story is in his own words.

Sarah Palin and Levi Johnston: Me and Mrs. Palin

Sarah Palin and Levi Johnston: Me and Mrs. Palin

In “Me and Mrs. Palin,” Johnston’s first-person account accuses Palin of being a bad mother, of being a bad wife, of not knowing how to shoot a gun, and even — get this! — of not even being a real hockey mom! (She only attended 15% of her son’s games, says Johnston, who was his teammate.)

In short, he accuses Palin of being an all-around phony. Paging Holden Caulfield!

As many parents know because they find out the hard way, teenagers are excessively judgmental creatures who are usually operating with a limited amount of information and experience. So 19-year-old  Johnston’s perceptions should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, he did live with Alaska’s first family, and was privy to deeply private incidents and attitudes. And the details of what went on inside this apparently dysfunctional American family are juicy.

The Palins frequently fought, says Johnston, and Todd, who sneaked beer in the garage because Sarah didn’t like him drinking, regularly threatened divorce.

Palin, he says, paid more attention to Bristol and Levi’s baby, Tripp, than she did to her own baby, Trig, who was born with Down syndrome and became a symbol of hope for parents of special-needs children during the campaign. Says Johnston: “I couldn’t believe it when she would come over to us and sometimes say, playing around, ‘No, I don’t want the retarded baby — I want the other one’ and pick up Tripp. That was just her, even her kids were used to it.”

Attempts to reach Palin’s spokewoman were unsuccessful.

Maybe Johnston’s quest for attention should be dismissed as only that, but we did enjoy his portrait of Sarah Palin as a busy governor:

“Throughout the years I spent with them, when Sarah got home from her office — almost never later than 5 and sometimes as early as noon — she usually walked in the door, said hello, and then disappeared into her bedroom, where she would hang out. Sometimes, she’d take an hourlong bath. Other times she sat on the living-room couch in her two-piece pajama set from Walmart — she had all the colors — with her hair down, watching house shows and wedding shows on TV. She always wanted things and she always wanted other people to get them for her. If she wanted a movie, Bristol and I would go to the video store; if she wanted food, we’d get her something to eat, like a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell. She’d try to bribe everyone in the house, or give us guilt trips.”

Robin Abcarian
Los Angeles Times

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