ST. PAUL, Minn. -- I'm trying to connect the dots here. . . . Unmarried teen five months pregnant, will marry father. . . . She's the daughter of the GOP vice presidential nominee, the little-known Alaska governor, at the center of a controversy over a fired Alaskan state trooper. . . . Republicans at their convention Monday adopt platform calling for increased funding for abstinence education.
There's another hurricane in the news, and it is not Gustav -- it's John McCain's surprise choice for vice president, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Hurricane Sarah is energizing the Republicans.
The delegates I talked to at the convention here, with only a few exceptions, are gung-ho for Palin.
Hurricane Sarah blew in as a unique political force with a life story McCain could not resist. She is a pro-life, pro-union hunter and athlete with five kids -- one a Down syndrome baby -- who sticks it to self-serving establishment Republicans in her home state.
McCain's team wants her to poke at Barack Obama's bragging about being a reformer by calling on him to cite when and where he took on the corruption that comes out of Chicago's City Hall or in Springfield, where he was a state senator.
Now there are other twists, and I can't imagine the McCain team will be able to sell them as a plus.
Palin and her husband Todd acknowledged Monday that daughter Bristol, 17, is pregnant. She will marry the father. The Palins issued a plea for privacy four days after the family was thrust into the national spotlight -- by choice -- when the McCain-Palin ticket was born Friday morning. At least this may put to rest rumors that Palin's baby born in April was really her daughter's, and the governor was faking a pregnancy in a cover-up.
A reason Joe Biden was a smart pick for Barack Obama was that after two presidential campaigns and decades in the Senate, he was vetted, not only by Obama's team, but by the investigative press. That won't preclude negative stories; it's just that the campaign can anticipate them. Campaigns hate surprises when it is on them.
Palin was seen as such a long shot by the Obama team, they did not bother much preparing for her arrival. They figured that a probe into whether she influenced the firing of her former brother-in-law, an Alaskan state trooper, would knock her out of contention.
Now, just before Palin is to speak to the nation at the GOP convention this week, two distractions are in play: her daughter's pregnancy and increased media attention on the Alaska trooper firing story. The McCain campaign seemed unprepared for how fast this would swell. The party line from the McCain team -- coming pretty late on Monday -- is that Palin is an "open book" who did "nothing wrong" and has "nothing to hide."
Margaret McSweeney, an elected McCain delegate from the Northwest Chicago suburb of Barrington Hills, told me as far as Bristol's pregnancy goes, "I truly believe that the American people can separate the child from the candidate."
Maybe, if there was time for the public to absorb all of this.
Which brings me to the Republican platform adopted Monday with a call for increased funding for abstinence education for unmarried teens.
Now let's see where the dots lead.