First Lady Michelle Obama has been a strong advocate for reducing the childhood obesity rates of the nation’s youngest citizens, culminating in her recent “Let’s Move” campaign and the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Former Governor Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is spittin’ nails at what she views as government intrusion in parents’ decisions of how to raise their children.
I often write my own editorials around public policy or political debates in which I share how I can see both sides of an issue… But in this case, I think Sarah Palin is either a naive idiot or a clever schemer on this issue.
Mrs. Palin has made a few public jabs recently on the subject of Mrs. Obama’s anti-childhood-obesity efforts, which have primarily focused on getting children to be more active and having guidelines for healthier food options in schools.
On this week’s episode of her reality television show, she was shopping for a family camping trip and sniped for the camera, “Where are the s’mores ingredients? This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.” And last month on a radio program hosted by Laura Ingraham, Mrs. Palin opined, “Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back” and added, “the first lady cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat.”
She also apparently delivered cookies to a Pennsylvania school before giving a speech there last month, saying, “Who should be deciding what I eat? Should it be government or should it be parents? It should be the parents.”
All of this in response to reports from the Associated Press that, “One in 3 American children is overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other illnesses. Obesity is even more prevalent among black and Hispanic children. Some public health experts say today’s children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents.”
It’s shocking to me that Mrs. Palin takes issue with a campaign to get kids used to being more physically active, in an era of hours upon hours of television, video games, and computer time instead of play that involves exercise. And it’s absolutely absurd that Palin would consider guidelines suggesting healthy food options in public schools to be intruding upon parents’ ability to raise their children.
So the question becomes, is she really this naive? Is she really so caught up on the principle that government shouldn’t even make recommendations for how to help kids grow up healthy, based on completely non-political medical science? Or is there something more devious going on in her mind?
Could it be that Mrs. Palin is using this as an opportunity to continue fanning the flames of anti-government resentment? Is objecting to health-focused guidelines really just another line of attack to rabble-rouse the conservative masses who are ideologically opposed to what they perceive as “big government” overstepping its bounds?
Is Sarah Palin bribing our youth with cookies?
Okay, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch. 😛 But seriously, I have to believe that Mrs. Palin doesn’t truly object to public policy statements that kids should be encouraged to be more active, and that they should select from healthy food options in public schools. She can’t possibly have a reasonable gripe with those things, can she?
From my perspective, I have to conclude that this is shameless pandering to an anti-government base. No public figure should use manufactured controversy over kids’ health and wellbeing as rallying cries for personal political motivations. And as both a parent and a grandparent, Mrs. Palin should be ashamed of herself.