Rod Dreher

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston are going to get married. It says something about our screwed-up culture that they announced this in an exclusive cover story for US magazine, but anyway, there it is. Our curmudgeonly friend John E. Agnostic Stoic sent the news, saying that it warmed his cynical heart. My first thought was, “Well, good: now their child will have a mom and a dad. They’re trying to make the best of a bad situation. Maybe this is a redemption story. Good on ’em.” bristol.jpg
But on second thought, I’m not so sure. Look:

“I really thought we were over,” Levi tells Us Weekly. “So when I went, I had no hope. I think we both just started talking — and then we took Tripp for a walk.”
Says Bristol, “When he left that night, we didn’t hug or kiss, but I was thinking how different it was. He texted me: ‘I miss you. I love you. I want to be with you again’ … I was in shock.”
Now comes the hard part: Getting the blessing of Sarah Palin, who has made no secret of her feelings for Levi. He provoked her fury last fall when he claimed that she had called her infant son Trig (who has Down syndrome) “retarded.” She fired back, telling reporters that anyone who posed for Playgirl would “say and do anything for even more attention.” Later, during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, she dubbed him “Ricky Hollywood” and called his “aspiring porn” career “heartbreaking.”
Says Bristol, “It is intimidating and scary just to think about what her reaction is going to be. Hopefully she will jump on board.”
The Palins released a statement on the Today show Wednesday morning: “Bristol at 19 is now a young adult. We obviously want what’s best for our children. Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives.”

I’m not a Sarah Palin fan, but I think that’s a classy statement, considering that they obviously think it would be a disaster for their daughter to marry this lunkhead. Leaving aside Sarah Palin’s personal animosity toward Levi for the things he said about her, I think it would be a difficult position for any parent to be in. Would I want my daughter to marry her unsuitable boyfriend so their child could have both parents, and hope that he will grow up and reform? Or would I put my foot down and say that the better of two bad choices would be for them not to marry, and compound their mistake? As the Palins say, it’s no longer their choice, because Bristol is an adult. Still, it’s got to be hard on the Palins to see this happening. Now they’re going to have to deal with Porn Boy at holiday dinners.
Do you see the Bristol-Levi engagement as good news — a hopeful story, I mean — or bad news? Leaving aside the particulars of their situation and personalities, do you have a general view of whether or not young couples who get pregnant outside of marriage should marry? My general view is that that should be their first inclination, but I don’t believe that either should make a bad situation worse by committing themselves to what looks to be a very problematic marriage. I am not terribly impressed with what we’ve seen of Levi Johnston’s character since we first learned about him, but then again, people can change. What I can’t decide is whether or not what Bristol and Levi are doing is the responsible thing or the irresponsible thing. Are they being mature, or immature? It’s impossible to know, I guess, without knowing them both. Still, it’s worth discussing whether or not marriage should be the default position of young adults in their situation — I mean, whether or not they should plan to marry, absent a good reason not to.
That they went to US magazine to announce this is depressing, and says something about how trivial both of them are. And hey, me too! You’ve got methane volcanos, and now Bristol ‘n Levi’s wedding here on this blog. It’s like a double feature at the Prytania!

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