The XX Factor

“Trust Me. Nobody.’

The Palin family’s message machine seems to have gone haywire of late. Gov. Sarah has plastered on her serious face, forswearing this month’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington to concentrate on the recession in Alaska. She sent her husband to D.C. instead to hang with Greta Van Susteren but say nothing to the cameras. At one WHCA post-party, former Palin running-mate-in-law Meghan McCain seemed confused about how to deal with the wildly unpredictable, suddenly high-profile family. “Oh man, there’s Todd Palin,” she told a group of young reporters. “Do I have to go say hi?”

Yes - and if you’re walking down any supermarket shopping aisle, you’re going to have to enjoy Bristol Palin’s graduation photos in People magazine (she’s the class of 2009), which accompany shots of her young son and an exclusive interview with penetrating insights like:

“If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex,” says Bristol, sitting at her parents’ lakeside patio table. “Trust me. Nobody.”

Is that the best that she could come up with? Someone needs to prep this child on how to be a responsible steward of the public platform she enjoys , even if as a result of a now-admitted mistake. This comment is patronizing to women - did her boyfriend, Levi, not get the whole “you might have a baby” component when they switched from heavy petting to something more? And it is also fundamentally empty. Bristol, who claims “her near future will include advocating for teen-pregnancy prevention ,” might have enumerated some of the consequences or any of the myriad ways to avoid her predicament. Instead, she resorts to a half-hearted scare tactic. (“Really. NO one.”)

We’ve gone back and forth about Bristol Palin’s ability to advocate for safe and smart teen sexuality (some think she’s pretty good ), but this most recent statement is certainly a reason not to “trust her.” Maybe she’s been hijacked by abstinence-only advocates, but the younger girls in a recent New York profile on Jane Addams’ High - a school for pregnant teens - seem to better grasp the stakes and statistics they encounter or now represent.