The bad news bears

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

To­day’s ad­di­tions to the cat­e­gory of No Good Can Ever Come of This: “Mel Gib­son is on the phone.” “The Bach­e­lorette is close to se­lect­ing the man of her dreams.”

“Bris­tol and Levi are back to­gether.” Let me go out on a limb and say that Sarah Palin was prob­a­bly not happy to learn about her old­est daugh­ter’s re-en­gage­ment to her baby-daddy via an eight-page cover spread in Us Weekly.

“It is in­tim­i­dat­ing and scary just to think about what her re­ac­tion is go­ing to be,” Bris­tol con­fided. “Hope­fully, she will jump on board.”

Not right this very moment. Con­tin­u­ing the fam­ily tra­di­tion of com­mu­ni­cat­ing via press re­lease, Sarah and Todd icily noted that at 19, Bris­tol is an adult. And, in this case, an adult who “be­lieves in re­demp­tion and for­give­ness to a de­gree most of us strug­gle to put in prac­tice in our daily lives.”

The story of how Bris­tol went from su­ing her exsqueeze for child sup­port to ac­cept­ing a new en­gage­ment ring is, like ev­ery­thing about this cou­ple, stu­pen­dously un­re­mark­able. They met to dis­cuss cus­tody ar­range­ments. They took baby Tripp out for a walk. Bris­tol made fun of Levi’s hair. “It was nice,” he re­called. Levi went home. And texted words of love. “The next day we started hang­ing out and, lit­er­ally, we have hung out ev­ery day since,” Bris­tol con­cluded.

Not ex­actly “Wuther­ing Heights” or “Jane Eyre.” (“Reader, I hung out with him.”) Not even “Twi­light,” al­though, like Levi, the per­pet­u­ally teenaged Ed­ward Cullen never man­aged to get through 12th grade.

Johnston has proved to be the only per­son in the world who can make me feel sym­pa­thy for Sarah Palin. He told Us Weekly that he broached the sub­ject of mar­ry­ing Bris­tol at the same fam­ily meet­ing where he apol­o­gized to Sarah for telling the na­tional news me­dia that she was money-hun­gry, in­sen­si­tive, a bad house­keeper, an in­dif­fer­ent mother and a bad shot. As­ton­ish­ingly, the Palins didn’t im­me­di­ately wel­come him back into the clan.

“They want me to get a ca­reer and an ed­u­ca­tion and prove I can take care of Bris­tol be­fore we can even think about get­ting back to­gether,” he re­counted.

Fi­nally, an is­sue on which the en­tire nation can unite. We can’t agree on how to fix the econ­omy, but we are as one when it comes to fix­ing Levi. Get thee to a GED tu­tor.

Bris­tol, who fol­lowed up her Us Weekly ap­pear­ance with a Peo­ple in­ter­view, agreed that be­fore her mother will come around Levi would “have to get his ed­u­ca­tion and a job and be will­ing to sup­port Tripp the right way.” The wrong way was pre­sum­ably Levi’s pre­vi­ous at­tempts to earn a liv­ing by pos­ing for Play­girl.

This can­not be a wel­come change of sub­ject for the for­mer Repub­li­can vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. She’s been on a po­lit­i­cal roll — rais­ing money, mak­ing some pre­scient picks in the Repub­li­can pri­maries. She’s got a hot “mama griz­zlies” video out, in which she touts a new wave of con­ser­va­tive women, ris­ing up to protest ... the bad thing. Palin is re­ally, re­ally vague about ex­actly what the threat is. (The clos­est she gets is “the fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion of Amer­ica.”) But there’s re­ally no need to be spe­cific be­cause, as she says in the video, “Moms kinda just know when some­thing’s wrong.”

The Bris­tol-Levi de­ba­cle, which might be a mi­nor sideshow for an­other politician, looms larger for a Mama Griz­zly.

In­quir­ing minds might want to know why she didn’t sniff trou­ble, rise up on her hind legs and evis­cer­ate that hockey-play­ing thug the first time he fol­lowed her daugh­ter through the kitchen door.

Since Sarah Palin’s own fame seems grounded on lit­tle but a look and an at­ti­tude, you can’t blame the kids for think­ing the same kind of thing would work for them. Bris­tol tried to be­come a celebrity un­wed mother, the anti-teen­preg­nancy spokes­woman for a sexy cloth­ing line. Levi tried to make a name for him­self as the celebrity un­wed mother’s ex-boyfriend. It might have worked out, ex­cept that as a spokes­woman, Bris­tol turned out to have noth­ing to say. And Levi, who kept show­ing up on TV promis­ing to tell “my side of the story,” was close to sub-ver­bal.

But the con­vic­tion that celebrity is trans­fer­able, like chicken pox, is still go­ing strong in Wasilla. Levi has bro­ken re­la­tions with his sis­ter, Mercede, over her in­sis­tence on telling “my side of the story” on The Of­fi­cial Blog of Mercede Johnston. The home page in­cludes a request for do­na­tions and a list of re­cent posts, in­clud­ing, “Time to set the record straight,” and “No I will NOT sit down and shut up!” Her griev­ances seem to cen­ter on Bris­tol, who she claims got preg­nant on pur­pose and then tried to turn her brother against his fam­ily.

Tune in to­mor­row when ... What next? My money’s on an all-Palin-Johnston edi­tion of “Danc­ing with the Stars.”

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