I don’t like Meg Whitman. I don’t agree with her policies and I would never vote for her in a million years. Even though I don’t like her, I think most of the stories about her children’s bad behavior are completely irrelevant and unfair. (I say ‘most’ because one son committed a crime and injured a woman. I can understand covering this.) Blogs and media outlets have been covering the antics of “the Harsh brothers” and digging up stories about drunken dorm parties and temper tantrums at rugby games. The biggest problem is that some people are using this as ammunition that Whitman couldn’t possibly be a good governor if she wasn’t a good mother.
First of all, we have no way of knowing whether or not Whitman was a good mother. Her children have never come out and spoken against her (that I’m aware of). Even the best parents in the world can produce less-than-stellar offspring. While parenting obviously contributes to a child’s personality and actions, it is not the only indicator. As children grow up, and especially once they move out on their own, their behavior is less and less a reflection of their parents’ teaching and more of an individual’s expression of their own thoughts and beliefs. You can argue that a parent instills those thoughts, but only to a point.
The best example of this: think back to your time in college. Think of those drunken nights with your friends, hookups you regret, classes you skipped and general disregard for society outside of the campus bubble. Did that reflect your parents? Sure, we can all pretend that we were angels in college and studied until midnight every night. But let’s be honest, I worked at a bar called Sanctuary and was required to wear a Catholic school girl uniform. My parents were intensely embarrassed by this, just like I would be if it were my daughter. And if my mother were running for political office, I bet someone would dig up of photo of me in that little plaid skirt. I would be portayed as the next Montana Fishburne before people realized that I’m now a happily married woman with an 8-5 job and a toddler. And most importantly, no one would realize that my mother was completely amazing. I just happened to be an idiot while I was in college. Like almost everyone I know.
Secondly, some blogs are asking if male politicians would be getting the same scrutiny? In fact, my first thought was, “Because she’s the mother, the children are her responsibility and so are their actions. What bullshit!” And then, I had to stop myself and think about the Bush twins. George Bush got terrible press every time his college-aged daughters made a mistake. People automatically assume that if your children mess up, it’s all your – the parents’ – fault. But not just as a mother, as a daughter, I’m not sure that’s the case. We’re all individuals and our actions should reflect our own personalities, not those are the people who raised us. Because personally, I wouldn’t want my parents blamed for all the dumb moves I’ve made. They were pretty incredible, even if I didn’t always live up to the example they set.
So if you aren’t going to vote for Meg Whitman, choose a reason like her views on immigration or global warming or gay marriage. Or maybe it’s because she says obnoxious things like “This is a battle for the soul of California.” That annoys me, too. But don’t vote against Meg Whitman because her sons happen to be douchey college kids. There are lots of those out there.