On the Laura Ingraham Radio show, Friday, attorney Howard Gutman -- an original member of the national finance committee for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. -- very directly criticized the parenting of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Ingraham was taking issue with a column by Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn, asking whether Palin's 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy is raising "the question among the evangelical base about whether Sarah Palin has been enough of a hands-on mother."
Pondered Quinn: "Not only do we have a woman with five children, including an infant with special needs, but a woman whose 17-year-old child will need her even more in the coming months. Not to mention the grandchild. This would inevitably be an enormous distraction for a new vice president (or president) in a time of global turmoil."
To Ingraham, the insinuation was sexist, since no one would ask such questions of a man.
Gutman said the issue wasn't one of gender, but one of parenting -– regardless of the gender of the parent.
"This has nothing to do with gender, whether Todd Palin was the nominee or Sarah Palin was the nominee," Gutman said. "If my daughter had just come home at 17 years old and said, 'Mom, Dad, I'm pregnant, we have a family problem,' I wouldn't say, 'You know what we're going to do? We're going to take this private family problem...and you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go on the international stage and broadcast this to the world.'"
Gutman continued, "this wasn't a working mother issue, this was a parent issue…The proper attack is not that a woman shouldn't run for vice president with five kids, it's that a parent, when they have a family in need, a Down's baby who needs them -- mother or father."
"So you are judging her parenting skills," Ingraham said. "You're saying you don't think she's a good parent for doing this job."
"I'm saying the proper criticism is not that it's a woman or man – it doesn't matter whether it's Todd or Sarah," Gutman said. "Think of how many politicians have said it's not the right time in my family's life for me to run."
Gutman cited approvingly Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., in 2004 and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner in 2008, both of whom said they weren't going to pursue the presidency because it wasn't the right time for their families.
"They put their family above their career," Gutman said. "Your responsibility is to put your family first."
"So you're saying she's not putting family first," Ingraham said.
"Absolutely not," Gutman said. "If you take a daughter who's got this emotional strife and subject her to the most intense scrutiny of the world at this time in her life, I think you've put your career above your family."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton, asked to respond to Gutman's remarks, said "Obviously these comments do not reflect our frequently stated views that families of the candidates should be off limits."
Several times during the interview, Ingraham expressed bewilderment that the Obama campaign would attack Palin's parenting. Gutman said, "I don't give you talking points, Laura, I give you Howard points."
UPDATE: Gutman e-mails to say, "I am writing about certain comments I said on the Laura Ingraham Show. The comments were largely taken out of context, although by the end, I plainly went too far, for which I apologize.
"The full transcript will reflect that Laura had attacked comments of others, such as Sally Quinn as reflecting gender bias. My comments began and were intended to focus on the fact that the critiques of others were not necessarily related to gender. That such comments could reflect that candidates -- male or female -- often decide that, because of circumstances involving their children, it was not the time to run for national office, which would necessarily cast much scrutiny on their families and make it harder for children and the family unit to deal privately with issues.
"I mentioned, as examples, Evan Bayh's decision 4 years ago not to run for national office and Mark Warner's decision not to do it this year. I explained that the comments of others thus were not necessarily aimed at holding mothers or fathers to different standards, but just reflecting the commentator's disagreement with parental choice to attract national attention at a time of family difficulty. That point -- that I was talking about the comments of others and dealing with the issue of the existence of gender bias -- is reflected in virtually the entire interview.
"Upon re-reading the very end, however, I do believe I went too far as I did not mean to make a value judgment about anyone's parenting. The Obama campaign firmly believes that the families of candidates should be off limits and I completely agree with that view. I never intended to discuss the family of any candidate nor make judgments about the candidate's personal decisions, but simply to address the issue of whether the comments of others reflected gender bias. But my last comment goes beyond that and I apologize for it."
Well, I clearly put his comments in the context he complains his comments were taken out of, and I'm not sure it was only at the very end that he made any sort of a judgment of Palin's parenting, but there you have it.