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Mike Huckabee Rips Natalie Portman For “Glamorizing” Single Motherhood

Mike Huckabee just isn’t having a good week.

First, in what he says was a mis-statement, he says that the President was raised in Kenya by a father he barely knew and a grandfather who died before he was born. At the same time, he was correcting that mistake, he said that President Obama had a foreign worldview. Then, he made some insinuation about the President attending a madrassa instead of joining the Boy Scouts like a “real American.” Now, he’s gone after the woman who just won the Academy Award for Best Actress:

Mike Huckabee laced into Oscar winner Natalie Portman for her “out-of-wedlock” pregnancy, saying the expecting star is helping to “glamorize” single motherhood.

Huckabee made the comments on conservative commentator Michael Medved’s radio show this week, after Portman accepted her golden trophy and in her speech thanked her fiance, Benjamin Millepied, for giving her “my most important role of my life.”

Medved led the way on the question, saying the “most wonderful gift” Millepied could have given the diminutive Black Swan star “would be a wedding ring! And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.”

Huckabee said he hadn’t seen the Oscars telecast, but added, “What’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine,’ Media Matters reported on its website

“But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie,” he added.

“And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.

He added, “You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids — across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering.”

Audio and transcript:

MEDVED: Governor, I know you probably are out on book tour right now, you probably didn’t have a chance to watch the Academy Awards last night?

HUCKABEE: I’m very happy to say that I missed it because usually it’s about the most boring waste of several hours that I’ve ever experienced.

MEDVED: Well this was a – this was a low audience. However, there was – there was one moment where a very brilliant and admirable actress named Natalie Portman won Best Actress, and she won for a movie which I loathed called Black Swan. But in any event, she got up, she was very visibly pregnant, and it’s really it’s a problem because she’s about seven months pregnant, it’s her first pregnancy, and she and the baby’s father aren’t married, and before two billion people, Natalie Portman says, ‘Oh I want to thank my love and he’s given me the most wonderful gift.’ He didn’t give her the most wonderful gift, which would be a wedding ring! And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.

HUCKABEE: You know Michael, one of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.’ But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.

You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids — across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering.

MEDVED: It’s tremendously staggering.

Now, of course, Huckabee is right that out of wedlock births do often lead to social problems – although I would bet that he would be opposed to the kind of aggressive contraceptive education programs that actually might help reduce that problem in poor communities — but he’s making the same dumb mistake here that Dan Quayle did twenty years ago. Back then, of course, the Vice-President famously called out a television program for “glamorizing” unwed pregnancy:

The Vice President dared to argue last week in a San Francisco speech that the Los Angeles riots were caused in part by a “poverty of values” that included the acceptance of unwed motherhood, as celebrated in popular culture by the CBS comedy series Murphy Brown. The title character, a divorced news anchorwoman, got pregnant and chose to have the baby, a boy, who was delivered on last Monday’s episode, watched by 38 million Americans. “It doesn’t help matters,” Quayle complained, when Brown, “a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman” is portrayed as “mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another ‘life-style choice.’ “

Of course, rather than stirring a debate, Quayle ended up just making himself more of a target for ridicule, especially since he was picking on a fictional character. In Huckabee’s case, I suspect the reaction will be about the same, with the added benefit that he’s, you know, attacking an actual mother-t0-be. It was absurd to argue then that Murphy Brown was responsible for society’s ills, and it’s absurd now to suggest that Natalie Portman is responsible for today’s.

This does bring up one thought, though, with all the odd things that Huckabee has been saying this week, one wonders if he’s decided that he’s not running for President so he can say whatever he wants.

Update: As one of the comments below points out, Huckabee’s comments are particularly inane given the fact that Portman will be marrying the father of her child in a few weeks.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    Who is glamorizing single motherhood more, Natalie Portman or Bristol Palin?

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  2. Franklin says:

    All’s I can say is that Natalie Portman is amazing in almost every respect, far beyond just her pretty face. By contrast, Huckabee is less than amazing in most respects, although he has slimmed down …

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  3. Dave says:

    It’s an especially bizarre attack given that Portman and Millepied are getting married in a couple weeks.

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  4. anjin-san says:

    My impression of Natalie Portman is that she is a charming and talented woman who has never displayed anything but class during many years in the public eye.

    This attack by Huckabee and Medved is truly reprehensible. If I was Porman’s fiance, I would be looking to do a little ass kicking.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    What’s with these Hollywood celebrities? First, Murphy Brown and now this!

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  6. anjin-san says:

    When you look at Huckabee’s recent comments, a few things stand out.

    1. Everyone is talking about him now
    2. He is fine with saying nasty things about people if it gets him attention
    3. He is supposedly a minister

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  7. anjin-san says:

    > What’s with these Hollywood celebrities? First, Murphy Brown and now this!

    That would be funny James, except nothing about this is funny. Your party dude, hope you are proud of it.

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  8. ponce says:

    “2. He is fine with saying nasty things about people if it gets him attention”

    To right wing Americans, Huckabee is known simply as “cop killer.”

    Can you blame him for looking for a new audience?

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  9. Peterh says:

    Now even I’m startin’ to doubt Darwin…..cuz these people just don’t friggin evolve…is there a place for an asterisk in science?

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  10. Janis Gore says:

    I at one time thought he was charming. Whatever.

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  11. sam says:

    Speaking of Natalie Portman, Natalie Portman, Oscar Winner, Was Also a Precocious Scientist..

    One more reason for fundament right to hate her.

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  12. reid says:

    By contrast, Huckabee is less than amazing in most respects, although he has slimmed down

    Actually, I noticed recently how much weight he’s regained. I bet he’s a good 50 pounds over his low point. Too bad. I think he originally made a big name for himself many years ago as the obese governor who got back in shape (and he was pretty trim a few years ago), so it’s sad that he couldn’t keep it off.

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  13. wr says:

    Funny, I haven’t been able to find where he criticized Bristol Palin for glamorizing teen pregnancy.

    And yes, he has been gaining the weight back. But no one is supposed to mention that, for some reason. It’s like when we were all supposed to pretend that Brooke Shields was funny.

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  14. anjin-san says:

    Interesting link Sam. So in addition to her obvious gifts, Portman is also highly intelligent. Yea, it’s no wonder these cats don’t dig her.

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  15. oldsmobile98 says:

    anjin-san:

    Portman has “never displayed anything but class”?

    Clearly you’ve never heard of her vile rap aired on SNL.

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  16. The Trooper says:

    Gee, Huck. You and your wife had a son within the holy confines of marriage, and he turned out to be an animal torturing psychopath.

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  17. matt b says:

    Huckabee has been saying this week, one wonders if he’s decided that he’s not running for President so he can say whatever he wants.

    Different possibility: He is running for president, and after last time, knows that he will *not* win the fiscal vote and so he’s doubling down on Social Conservatives (who are again unlikely to vote for Mitt). I’m not sure who else on the ballot has any real chance at their votes.

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  18. anjin-san says:

    > Clearly you’ve never heard of her vile rap aired on SNL.

    Umm. You do know what “performer” means, no? I guess not.

    I was talking about how she lives her life.

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  19. michael reynolds says:

    Ah, the Huckabuffoon.

    I love it when politicians try to critique culture. They always make asses of themselves. I mean: always.

    Dear Washington: you’re all so desperately old and out-of-touch. Stop talking about music, movies, books, TV and games, etc.

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  20. ponce says:

    “Clearly you’ve never heard of her vile rap aired on SNL.”

    I still blame her for those horrible “Star Wars” movies.

    Well, her and Jar Jar.

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  21. EddieInCA says:

    > Clearly you’ve never heard of her vile rap aired on SNL.

    1. If it was on SNL, it couldn’t have been “vile” or else the FCC would have had an issue with it.
    2. Define “vile”. I imagine in your world, artists such as Eminem, JayZ, Naz, Beyonce, Ludacris, and The Beastie Boys are vile.
    3. If you thought her rap was “vile”, you’ve lived a very sheltered life, and are very fortunate…. or pathetic.

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  22. michael reynolds says:

    Clearly Huckabee has never examined this properly:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_rr6vRSfjBTQ/TLJqBSpUA-I/AAAAAAAAAkQ/xoq-6KBsrqc/s1600/natalie-portman3.jpg

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  23. Dodd says:

    I already knew the Huckster was an idiot. Now I know he’s stupid, too.

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  24. Kylopod says:

    I thought the SNL skit was pretty funny. She was making fun of her own squeaky-clean image (and yes, she does have a squeaky-clean image, despite the fact that she’s pregnant before she will become a married mom). Here is the skit, for those who haven’t seen it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGwWEXME0EE

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  25. sam says:

    @AJ

    “Interesting link Sam.”

    Yeah. And I hope the next time any of you use your cell phone, you give a little shout out to Hedy Lamarr, because her, and her co-creator’s, technical innovation is the foundation of the cell phone technology we use today. For those of you who’ve never seen any of her movies, here’s a picture, http://www.classicfilmstars.com/img/hedylamarr1.jpg.

    And I found this, today: James Franco Straddles Two Roles at Yale. Franco’s working on a PhD in English at Yale, while he does all the other stuff in his life. Where do these kids get the physical and mental energy?

    The movie business has got to be, bar none, the most interesting industry on Planet Earth.

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  26. Murray says:

    This moron would deserve the “spreading Santorum” treatment.

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  27. [...] while Mike Huckabee might not approve of  Natalie Portman, she was a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search and studied neuroscience at Harvard. [...]

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  28. Franklin says:

    Holy crap, that rap was rather unexpected and actually well-performed compared to most (dare I say it) white people trying to rap. But maybe it’s just because she can do no wrong in my eyes.

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  29. Alex Knapp says:

    Didn’t Mary get pregnant before she got married? And she didn’t even get married to the father of her child!

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  30. Johanna Collins says:

    Let’s see –
    Republicans increasingly are making contraception difficult to obtain.
    They are waging a war on abortion..
    And now they are saying that children born out of wedlock but to parents who love them and can support them is reprehensible.

    The founding fathers did not try to control reproductive rights. who gave the tea party the right?

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  31. KLG says:

    Actually–Portman IS engaged to the father of her child.

    I think it is “funny” that people who want to de-fund planned parenthood who provides people with affordable birth control and who are anti-abortion chastise single mothers. So you wish the single mothers had an abortion then? You claim to be pro-life…but then you put down women who choose to have and keep their child?

    Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot!

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  32. [...] Dear Mike Huckabee… posted in: Main Comments (0) [...]

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  33. Hey Norm says:

    Clearly the answer to this problem is to outlaw abortions even in the case of rape or incest…er…oh, wait…

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  34. [...] Outside the Beltway [...]

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  35. Mercer says:

    Children raised without their father fare worse in many areas then children raised with both parents . Huck has committed the sin of telling the truth.

    People blame schools for poorly performing students when research clearly shows that parents are a far more important factor. Many people are offended when Huck points this out because they don’t want to criticize anyone’s lifestyle. When children raised by single moms do worse then children raised by both parents I see nothing wrong with telling the truth.

    BTW I am an agnostic who despises the Palins.

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  36. [...] Mike Huckabee Rips Natalie Portman For “Glamorizing” Single Motherhood (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  37. matt says:

    Mercer : As the son of a single woman I cannot help but laugh at your attempt to excuse poor parenting…

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  38. [...] not running for President so he can say whatever he wants," Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis writes. Or, as Adrian Chen reponds at Gawker,"Yeah, why isn't Natalie Portman sleeping in [...]

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  39. tom p says:

    Didn’t Mary get pregnant before she got married? And she didn’t even get married to the father of her child!

    OK, I got my laugh for the day! Thanx Alex.

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  40. Comon says:

    The reason so many people get their feathers ruffled at his comment is that so many people are effected by single parents. Either your the child of one or know someone in this situation. I am the son of a single mother and appreciate all she did, but I would have given anything to have my father there too. Just because something is common place doesn’t make it right. Mr. Huckabee can comment on who he likes. Firing back “I didn’t hear him talking about this girl or that” doesn’t make his point any less valid. Too many people are living backwards. It should be marriage,sex,children. Like any good plan it makes sense. Getting naked with someone isn’t love. Which is proven true by the divorce rates. To all you angry people, you wouldn’t want the current state of marriage to go back to how it used to be? Was it perfect? Nothing is, but when people took there vows seriously, this country was in better shape in all aspects. I doubt I’ll get any level headed responses. One can always hope.

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  41. matt says:

    Comon : wow just wow you use the divorce rate as proof that sex =/= love lol. I would say that marriage =/= love based on the divorce rate…

    In the past people were just forced to be in marriages they didn’t want to be in so the children suffered greatly. Nothing sucks more as a kid then having to deal with the animosity and fights between your parents all the time on top of all the other stresses..

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  42. matt says:

    Basically I’m calling your ‘back in my day marriages were all perfect” bullshit…

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  43. Comon says:

    Just the response I was expecting. Did anyone use the word perfect but you? Your first comment makes no sense to me. I repeat marriage,sex,children. Love starts the process. Marriage is the greatest responsibility and promise you can make. Not keeping vows you take in front of God and family is something I will never defend. No one has ever been forced to stay in any marriage. Unless you are going to cite some extreme examples and call that the rule. Calling something”bullshit” without at least a shred of coherent thought behind it means less than nothing. Also leaves a bit to be desired.

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  44. Mercer says:

    “We know that children who grow up without a father are more likely to live in poverty. They’re more likely to drop out of school. They’re more likely to wind up in prison. They’re more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They’re more likely to run away from home. ”

    Those are the “inane”, “absurd” words of a man raised without a father. You can read them here:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-a-fathers-day-event

    I am sure the people criticizing Huck also think Obama should be ridiculed.

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  45. mantis says:

    I am sure the people criticizing Huck also think Obama should be ridiculed.

    The people criticizing him because he attacked a pregnant woman who is engaged to be married in the coming weeks, not because he expressed concern for single mothers and their children. This is something you would know if you bothered to pay attention.

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  46. sam says:

    “Getting naked with someone isn’t love. Which is proven true by the divorce rates.”

    Speaking of divorce rates and Hucklandia.

    [T]he areas of the country where divorce rates are highest are also frequently the areas where many conservative Christians live.

    Kentucky, Mississippi and Arkansas, for example, voted overwhelmingly for constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. But they had three of the highest divorce rates in 2003, based on figures from the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.

    The lowest divorce rates are largely in the blue states: the Northeast and the upper Midwest. And the state with the lowest divorce rate was Massachusetts, home to John Kerry, the Kennedys and same-sex marriage.

    In 2003, the rate in Massachusetts was 5.7 divorces per 1,000 married people, compared with 10.8 in Kentucky, 11.1 in Mississippi and 12.7 in Arkansas. [To Avoid Divorce, Move to Massachusetts]

    Ironic, since the “decadent” blue states pretty much subsidize the “moral” red states. Wonder what will happen if the Tea Party succeeds in shutting off the federal tit to those places?

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  47. Steve Anthony says:

    Huckabee didn’t have the cajones to call out Bristol Pailn for her pregnancy at 17 years old!

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  48. matt says:

    No one has ever been forced to stay in any marriage.

    HAHAH okay there’s utterly no hope for you when you reject clear and basic facts…

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  49. Out of children wedlock? WTF? Oops, that’s the president’s new mantra, sorry.

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  50. anjin-san says:

    > Getting naked with someone isn’t love.

    Not always. But it is a lot of fun if it’s the right someone. And fun is important too. You would know that if you had some actual life experience.

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  51. Julie says:

    Ok wake up America! What he was saying is true in that America looks at people in Hollywood and although I like Natalie Portman, I think she is a great actress but she is irresponsible in getting pregnant before she got married. Her father she states is a fertility doctor and how thankful she is for being able to be pregnant. Why couldn’t she set a good example for teenage girls and women in general and get married and then have a child. Did she learn anything from her movie Where the Heart Is about a pregnant teenage girl who gives birth in a Walmart. Oh, thats right , NO she didn’t because in the movie in the end she ended up married to a man who really loved her and was happy to take care of her and her child she had by some other guy. How often does this really happen like basically never. I think that movie was sweet its a good movie but not reality and yes Natalie Portman and any other famous person is setting a bad example for teenage girls and women that sure get pregant before your married and things work out just fine. When in reality my family and the rest of the American tax payers are footing the bill for a big portion of unwed pregnant girls and women to give them prenatal care, pay for the birth of their babies and pay for their welfare check and quite frankly I’m sick of it. Sure some women like Natalie make way more or enough to pay for a kid but stop making it look like its so wonderful to be pregnant and not married. It isn’t!! She should be ashamed of herself. Oh,, thats another problem with America they see nothing wrong with having no morals, having kids outside a marriage. Grow up people and get some morals.

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  52. matt says:

    Julie : Odd that I never see you rage against Bristol…

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  53. wr says:

    Julie — You might be happier if you spent less time worrying about how people you will never meet live their lives.

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  54. Pug says:

    I like Natalie Portman, I think she is a great actress but she is irresponsible in getting pregnant before she got married.

    Frankly, Julie, Natalie Portman’s personal life is none of your damn business. And it’s none of Mike Huckabee’s business, either.

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  55. An Interested Party says:

    Grow up people and get some morals.

    Yes indeed, we should go back to the good ‘ole days when morals produced arranged marriages, women treated as property with little to no rights, “accidental” pregnancies hushed up through sham adoptions or state-run orphanages, etc….yes…so moral…

    Sure some women like Natalie make way more or enough to pay for a kid but stop making it look like its so wonderful to be pregnant and not married.

    Who, exactly, is making this look wonderful?

    Finally, as far as shame is concerned, you should feel some of it yourself for being so judgmental and trying to tell other people how they should live their lives…

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  56. G.A.Phillips says:

    Well, her and Jar Jar

    dude, Jar Jar was cool! Plus he reminds me of a lot of you guys….

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  57. john personna says:

    The Bristol Palin reminder is a good one.

    I’m autistic enough that I had a hard time reconciling the GOP as a “family values” party, with Bristol on-stage at their Convention. I put it down finally, to kind of a backwoods morality. You know, things happen, but you go to church on Sunday.

    I guess Portman doesn’t prominently go to church on Sunday?

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  58. wr says:

    You’re right, JP. Bristol Palin is moral in that family kind of thing. Meanwhile, Natalie Portman is a slut because she’s a Jew.

    When did the right wing decide to stop hiding what they really believed?

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  59. Kylopod says:

    Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We don’t need to read some Christian-Jew thing into this. We can stick to the simpler explanation that he’s just being crassly partisan. And there was an interesting theory floated about at Andrew Sullivan’s blog: the idea that Huck’s statement was essentially a backhanded slap at Sarah Palin, his potential rival for the nomination:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/03/huckagaffe-ctd.html

    This makes sense to me. I’ve speculated for a while now that Palin’s rivals would find ways to make coded attacks against her, because more explicit attacks might backfire. As we know, she’s very good at playing the victim. She’s probably poised to jump at even the slightest insinuation about her and make her opponent out to be a sexist pig. But given that Huck has framed his remarks as an attack on a liberal Hollywood star, the slight is so deeply buried that she has no way of uncovering it.

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  60. gVOR08 says:

    “What’s with these Hollywood celebrities? First, Murphy Brown and now this!” – Joyner.

    I guess this is a step up from Dan Quayle. At least Natalie Portman is a real person.

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  61. Barry says:

    wr says:

    “Funny, I haven’t been able to find where he criticized Bristol Palin for glamorizing teen pregnancy.”

    That’s because he praised her. IIRC, as having values, and demonstrating good family stuff and whatnot.

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  62. [...] health services.  And the women who do choose to have the baby?  God forbid they’ll be single moms when that baby finally takes its first breath.  Single moms are pariahs, parasites, and immoral [...]

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