Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston reunite: What it means for Sarah Palin

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston – former boyfriend and father of her son – have reconciled and could be married in six weeks. Politically speaking, is this good for Sarah Palin or Roger Clinton redux?

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/FILE
Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, shown here at the 2008 Republican National Convention, are an item once more. Their renewed engagement could be a help or a hindrance to Sarah Palin's political ambitions.

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston are engaged again, and we’re here to get the discussion rolling on the most important question raised by this exciting news item.

No, it’s not, “WHAT IS SHE THINKING???” We’re not that kind of blog. It’s, “What does this mean for Sarah Palin’s political career?”

After all, ex-Governor Palin appears to be positioning herself to be able to run for president in 2012, if she wants to. The return of Levi is a distraction. It’s a disturbance in her career’s narrative arc. Palin’s preparing to read for a role in a Shakespearean drama, and suddenly Shaggy from the “Scooby Doo” movies has reappeared on stage.

Here at Vote we’re of two minds about this event’s consequences. So we’ll present both of them. You decide.

Why this helps Sarah Palin

The Bristol-Levi reengagement helps Bristol’s mom because it will humanize her.

Today Levi says he was hurt and angry after breaking up with Bristol after the birth of their son, Tripp. He acknowledges that he said things about Sarah Palin that weren’t true. Levi and Bristol told Us Weekly that they reconnected while working out a custody agreement and now hope to get married within six weeks.

This could be a story of redemption. But the backstory remains considerable. Levi criticized Sarah Palin’s parenting skills and posed for the cover of Playgirl. He strutted around Hollywood with an entourage befitting a young show business aspirant. He’s not exactly the typical mother’s idea of her daughter’s future husband.

And that should bring Sarah Palin some sympathy. To this point she has been stereotyped by both opponents and supporters. Now she can be seen for what, in this matter, she probably is: a worried and hopeful real-life parent.

Plus, if the couple does get married, Levi will be within the Palin family tent. Maybe that will make it easier to keep him away from the tabloids.

Why this hurts Sarah Palin

Two words: Roger Clinton.

Roger Clinton, President Clinton’s half-brother, served as an embarrassment and distraction during the latter’s time in office, as Billy Carter did to his brother, President Carter, before that. Bill eventually pardoned Roger for his 1985 cocaine conviction, and Roger has gone on to a minor show business career, appearing in, among other things, the straight-to-video movie “Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.”

If Levi does marry into the Palin family, it might not keep him quiet so much as provide the media with a fresh and apparently bottomless source of entertaining semi-political material. Levi’s sister Mercede has already written on her blog that she believes her brother “is being controlled like a puppet.” Levi’s attorney, Rex Butler, has hit back, saying that Mercede isn’t “privy to information from anyone with Team Levi”.

Sarah Palin is not going to want to answer questions about that at press conferences when she’s trying to help the Republicans take back the House and Senate in 2010.


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