During Sarah Palin’s UNcampaign-campaign road trip some raw footage was shot, posted online and has since gone viral. In fact, I’ve seen the clip on so many sites I can’t figure out who to ht/.

The clip is of Sarah and Piper on the street, stopped by a small handful of reporters. Sarah actually approaches one of the reporters, a gesture I’m sure she meant as an  ‘Ok I’ll talk to you guys now’ invitation to chat. Unfortunately, it seems her youngest daughter Piper didn’t get the memo as she becomes physically aggressive towards a man extending a microphone to her mother, literally pushing her own body against his protectively herding him away from Sarah like a trained cattle dog.

In response, the reporter(s) try to move in closer, even as Sarah herself moves towards them, trapping Piper a circle of big people who inadvertantly crowd Piper as a result.

I have many comments to make here. Just as soon as my blood stops boiling and I can focus without seeing red…

Parenting comes with a unique set of basic instincts that helps us protect our children while they’re infants.  More often than not those instincts continue to grow as we grow into our roles as parents and our children grow into adults. But some parenting skills need to be learned. Beyond the  traditional skills of cooking, nesting and earning a living, there are social skills that we as parents need to learn ourselves in order to instill in our children. Good habits and manners must be learned before they can be passed along. Parents need to learn communication skills to guard against sending our kids mixed or wrong messages. But when the parent is overly wrapped up in his or her own life or work or drama…

Piper’s behaviour in this video clip is clearly learned. She has obviously overheard her mother and father and their friends and security teams and advisors discuss the evils of the media and how important it is for Sarah not to be shanghied by reporters asking questions that would unravel Sarah’s political chances in her uncampaign-campaign for president.

Piper proves this by deliberately interjecting herself into what any other child would perceive as just another adult conversation. In a gesture designed to protect her mother from the evil reporter asking his evil questions, Piper rushes to the rescue. Piper would have no motive to display hostility towards these reporters without being taught by an adult. Clearly she is responding to attitudes learned in the home.

First and foremost, look at the beginning of the clip:

You’re in an unfamiliar town on a crowded street. Put clothes on your kid. It was not appropriate for Piper to be in a crowd of mostly male reporters with hotpants-styled short-shorts. Longer shorts that covered the thighs – perhaps. But if the tee-shirt was meant to set the theme, designer jeans would have been more age-appropriate for this predictable scenario. This wasn’t the desert. You weren’t at the beach. This was a public crowd on a city street which promised to only get bigger as more people identified you as Sarah Palin. Did you really mean for your young daughter to be bare-legged in a crowd full of strangers, mostly male?

Please note in the above still that Sarah was the one to approach the reporter – not the other way around. Sarah crossed in front of Piper to get to the reporter and offer a handshake.

It could be argued that Piper moved in between her mother and the reporter to attract attention but – look how she’s already pushed his right arm against his chest with her shoulder.

And now she’s literally using her whole body to push him away from Sarah – who, by the way, continues to move forward, speaking throughout (and not missing a single talking point) yet clearly overlooking her daughter’s actions, ignoring her presence entirely.

And while Sarah moves closer to the blocked-by-Piper reporter, other reporters are also moving closer and Piper begins to whine. Sarah appears oblivious to her daughter’s unpleasant predicament and just keeps talking.

And here’s the still that almost got lost in the commotion. Sarah’s chatting away, the reporter who is personally blocked by Piper desperately reaches over Pipers head with his microphone while attempting all the while to not crowd Piper in the process, as evidenced by his careful posture and the fact that he placed his other arm between Pipers head and his chest. But the parent in the room is the gentleman reporter on the left…

…that’s what a parent does to protect his child from falling, from being hit, from being crowded. A parent extends his arm to keep the child safe – from walking or falling in harm’s way.

Piper is now whinging, crying out “leave me alone!” and Sarah just keeps talking.

My feeling – and while it’s my own it’s not an uneducated or inexperienced observation –  is that Piper has been growing up for the past three years in an atmosphere of adults complaining about how bad reporters are and how much they hurt her mother. Children have their own built-in instincts and Piper is just at the beginning of the age where kids dream of being the hero.

I don’t for a moment believe Piper has been vying for attention in this or any of the road-trip-from-Hell photos taken of her restless, apparently rude behaviour. I believe she thinks she’s coming to her mother’s rescue.  Putting herself betwen her mother and the enemy would be a brave thing to do.

And if you’d lived in a home where the media was constantly portrayed as evil, vile, lame and ‘out-to-get-you’ – you’d probably think it was brave, too.

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