There is a generally accepted rule in politics that you don't involve the minor children of candidates in the hurly burly and mudslinging of campaigns, unless there are legalities involved. It is just slimy and since many candidates are parents the primal call to protect their own young overcomes the will to win. One of the main reasons I write under a pseudonym is because I have young children and I don't want them to be held accountable for what I write.
One of our regional elected officials has violated that basic standing rule. Curt Weldon the incumbent Republican congressman in the 7th district has brought Democratic challenger Joe Sestak's 5 year old daughter into the campaign in the most despicable fashion possible. Sestak's daughter has a brain tumor and is being treated in Virginia where the family had been living while Sestak was in the Navy. According to The Hill:
Weldon attacked Sestak’s decision to continue owning a home in Virginia while only renting in Pennsylvania and questioned why Sestak did not move back to Pennsylvania when he was working at the Pentagon. Weldon commutes from Pennsylvania each day.
Weldon also suggested Sestak should have sent his daughter to a hospital in Philadelphia or Delaware, rather than the Washington hospital. Sestak said that as soon as doctors give his daughter the all-clear, he’ll buy in Pennsylvania.
Sestak has responded with a statement. Part of it is excerpted below:
I understand the political arena. I knew that this campaign would thrust my family into the media spotlight and we are prepared for that. But I want to make it very clear to Congressman Weldon, that any remarks regarding my daughter, Alexandria's, treatment will not be tolerated.
Like many families dealing with illness, we have had our challenges in the last year. Through the grace of God, the many prayers of our friends and family, and the wonderful doctors and nurses, we have made it through this experience with our daughter Alex, who continues to inspire us everyday.
Though we recognize the important work done by the many hospitals in and around Philadelphia, it was our personal choice to have Alex treated in Washington at the Children's Hospital because of its outstanding work on pediatric brain tumors. This decision was based on many things none of which were political.
This was our choice as Alex's parents and as I have said publicly, I believe these medical choices should be left in the hands of parents and family members throughout the country and not in the hands of beauracrats, special interests and especially not in the hands of politicians like Curt Weldon.
For a political party that professes to want goverment out of people's lives they certainly do poke their noses in personal decisions a lot. For parents living through the nightmare of a seriously ill child, uprooting her from an established medical routine solely for political purposes would be unthinkable. The treatment for brain tumors is difficult enough without moving to a new hospital, new medical personnel, new places, new everything, unless it is medically necessary.
Weldon is a father himself and one of the criticisms being lodged against him is funneling work to his daughter's lobbying firm and favoring clients of that firm. What can he have been thinking to call into question the Sestak's decisions for their daughter? He can't apologize for this -- they are words that once spoken can't be retreived.
It is the lowest of the low.