The news first came out during the height of the coverage over Hurricane Gustav coming ashore on the Louisiana coast. Gustav had dwindled down to a Category 2 storm, far less intense than the Cat 5 some forecasters had predicted, but was still dangerous.

As Geraldo Rivera and his camera crew windsurfed their auto to the New Orleans levees and then walked to the top of them to show the effects of wind and storm surge, an item was inserted into the non-stop storm coverage - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.

An official statement from the Palin family, out on the campaign trail, said the teen intends to have the baby and will marry the father.

John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee, said he knew of the situation before selecting Palin to be his vice presidential running mate, and considers it to be a family matter that doesn't affect his choice nor Gov. Palin's capabilities. The pregnancy was on the news long before it was common knowledge at the GOP convention where formal activities had been suspended due to the hurricane.

I agree with McCain, but I can guarantee you that many Americans will not. Why?

Well, first off, the left has been looking for something with which to attack Palin, other than false claims about her stances on various issues, and her alleged

So, having a teenage daughter who is pregnant out of wedlock is the perfect issue for the left, especially if those pushing the issue are hypocrites. But let's not stop there, we can expect exactly the same from some holier-than-thou types on the right.

The question is, will we as Americans allow this to be become the defining issue in the campaign for the presidency? We shouldn't if we are half the country we claim to be, but will we?

The media is certain to drive it. There probably already are dozens of "I-teams" spreading out across the Alaskan wilderness to find the father, and get as detailed a story on the when and how of this pregnancy as is possible with an unlimited budget.

Let's face it, teenage girls have getting pregnant out of wedlock ever since there were teenage girls and wedlock. And you can bet your vote in November that for all of recorded history there have been elitist prigs who have looked down their noses at families who have had to deal with the issue, while keeping their own priggish skeletons safely locked in their basement closets.

That is a matter of human nature far more than political persuasion. But still, there will be unlimited, caustic, and horribly personal comments made and the attack dogs on the left have to be drooling over this.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama came out immediately saying the issue is off limits for the campaign. Chalk one up for him. I give Obama plenty of shots in this column so I have no qualms about giving him credit where it is due also.

But he has to go further. Obama has to make the point that attacks on the Palin family, and especially the young lady who, when all is said and done is the one bearing the heaviest burden, are off limits across the board. I know he can't stop the news and he can't stop the bloggers, but he sure can put the clamp down on a wide range of mainstream pundits, MoveOn.Org, and others who see this as an opportunity.

Personally, I think most people who either are solidly on, or leaning to the GOP side of the campaign, first responded with a sense of letdown, and "Oh, S**t," when they heard the news. We were all so happy, and so pumped over hearing that Sarah Palin was the VP nominee, and it certainly let some of the wind out of our sails.

But now that we have had a little time to digest this, what does it tell us? Well, first and foremost the Palin family practices what it preaches, as far as abortion is concerned, and they are loving people who have rallied around their daughter and sister.

It many ways it just shows they are more like typical Americans than the political elite that often dictates who will run and on what platforms. Maybe we will actually be talking about real life issues for the next two months.

Personally, this won't change my vote. But in the final analysis my thoughts are with Bristol Palin, the young lady who several months ago looked in her mirror and realized that there truly is a heavy price to pay for taking on adult actions before you really are an adult.

Her irresponsibility has put this issue on center stage, and while I don't think it should be condoned, or brushed off as inconsequential, I also don't believe it is right to punish her unborn child by making her an outcast and her life any more difficult than it already is certain to be. However many times this has happened in the past, this apparently is the first time it has happened to the child of a Republican woman who only three days ago was the first woman to be chosen as the Vice Presidential nominee.

Parenting is not to be taken lightly and Bristol Palin's life will never be the same, nor what it could have been.

Bristol Palin probably could have done something to hide the pregnancy from her family, and at 17 she probably could have secretly gotten an abortion. But like millions of other women, and no men that I am aware of, she came to the realization that she and she alone was responsible for her actions, and either decision she made would stay with her for the rest of her life.

I applaud her for choosing life, and I applaud the Palin family for standing by her. There will be vicious, heartless things said about this young lady and her family in the coming months. I hope she will be shielded from them, and I hope America is grown up enough to let this stay where it should - inside the home, to be dealt with there.