by Meredith O’Brien
I’m not, by nature, a hater. My writing doesn’t usually include personal attacks. Unlike some poison pen scribes who hold nothing back while they gleefully and snarkily lambaste others, I usually try to maintain an even keel, sometimes using humor or sarcasm to get my point across. So it’s atypical for me to feel compelled to give two narcissistic, clueless fathers of young children a verbal vivisection, to hurl names at them and to beseech them to just shut their traps.
I’m talking to you Jon Gosselin and Levi Johnston.
We all have problems. We all have arguments and disagreements with our significant others, our parents, our in-laws, if we’re married. Life isn’t always fair and doesn’t always go smoothly. People with whom we’re related – by marriage or blood -- are inevitably going to disappoint us at one time or another. But the two of you are fathers of small children. Those kids are going to grow up and eventually read all the smack you’ve been dishing about their mothers and/or their families and realize that you tried to enhance your own public relations standing by airing their family’s dirty laundry in public. While Jon is acting as though he’s on spring break , cavorting with bikinied, barely legal gals at a Las Vegas pool party, Levi is holding up a photographic likeness of his son’s grandmother  in front of his face -- with Sarah Palin’s eyes cut out -- in photos which accompany his glossy tell-all tale  in the pages of the October issue of Vanity Fair.
First I’ll address Jon, who we all know has eight young children and has, for the past several years, co-starred in the reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8  with his soon-to-be ex-wife Kate. After the couple publicly announced their split this spring, the two, at first, said they were going to deal with one another amicably, for the sake of their children, and take turns staying in their Pennsylvania home with the kids. At that point, I had a great deal of sympathy for the couple, whose marital woes were being exploited by TLC for the sake of ratings, at the expense of the Gosselin family. I even wrote a sympathetic column  about them.
Then those photos began cropping up. Of Jon . With a series of young women, including the 22-year-old daughter of the plastic surgeon who did Kate’s tummy tuck for free on their TV show. Jon’s been out partying, at all hours of the night, according to media reports. I read that he’d gotten himself a Manhattan bachelor pad  while his children still live in Pennsylvania, not exactly a quick scoot down the road which would make it easy to attend parent-teacher conferences or kids’ soccer games. I’ve read news stories about how Jon has been cutting deals  to make celebrity appearances at parties and casinos for money including a soiree he recently hosted at a Las Vegas hotel pool .
And while his wife Kate has done nationally televised interviews  and has been relatively restrained with her criticism of her children’s father (except for complaining about Jon’s choice of babysitters ), Jon says it’s time to tell HIS story. A week after Jon appeared in public – and on camera, with his kids -- in a T-shirt which said, “Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies ” on the front, he’s gone to ABC’s news magazine Primetime  saying Kate verbally and emotionally abused him during their 10-year marriage and then, according to the ABC previews, may dish dirt about whether Kate has been canoodling with the family’s body guard. Way to be classy Jon Gosselin! Taking the high road about your children’s mother!
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Levi Johnston -- whose name you know only because he was once the fiancé of Sarah Palin’s eldest daughter Bristol and fathered a child with Bristol when the girl was 17 – is using his son’s grandparents as a jumping off point, a diving board if you will, to help catapult him into the epicenter of pop culture. And he’s hoping to cash in. (He’s currently mulling whether he should strip down for Playgirl.) After doing an initial round of TV interviews, including where he kissed-and-told about his sex life with his longtime, now ex-girlfriend to Tyra Banks , Levi’s told all to Vanity Fair and humiliated his kid’s family.
While acknowledging that “Sarah has always treated me very well, sometimes saying, ‘I love you son,’ to me,” Levi unloaded on America’s most famous hockey mom, the former governor of Alaska. After saying that he never saw Sarah Palin fish or hunt, that she rarely attended her eldest son’s hockey games, doesn’t cook and basically ignores her children unless news cameras are around, Levi went a step further by saying that Sarah and Todd Palin scream at each other all the time and don’t sleep in the same bedroom. “I don’t know how she got pregnant,” Levi said of Sarah Palin’s pregnancy last year with her son Trig. Levi continued painting his unflattering portrait of his son’s family by saying that Todd Palin only cares about snow machine racing, drinking beer and hanging out in the garage. “There was a lot of talk of divorce in that house,” Levi said.
There are small children, including Levi’s own son Tripp, living with Sarah and Todd Palin right now. And Levi thinks it’s a good idea to literally open the doors to the Palins’ bedrooms and about his sex life with his baby’s mother for the whole world to see? This will certainly help him build a bond with his son and help to raise him cooperatively with Bristol, right?
While watching the behavior of Jon Gosselin and Levi Johnston, I keep wondering whatever happened to the good, old fashioned gentleman, the one who didn’t kiss and tell, the one who protects his family from harm, emotional or otherwise. It should be mentioned that the targets of the criticism – Kate Gosselin, Sarah and Todd Palin, even Bristol – aren’t completely innocent and blameless. They helped create the mess they’re all in. And I’m sure that living with the demanding Kate, under the glare of the intrusive TLC cameras with which Jon may or may not have been on board with having there, was difficult. But why hurt the eight Gosselin children by proxy, by insulting their mother, by appearing in public with a string of twentysomethings and move to New York City? Likewise, I’m sure it was no picnic for Levi to be ordered around by Sarah Palin, never mind being dragged to a national political convention, told what to wear and how to behave. No one likes feeling used or taken for granted, but Levi, dude, what good does it do for your son Tripp to trash the Palin family? Is that good parenting? Is that looking out for your kid’s best interest?
Enough with the selfish, albeit likely satisfying, take-downs of the women in your lives with whom you’ve had some major beefs. My guess is that if you both stop acting out in very public ways like immature little boys and simply be mum about your private lives, your world, as well as the world in which your children live, will all be a whole lot more peaceful. Your public images, about which you both seem to care so much, could benefit from your restraint. Please guys, man up and shut up.