The surprise announcement that Bristol Palin, 19, and Levi Johnston, 20, are engaged and will be getting married soon graces the cover of the latest issue of US Weekly magazine. They share an 18-month-old son named Tripp, and were, until recently, in the middle of a custody battle.
Young couples have babies, get engaged, break up and reunite every day. Why is this announcement so unique?
Levi Johnston was paraded across platforms across the country on the campaign trail in 2008 as the fiance of then vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s oldest daughter, who was then expecting a baby with Johnston.
After the election, Palin and Johnston broke up while the whole world watched. Levi Johnston exposed Bristol’s family in a very public fashion, and went on to capitalize on his 15 minutes of fame through any means available, including tell-all interviews with national news outlets and posing nude in Playgirl magazine. He was particularly derogatory about his would-have-been mother-in-law and her fitness to hold public office. Sarah Palin responded publicly about the “lies” Johnston was telling about her family. She called Johnston “Ricky Hollywood,” and spoke of his aspiring “porn” career.
Bristol Palin became, curiously, the face of abstinence, publicly speaking to groups about the virtues of the practice.
Bristol said that, about three months ago, she and Johnston agreed to meet to discuss their custody dispute and, afterward, Johnson texted that he missed her, loved her, and wanted to be together again.
The couple claims to have been secretly engaged for two weeks, without the knowledge or approval of their parents. They gave exclusive rights to their story to US Weekly magazine, and were paid for the US Weekly photo shoot, but the magazine won’t disclose whether they were paid for the story.
Sarah (and perhaps Todd) Palin released a statement which said, in part, that Bristol is 19, a young adult, and has a belief in redemption and forgiveness.
The young couple plans to undergo counseling to work through the issues they are facing.
Many questions remain. Why are they planning to get married in such a big hurry? Bristol states that she is not pregnant, and that the couple is, in fact, practicing abstinence and living separately. The elder Palins’ statement doesn’t necessarily signal approval of the upcoming union. And, while many new husbands have a hard time gaining their in-laws’ approval, Levi Johnston faces an uphill battle with the Palins.
The NBC Today Show