We may as well keep a close eye on Palin, if only to keep our finger on the pulse of the right-wing’s beating heart. Or at least its heartthrob. And who knows? Maybe Palin has more tricks up her sleeve than we give her credit for. Perhaps she’s playing all her cards just right, and will surprise us all come the 2012 primaries (which I believe start in 2010…?). You just never know.I think that's exactly correct, except to say that while the 2012 primaries don't begin until 2012, the nomination contest is certainly going on right now (and has been going on for over a year). I don't think that Palin is particularly likely to win the GOP nomination, but she's a serious candidate of sorts for it right now, and the most visible of the serious candidates -- her ability to get things she says noticed is, no question about it, greater than that of Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty. And in my view, Sullivan is absolutely correct about the shockingly small amount of scrutiny that the Framer-bashing former half term governor has received. It really is weird, and unprecedented, that she never gave an open press conference in 2008, and has restricted herself to friendly media since then, and I think the political system is helped when things like that aren't allowed to be forgotten.
However...I have to admit that I don't understand the energy and space that Sullivan has devoted to her family, and especially to her youngest son. I can't claim that I've read every word of Sullivan on Trig, but I've read quite a bit, and frankly I have no idea why I should care what the truth is about the situation. I get that Sullivan thinks there's a high probability that what we've been told isn't the truth. But surely pols have the right to dress up their private business in the nicest possible clothing for public consumption, as long as it doesn't have any implications for how they would govern, or for anything else. And as far as I can see, it doesn't. As far as I can see, none of the rumors or possible explanations for behavior Sullivan has identified as odd would really tell me anything important about Palin.
I think I have to be a little less vague about this. Sullivan believes that Palin's birth story for her youngest son is implausible. I think he has a good case for that, for what it's worth. As I've read over the last two years, I've seen three possible explanations. The first is the wild one, that the baby isn't really hers; she's covering for someone else's inconvenient pregnancy and has adopted that child. The second is that she was an irresponsible mother, and took terrible risks given the dangerous nature of the pregnancy. The third is that she made the whole thing up, or most of it: she invented a heroic birth story, and then wound up being stuck with it when she suddenly had a massively larger audience.
So. Let's say one of these is true. Why should I care?
I'm tempted to say that Sullivan owes it to us to explain what he thinks is at stake in the story of Palin and Trig, but I think that's not quite right. I'll leave it at this: as a regular reader, I would like to know what he thinks is at stake here. And I might even believe that he owes it to Palin and her family to explain why the stakes are high enough to outweigh their privacy. At least for me, it has to be more than just her habit of straying from the truth; we have more than enough examples of that. Now, granted, Palin herself has led with her family often enough that I can't say I feel particularly sorry for her on this score, but -- and again, just in my opinion -- that's not a reason to invade her family's privacy. I do believe that such reasons can exist, but I haven't seen it in this particular case. And given the amount of attention Andrew Sullivan has devoted to the topic, I'd like to know why he thinks it's important.
But the general point -- is Palin someone who should be subject to critical scrutiny and analysis by the media? Obviously, yes. No question about it at all.