Friday, April 15, 2011

Not This Again

Ugh. I can't believe this is back in the news. Andrew Sullivan asks:
[i]s it legit, given the ample use of Trig by Palin as a political prop and campaign mascot, to ask her for simple proof, like medical records, as the editor of the ADN did, and as I asked from the get-go?
My answer to this is simple: No. It is not legit. Not for political reporters, at any rate.

Sarah Palin is an important national political figure, and I do believe that reporters should press her, hard, on quite a few things, as they should with all important national political figures.

But leave the kids alone. I don't care if Palin "invited" extra scrutiny because she used her kid "as a political prop and campaign mascot" -- that's between her and her family. It doesn't make that kid or any of her kids fair game.

I've said this before: imagine the worst rumor you've heard about this story is true. Now, honestly: does that really change your view of Sarah Palin's worthiness to serve in high office? Does it change your view of how seriously we should take her policy pronouncements?

If she's guilty of all sorts of lies and malfeasance, reporters should make the case without touching this one. If it's her only serious indiscretion, fib, or whatever, then it seems to me that it has little or no bearing on anything. 


  1. isn't the entire point that the lies and malfeasance that she faked a pregnancy to cover up for slutty daughter? How do you leave the slutty daughter out of it?

    What is good for the goose...

  2. If it's true it would be a violation of the law for her to have claimed the child was hers when in fact it was not.

  3. His reasoning is identical to birther reasoning. Hell, his WORDING is even practically the same.

  4. @charlie---Two points:

    1 - I think you leave the "slutty daughter" out of it because children are not fair game. Among Obama's many classy moments during the campaign, perhaps the finest was when he gently but firmly reminded the media that his mother was a teenage mother and he didn't want to hear any more about the Palin children.

    2 - You don't call 17 year old girls "slutty", if only so you don't end up with lots of people wondering just how sexist you are.

  5. JB--

    I agree with you 100%. Andrew's unfortunate crusade has diminished his credibility, which is sad because he's still one of the best bloggers out there.

    I think your last point is the salient one. Assume the rumor is true although it's not. That would prove what, exactly? We already know Palin is a pathological liar. In fact, lying to protect a teenage daughter would probably be the noblest falsehood of her life.

  6. Charlie, What you did is called slut-shaming. It means that bad things that happen to women who have bad reputations are okay. It's the same logic that leads to 'honor killings' in some countries; and it's a backward and mysogynist thought habit.

    And to the rest; I, too don't particularly like Andrew's fixation. But I am not under the impression he think's Trig isn't Palin's son; the likelyhood of her giving birth to a son with Down Syndrome is high, her daughter's, low. Rather, it's the way she endangered his life leading up to his birth that, if her reports of his birth are true. It displays a horrid lack of sound judgement; sound maternal judgement, the thing she uses to prop her policy upon.

    But as Jonathan says, do we need other proof that she lacks good judgement? I don't think so.

  7. When you trot out your daughter and peddle her as an object lesson about pre-marital sex that your Christian parenting didn't prevent, when you take a stand on Conservative Christian values, when you bear false witness with intent to deceive, when you parade your ostensible handicapped offspring as a campaign and money prop... I think its indeed fair game.

    She's built her reputation on a house of cards, and exploited the beliefs of others for monetary gain. Its called "fraud", and should be investigated just like any other criminal.

  8. I will say this: I do happen to believe that due to Bristol Palin's actions she constitutes a public figure and as such we shouldn't feel terrible about scrutinizing her and her positions. I believe this because of her repeated appearances in order to raise awareness about abstinence, teen pregnancy, and the secret life of American Teenagers. Having said all of that, I believe that these accusations with regards to Trig are beyond the pail and rather insulting.

  9. > It is not legit. Not for political reporters, at any rate.

    What is the qualitative difference between reporting on this alleged lie and, say, on Gov Sanford's hike on the Appalachian Trail?

    One difference is, of course, malfeasance in office -- nobody could find the SC Governor for a stretch of time. But otherwise it was a lie by an elected official to his constituency regarding a salacious topic.

    Serious question -- why was that worthy of being reported and not Palin's alleged lie about Trig? Purely the malfeasance in office item?

    From my point of view, this specific alleged lie about something so basic to the person's public persona, so long term, so disdainful of the voting public is, if true, a *huge* thing that bars the individidual's future from public discourse and puts a questionmark to the state of their sanity.

    It's a *Don Draper* sized lie.

  10. Dr. BRS,

    Yes, I do think that Bristol has opened herself up to "public figure" scrutiny now -- but not two years ago.

    As to Palin's story vs. Sanford's affair: I'm actually not very enthusiastic about the press pushing on stuff like that, unless there's a clear public policy connection. But again, I strongly disagree that her choice of how to use her family in the campaign waives the norm of leaving the kids alone.

  11. As a commenter pointed out at Slate, the official story of Trig's birth lies beyond any comparable story by a factor of at least 100. While in labor, and prior to any sort of medical evaluation (e.g. how dilated she was, etc), Palin would have us believe that she arbitrarily traveled 4,000 miles further than the nearest world-class facility. If we could somehow overcome HIPAA, we are all pretty confident that we could find not a single case of another Down's mother in labor traveling even 40 miles past the nearest world-class facility.

    So the suggestion that this fantastic tale is just an example of normal human variation is transparently absurd. The Incredible Journey leading to Trig's birth must be at least a dozen standard deviations beyond the relevant mean behavior under such circumstances.

    What's more, Trig's status as Palin's kid is an undeniably important aspect of identity politics, Palin-style. There's no doubt that Trig's disability is an asset for Palin to overcome the general misogyny of her critical evangelical base. As her kid, he is political gold.

    In summary, then, if we cannot ask about the provenance of a child when the story is a) way, way, way weirder than anything else we've ever heard, and b) pivotal to the parent's political portfolio, where then should the line be drawn?

    I fully expect that sooner or later, Palin will claim that the Incredible Journey of Trig's birth is an indication of supernatural powers, that if he's not quite a Savior, he's some sort of Golden Child, and magically able to add 150 basis points to GDP growth, thus largely solving our debt problem.

    Her base will eat that shit up, cause that's what they do, and if the demographic circumstances are right, it will pave Palin's way to the White House. Me and Andrew Sullivan will be totally outraged by the Golden Child crap.

    But Jonathan Bernstein will scold us, after all this Golden Child thing is children stuff, its none of our business (even if it is Palin's critical ticket to the White House).

  12. This a story. Not a conspiracy theory. The Birther issue is a conspiracy theory and one that's been disproven.

    A reporters job is to keep in check the various avenues for corruption. If a politician (of any kind) is lying, if a hedge fund manager is hiding her or his numbers, if a prison guard is exploiting prisoners... it is the reporter's job to unearth it.

    Why are reporters so afraid to ask about this kid, but the birther bullshit is all over the MSM? Is it because it's okay to call a black American a non-citizen? Can't be bothered to ask the nice white lady trying to cover up her family's structure. To me, Sarah Palin should be proud of her family however it's composed, but regardless this is an issue worth looking into because it involves a public figure who (at least in my mind) is clearly making up a story.

    I have my problems with Andrew Sullivan, but asking reporters to simply ask questions... that's not one of them.

  13. The reason journalists like Bernstein are trying desperately to come up with excuses not to cover the Palin/Trig story is very simple; they don't want to cover it out of fear of right wing backlash against them personally. They dare not risk their careers or reputations so they just wish the story away. Its the same fear that led so few of them to ask any tough questions in the run up to the war in Iraq. Its simple self preservation. Its the same brand of cowardice that plagues so many on the left, whether in the media or in Congress. (I say this as an unapologetic progressive).

  14. It's important if it's true because she lied and used the child as a prop to sure up her pro-life credibility. She actually posed for a magazine with her daughter under the title "We Chose Life". I don't understand how people say it doesn't matter. This woman is toying with the idea of running for President. If it's not true, why doesn't she prove it? Why doesn't she give her doctor permission to confirm the birth? Does she want the controversy (any press is good press) or does she have something to hide? She loves to prove the left wrong on everything except this issue.

    If she had kept the baby out of the limelight, I would say it mattered less, but she has used the child politically. She has made money off of sharing the ever-changing story of his birth. Her daughter has made money off of her pregnancy. Should she be a poster child for abstinence if she's had two babies?

    I challenge people to really read the evidence that the professor presents before shutting it down and calling it ridiculous.

    Also, why doesn't she clear this all up so people will stop talking about her daughter? If Bristol didn't have the baby, why not prove it and get her name out of the tabloids? She threw her under the bus when the rumor first came out and she's doing it again. If there were wild rumors out there about my daughter and I could easily prove them wrong with a birth certificate or by giving the doctor or hospital the permission to say they were present at the birth I'd do it in a heartbeat. Instead Palin leaves her daughter and her reputation out there flying in the breeze. Why? I also find it hard to believe that she wouldn't love to prove all the Trig truthers wrong. Is she really overlooking the chance to give liberals haters the finger? Why?

  15. "If it's her only serious indiscretion, fib, or whatever, then it seems to me that it has little or no bearing on anything. "
    This last sentence seems to contradict your entire argument, or at the very least it begs the question. Would you actually argue that this matter, if true,is Palin's "only serious indiscretion, fib or whatever"?

  16. "If it's her only serious indiscretion, fib, or whatever, then it seems to me that it has little or no bearing on anything." "leave the kids alone"
    Your post shows a stunning ignorance of the issue at hand, which has absolutely nothing to do with "the kids." Nothing! It is about a PREGNANCY and the possibility of an elected official perpetrating an ongoing hoax on the people she is sworn to represent. It is about the integrity, stability, and ethical fitness of an elected official who may be responsible for making decisions on behalf of American citizens. Everything else is in red-herring land.

  17. I apologize on behalf of all the Anonymous posters posting mentally deranged garbage here. Please don't hold this against anonymous posters in the future.

  18. I'd like to make a couple of comments:

    1) This story is not about Trig or Bristol, it is solely about Mrs. Palin. She is the one who may have perpetrated a hoax and her children are unfortunate collateral damage. That hasn't seemed to stop her thus far.

    2) It doesn't really matter who the bio mom is. Palin could have picked him up by the side of the road. It's the fact that she FAKED a pregnancy to get sympathy and CRED with her base that is the problem. (If the baby were Bristol's and she just adopted him, wouldn't that have been good enough? No, it had to come from her body).

    3) Once she announced that she was pregnant, she started wearing scarves and leaving her jacket on inside. Now that everyone knows she is supposedly pregnant, she no longer needs to HIDE the fact. But she still tries to. Why? Because she's trying to hide that she's NOT pregnant.

    4) It's hard to point to one specific piece of evidence to prove the story true. No particular photo or statement fills in the blanks. It's the preponderance of evidence that makes the hoax plausible.

    This is not an easy story to cover because it's so complex to put together cogently. It is, however, easy to prove wrong. D-N-A

  19. I'm not a political scientist, obviously, but I trust that the following falls well within the political science canon: If one is presented with a good opportunity at the White House, and one nevertheless delivers a critically ill, handicapped baby in the kitchen cargo hold of a 747, over the uninhabited mountains of British Columbia, one's good opportunity at the White House will vanish instantly.

    I additionally trust that the above is so obvious within the political science canon that it automatically leads to a corollary: if there is ever even a remote possibility of the above occurring, do not go about your business until you confirm that it absolutely, positively will not.

    In the case of Palin's Incredible Journey, we have a politician who allegedly violated the above sacred principles of political science, and on this blog we have a professional political scientist saying, yeah, maybe that happened, anyway its none of our business, and a kid is involved, so leave it alone.

    It's a bit like going to see "Good Will Hunting" with your friend, an expert in Mathematics, only in this case Matt Damon finishes one of his gobbledygook calculus exercises with a large font declaration: "2+2=5!" And you look over at your math expert friend incredulously, and he sighs and shrugs his shoulders and says, yeah, maybe 2+2=5, who knows, and anyway, we shouldn't question because the Damon character is a minor.

  20. "If it's her only serious indiscretion, fib, or whatever, then it seems to me that it has little or no bearing on anything".

    And we are supposed to take this guy's political opinions as somehow meaningful ?

    He thinks torture is just dandy as long as the polling looks good on it and does not care if a major figure creates vast, unreal lies, so long as those lies are not about something in the news cycle.......simply amazing.....

  21. Wow, great posts Truth(er) defenders.

    No, you all (and I) are not crazy wackos without lives. Having open eyes is what sets us apart.

    The bottom line is all the circumstantial evidence aligns with the fake pregnancy conclusion, not with a real pregnancy. All the direct evidence (Palin's schedule and travel records, photos & such) aligns with a fake pregnancy at least as well as a real one. For example, when did she have pre-natal visits and with which doctor?

    There's nothing in Palin's calendar and emails -- which has been posted on-line -- and Palin was living in Juneau or travelling all over while supposedly carrying Trig in a ultra-high-risk pregnancy. But her doctor is in Wasilla and isn't even an OB/Gyn? Pahlease. We're not idiots. This pregnancy would leave a paper trail a mile long. I just want to see a couple of pieces of that paper trail. That will satisfy me.

    CSH -- I love it!! "A dozen standard deviations beyond the mean." Finally, another person who see this as a math problem where the figures do not compute.

    For those in the community and know this history, this post was written by:



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