The first person to point out in the media that Palin's - and her family's - narrative was worthy of further scrutiny was Alaska commentator Shannyn Moore. Shannyn made her initial observations on this within days of the announced birth of what most consider to be Palin's youngest child, Trig Palin, in early 2008.
Sullivan, in the Monday post called Why Does Trig Matter, and in a series of updates Tuesday at his blog at The Atlantic, The Daily Dish, responds to a question from a reader, Jonathan Bernstein. In the updates to further questions, Sullivan is more transparent than almost any other nationally prominent blogger who claims to be a conservative.
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?
Sullivan's response is worth reading in its entirety, but the gist is here:
If any of the three scenarios Jonathan has pointed out is true, then Sarah Palin has no business running for president and should never have been picked for vice-president. Why? Because if her giving birth to a Down Syndrome child is a complete hoax, then she's simply psychotic to double down on such a crazy invention, and we should try and avoid psychotics as political leaders (yes, it's hard given the normal inclinations of a political class, but we can try, no?). If the scenario is merely a function of deep irresponsibility, an unconscious desire to miscarry her child by extreme recklessness, then the same applies. After eight years of Bush, it seems that willful recklessness that places the vulnerable and powerless in great danger is not a good idea. The last is easily the least worrying - pure fabulism, exaggeration, and a completely random relationship to reality. Yes, we're all human. But again, sane people who tell fibs once dial them back subsequently - they don't repeat them, embellish them even more, and concoct - in Going Rogue - a simply baroque, incoherent and, yes, nutty version of a labor story that defies all we know about human biology, space and time.
But in many ways, my real frustration here is not with Palin, who has behaved in ways that are rational for a gambler of such proportions. My frustration is with the media who have never questioned, let alone seriously investigated, the story, and who have actually gone further and vouched for its truthfulness and accuracy without any independent confirmation.
I've written about this. Other Alaska bloggers and Outside bloggers have too. My wife and I subscribe to the scenario that wittingly or not, Palin, through hiding her pregnancy into its seventh month, having had previously undisclosed miscarriages, was trying to secretly kill a fetus she knew to have a major disability - a "God-given abortion," that wouldn't be questioned (should the information leak out) by her base in the evangelical and fundamentalist communities.
Palin has claimed more than once to have publicly produced Trig's birth certificate, but that is just one of her many lies. She hasn't. And won't.
In any case, Sullivan is right to observe that no matter which scenario is true, Palin's a nutcase in this regard, and the national media has utterly failed to cover the story in a professional way. Were Palin a black or Hispanic woman on public assistance, and had taken the "wild rides" from Houston to Wasilla at public expense, after her water had broken, and the information had become public the way it has in Palin's case, the woman could easily have been indicted by some GOP prosecutor with political aspirations.
II. Shannyn Moore was the first commentator to realize Palin's story couldn't hold the water the latter claimed to have broken. Over the past 28 months since Trig's birth, Moore has steered away from scenarios wilder than her very plausible "wild ride" one.
I have written hundreds of posts and articles about Sarah Palin. I've gotten into heat for asking whether she deserved the term "saint" more than "slut." Guess which term won the poll?
My property has been vandalized by her Palinbots. Progressive Alaska, though, has never been a predominently Palin site, nor have I sought that for PA. A number of other sites in Alaska, the lower 48 and abroad have done that. They are fun to read and often have important information about the sleazy ways Palin's meme and methods show the hypocrisy of American politics and popular culture.
However, I have to hand it to Shannyn for having handled this tricky story, from its beginnings to the present, with class, curiosity and from the perspective of a caring mom.
Here's Shannyn, back in February, discussing the "Wild Ride":