Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish blogger at Atlantic.com has been very skeptical about Sarah Palin’s birth story for months. He is in fact, the only “main stream media” person who has stayed on the story.
Mr. Sullivan is on vacation this week, and several colleagues are writing his column in his place. One is Patrick Appel, who yesterday made a post entitled “In Defense of Sarah Palin.”
He begins by quoting a reader, Will, who states: “After wading through the muck, I’m left wondering why he feels the need to badger the poor woman over the circumstances of her son’s birth.” As answer to this, I’d like to direct readers back to Mr. Sullivan’s single most thoughtful column on this matter.
Here’s my open response to Mr. Appel:
Dear Mr. Appel,
I have been as guilty as anyone of, at times, allowing the dialogue to deteriorate in to trivialities. If that’s “muck,” so be it. While I do feel that there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence, much of it based on photographic analysis, that Gov. Sarah Palin was never pregnant last spring, focusing on that too much does dilute what I feel is the most central, and single most damning piece of information of all: the choices made by Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign on August 31 – September 1, 2008.
On Friday, August 29th John McCain selected Sarah Palin for his running mate. The next day, August 30th, the first Internet rumors that Palin was Trig’s grandmother… not his mother … began to appear. The outcry only increased over the next day.
On August 31st, or possibly, early on September 1st, someone, I am assuming in the McCain campaign, made the decision that the rumors had to be addressed. No “bloggers” forced the McCain campaign to make this decision, and it’s very fair to point out that numerous other damaging pieces of information regarding Palin and her family that came to light during the campaign were ignored. But not this. They made the decision to address it.
Once the decision was made, by far the most logical option would have been to provide rock-solid medical evidence that Sarah Palin had given birth five months previously. We'll call this "Option A."
And, without a doubt, the easiest way to do that would have been to set up a news conference with Cathy Baldwin Johnson, the family practice physician that Palin has identified as the doctor at her birth, accompanied by Norman Stephens, CEO of Mat-Su Hospital. It would not have had to be elaborate or complicated, or in any way violating of Gov. Palin’s privacy.
Let me tell you what they should have said:
“My name is Norman Stephens I am CEO of Mat-Su Regional Hopsital in Palmer Alaska.” “My name is Catherine Baldwin Johnson. I am a family practice physician affiliated with Providence Matanuska Health Care in Wasilla Alaska. We have been asked to give a statement today regarding the circumstances surrounding the birth of Trig Paxson Van Palin last spring. We wish to read a short statement. We will not take any questions. Here is the statement: Trig Palin was born at this hospital at 6:32 in the morning of April 18th 2008. He weighed six pounds two ounces. Sarah Heath Palin, the governor of Alaska, is Trig Palin’s biological mother. I, Cathy Baldwin Johnson, personally attended Trig’s birth at this hospital. A full copy of the medical files as related to this pregnancy and birth will be made available to the press promptly . Thank you.”
That’s all. That’s it. That’s what I … and others like Andrew Sullivan… have been asking for for three plus months now. If that press conference had happened on September 1, I guarantee I’d be baking Christmas cookies for my family right now instead of writing to you.
But they didn’t do Option A. Not even close.
What they did was Option B. The McCain campaign, around mid-day on September 1, told the entire world that Sarah Palin’s seventeen year old daughter was pregnant. They "proved" that Sarah Palin gave birth to Trig Palin by telling us that Bristol Palin could not have. They offered no verification other than their word. They turned a minor that should be loved and protected through a very tough experience into the most famous and gawked at and discussed pregnant teen in the world. On the political front, they opened Todd and Sarah Palin up for what had to be unwanted scrutiny about their parenting, a hardly desirable result.
Sure, Bristol’s pregnancy (if genuine – and I believe it is) probably would have come out at some point during the campaign, but it could have been handled quietly, sensibly, thoughtfully with the announcement that it was a private family matter. Instead, the poor child's personal information is bellowed from the roof tops by her parents and the McCain campaign.
I’ve asked this question before, Mr. Appel, but I am asking you now. Why in the world would anyone choose “Option B” if “Option A” was available to them?
And the answer is simple: They wouldn’t. If Cathy Baldwin Johnson had been willing to give a statement that Sarah was Trig’s biological mother, they would never have announced that Bristol was pregnant. They wouldn't have needed to. But she wasn’t willing to make that statement. If the medical records were solid and routine and above board, they would have released them. But the records aren't what they should be.
They told the world Bristol was pregnant because it was all they had.
All the blurry photos and mysterious baby bumps and whispered rumors and wild rides and reckless choices fade into nothing compared to this. I’m repeating it: Cathy Baldwin Johnson has never been willing to say (and is still not willing to say) that Trig Palin was born on April 18th at Mat-Su Hospital, that Sarah Palin is his biological mother and that she, Cathy Baldwin Johnson, delivered him.
Why, Mr. Appel, do you think that is? Is she lazy? Forgetful? Busy? Dead?
Or has Dr. Baldwin-Johnson refused to make the statement because it’s not true?
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