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As Dish readers know, there are only three public photographs that I could find of Sarah Palin pregnant with Trig (the McCain campaign insisted there were "loads" and then was forced to retract). But we now have another. The date of this photograph, which turned up on a Flickr account, has been clearly established as March 26, 2008:

Here's a link from the Alaska state website discussing the event. Here's a news video.

That's barely three weeks before she gave birth to Trig, a full-term, 6 pound baby. It's also around a week before video footage of Palin, captured here. Since Palin refused throughout the campaign to provide any medical records (although, in classic Palin style, says she has), we only have three photographs of her pregnant and one doctor's letter, released hours before the polls opened November 3. If you're interested in why any sane person would ever doubt a mother's announcement of her own pregnancy, read this.

Maybe this photo has been photo-shopped. Maybe Palin had an anomalous pregnancy that showed far, far less than her previous ones, one that went from close to nothing to a serious bump in two weeks. Maybe the angle in the photo is misleading, and leaning toward us her pregnancy is concealed. Maybe her fifth labor really did take 26 hours combined via a speaking engagement (as amniotic fluid was leaking) and an 11 hour airplane flight (when a birth could have begun at any moment at extreme risk to the child), and maybe the bizarre and, to my mind, incredible stories she has told about the pregnancy and labor are true (there is still a chance they are). But if all these things are true, the Palin camp has had months to provide what would be instantly available records to dismiss all and every "insane" blog speculation about this. And yet none came - on or off the record.

I begged the McCain campaign by private email and in a private meeting to give me something - anything - to kill the story off. I promised to run any evidence that would blow this out of the water. That offer still stands. Please make me look like an idiot for asking these questions. But they didn't offer a thing, asserting that even asking the question was an outrageous reputation-destroying offense. Maybe Michelle Malkin is right that this is truther, tin-foil hat territory. But Malkin's only substantive point rebutting the photographic evidence is:

We’re all obstetricians now!

Actually, the Dish went out and interviewed eight of the leading obstetricians in the country and laid out all the facts of the case and asked the experts for their take. While none would say that this pregnancy could not have happened, and none would comment on a case they hadn't examined personally, all of them said it was one of the strangest and unlikeliest series of events they had ever heard of and found Palin's decision to forgo medical help for more than a day after her water broke and risk the life of her unborn child on a long airplane trip to be reckless beyond measure.

Malkin also equates the story with the Obama birth certificate affair. But we have documentary evidence of the certificate, and Palin has produced no hard evidence at all for her pregnancy. All that's needed is some medical records of her pregnancy which, as a Down Syndrome pregnancy, would have a large pile of medical documentation easily released. There is no formal record of Trig's birth at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, although there is a record of two other babies born on the same day.

Maybe I am crazy to even wonder. Or maybe we have witnessed one of the biggest frauds in American political history and the biggest failures among the American media in a very, very long time.

All I know is: the media refuses to ask and doesn't want to know and failed to demand medical records. All I know is that some journalists - like the Washington Post's Howie Kurtz - even tried to discredit the integrity of bloggers for asking. And yet in the campaign, the pregnancy and baby were offered at every moment as a reason to vote for Palin. If the Bridge To Nowhere is worth checking out, why aren't the pregnancy's bizarre details? Without the Down Syndrome pregnancy, Palin would not have had the rock-star appeal to the pro-life base that contributed to her selection. She made it a political issue by holding up the baby at the convention.

I do not know the truth and have never claimed that Palin is lying. I have always stated that bringing a baby with Down Syndrome into the world is a noble and beautiful thing. I have simply asked, given the implausible, if possible, circumstances, that a person running for vice-president provide some basic evidence for a very strange and unclear story. For a photograph of Palin pregnant with one of her previous children, see below. Compare and contrast. Remember that, as a general rule, pregnant mothers show more with each successive pregnancy. Remember also, as a general rule, that successive labors come more quickly. I think it's time Palin's doctor, Catherine Baldwin-Johnson talked to the press, don't you think? And that the McCain campaign tell us exactly what they knew and asked all along.

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