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Alex Massie is disappointed by my relentless vetting of Palin, specifically the bizarre facts in the public record about her fifth pregnancy. For my part, I stand by my skepticism of everything Sarah Palin says. To my mind, her constant public lies about almost anything, large and small, and the proximity of this strange, unvetted blank slate of a candidate to the Oval Office render all usual assumptions of good faith on the part of a candidate moot. The refusal of the McCain campaign to allow her to hold a press conference - unprecedented in modern American history - reinforces this skepticism. It is simply incredible that a vice-presidential candidate who is the governor of a state cannot hold an open press conference to clear the air on any number of issues of fact that are out there. Worse than incredible: dangerous. When we have six weeks to go and we still know very little about someone who could technically be president next January, I don't think we should lean on the side of complacency and "deference".

So how do we respond to Palin's series of outright lies and total refusal to face the press outside of two, negotiated interviews? Alex's assumption - and I totally understand it - is that we have an unqualified but credible, reasonable politician. If that is your assumption, my obsession with fact-checking everything she says, even about her own pregnancy, must indeed seem weird and bizarre.

But it is not my working assumption. This is not an attitude I started with. In fact, I'm on record saying within the first few hours of her selection that, even though I thought the selection was unserious with respect to foreign policy, I liked her and even thought this former pot-smoking friend of the gays (got that wrong) was a great thing. Here's what I blogged at 12.09 pm on August 29:

The more I read the more I expect to like her a lot.

Here is what I wrote an hour and a half later:

It makes me like [McCain's] empathy for gutsy young women, even former beauty queens (is there footage of her contest out there?). But it also makes me less comfortable with the idea of him as commander in chief.

Again, minutes later, offering my first take:

She named two daughters after television witches, and smoked pot when it was legal in Alaska, and inhaled. She's also very gay-friendly. It makes me like her. I'm not so sure how the most devout in the base will respond. Her Down Syndrome baby will help, I'm sure - and her decision to bring him into the world is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I thought she was unqualified and unserious as a veep candidate in wartime but my first impression was to like her personally. It never occurred to me that she was a pathological liar. But blogging in real time is about honestly assimilating new data and new facts. And I have learned a great deal in a couple of weeks. And my working assumption now is that she is a pathological liar - even about things that are objectively checkable.

A pathological liar simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth about herself, even on a subject as routine as a pregnancy and infant son. I can't believe I'm asking these questions either. But in the absence of any answers, what am I supposed to do?

I know this puts me out of the mainstream of acceptable Washington opinion. But let me just remind Alex that doubting the existence of Saddam's WMDs put some people out of the mainstream of acceptable Washington opinion. Would the world be a better place if those people had refused to be silenced or intimidated? Would America be a better place if reporters and bloggers resistant to the universal consensus brought all their questions to the table and refused to shut up and kow-tow to the forces of Rove and his acolyte, Schmidt?

There is far too much at stake to be intimidated into silence or to pretend I can accept this absurd pick as anything other than a farce masking too many lies to count. All I am doing is exposing as many facts and arguments about this Manchurian candidate that I can find. I am committed to putting the truth out there, especially when it debunks my assumptions and have done so promptly on the sole occasion when some clear evidence rebutted a question I was raising. I am airing all sides of the issues. But I will not relent until we have a better idea of who this person is. And I offer no apologies or regrets for persistence.

If you really think you now know all you need to know about her, read someone else.

(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty.)

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