PALINJohnnyWagner:Getty  

I'm really grateful for Patrick and readers for pushing back on my speculations about Palin. The reader who suggests that the implausibility of her labor narrative is simply a function of her usual delusional embellishment is extremely persuasive. In fact, I'd say it's easily the likeliest explanation for what really happened. She made a lot of stuff up, as she always does, in order to make the story more gripping and to add to her aura as the tough-girl Alaskan. So of course the story doesn't make sense (and we may never know which bits are true and which just truthy). And the need to have the kid born in Alaska does make more sense when you consider Todd's extremist politics.

It could also easily be true that, as she said in Indiana, she simply had conflicted feelings about this pregnancy and considered an abortion. Grappling with that, she kept it all secret, got caught in lies about it, and her ambivalence about her pregnancy may even have led her unconsciously to act irrationally during labor. This is very human and very real and deserves our sympathy, not derision. But in national politics, you have to explain all this from the get-go, or just release the medical records on or off the record, and move on by defusing and humiliating bloggers like me. I understand that this is easier said than done, but when you accept a veep nomination, and ask people to contemplate putting you in the most powerful job in the world, you just have to suck it up and tell the truth. That's the awful price of public life. If she had told her story at the start, I think she would have earned much more support and admiration and become a real and much more persuasive advocate for the pro-life movement. But she didn't. And so the rubber-necking began.

Still, I am not convinced by Patrick's core argument - that a conspiracy, however unlikely, is near-impossible to sustain in this case. Here's why, as a reader explains:

The ability to keep a lid on a conspiracy is entirely proportional to the influence one has on those being kept quiet. Patrick should recall that every single person in on the proposed conspiracy is from Wasilla, Alaska.  I grew up in a small town that was a million billion times more sophisticated than Wasilla.  Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure that the most influential person in my hometown could have kept a lid on a similar story, no matter how many National Enquirer reporters were snooping around.

Palin is quite prepared to use her public office to pursue personal vendettas. She's easily the biggest celebrity Alaska has produced in ages and the most powerful person in the state. Many people in Wasilla are terrified of her; and she's also, as we know, compulsively secretive and protective of her family - even Sarahpalin_200908_477x600_7 as she pushes them into ludicrous crusades like Bristol's abstinence thing. Besides, the only conceivable, logical alternative to Palin being the natural mother of Trig is another close family member. Nothing else makes any sense -and anything more complicated would have been exposed by now. But close family members are also the most likely to keep secrets, especially since this whole thing transpired long before Palin was really in the global media klieglights. You think you can't get away with all sorts of (benign but odd) stuff when you're just a governor of what is, in effect, a population of a medium sized city spread out over half a continent? Her local hospital is also highly influenced by members of her church; and her personal doctor has gone into virtual hiding since the veep announcement. The more you know about Alaska, and I now know more than I would have ever imagined, the more successful a small-town, benign and actually admirable decision to bring a child into the world and care for him is not impossible. Highly unlikely, I know, but not impossible.

And look: I'm perfectly aware that continuing to air even the faint possibility of this makes a lot of people think I've gone round the bend. And maybe I have on this. Blogging obsessively can do that to a person. But if you haven't figured this out by now, I don't care much about what people think of me. I'd just like to know the truth, please. That's why I'm a blogger and a journalist. That's why I've published a lot of things in my time that others wouldn't. As long as I am not deceiving anyone or publishing untruths, and airing counter-arguments, I think I'm doing my job. Others have a different view of what legitimate discourse is, and I respect that. And I certainly think the brickbats are valid. But this is the way I am. Read someone else if you don't like it.

One more thing: whatever actually happened, I want to reiterate what I have said from the start. The decision to have Trig and to care for him and support him and defend the rights of children with special needs is a noble, admirable thing. Whatever happens to Palin in the future, she deserves enormous props for this, and is a real inspiration for the pro-life movement in this respect. We're all human and this decision was, in my view, the best one Sarah Palin has ever made, whatever the precise facts behind it. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Palin in this respect. It's a beautiful thing and Trig is a beautiful, precious, powerful human being.

And you wouldn't read any of this in the Washington Post, would you?

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.