The Gaffes Of Chuck Heath

Sam Tanenhaus found a classic in his review of Going Rogue, as noted by Isaac Chotiner, about Sarah Palin's brief stay in Hawaii:

“Hawaii was a little too perfect,” Palin writes. “Perpetual sunshine isn’t necessarily conducive to serious academics for eighteen-year-old Alaska girls.” Perhaps not. But Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, gave a different account to [Scott] Conroy and [Shushannah] Walshe [authors of 'Sarah From Alaska']. According to him, the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uncomfortable: “They were a minority type thing and it wasn’t glamorous, so she came home.”

Notice Palin's love of glamor. This has always been a constant. But she deserves a break on this. Giving Palin a hard time for this kind of thing when she was 18 is not worth a hill of beans. But Chuck Heath also blurted something else out to a reporter back when the Palins were giving their first version of the birth of Trig that may not be a hill of beans. It's a tiny, critical detail, but it took his daughter quite by surprise:

Reporter: So did your water break?

Palin: Well, if you must know more of those type of details, but, um…

Reporter: Well, your dad said that and I saw him say it so that’s why I asked.

Palin: Well that was again if, if I must get personal, technical about this at the same time, um, it was one, it was a sign that I knew, um, could lead to uh, labor being uh kind of kicked in there was any kind of, um, amniotic leaking, amniotic fluid leaking, so when, when that happened we decided OK let’s call her.

When that happened we decided OK let's call her.

So Palin said the week after the birth that her water breaking had precipitated the call to her doctor at 4am Dallas time. Now you would imagine that your water-breaking or amniotic fluid leaking in the eighth month of a pregnancy. Here is her description of that same vivid moment of the water breaking followed by the phone call in Dallas in Going Rogue:

My pregnancy was going fine, and with five weeks to go, I felt great. But at 4 a.m., a strange sensation low in my belly woke me and I sat up straight in bed.

It can't be, I thought. It's way too early.

Moments later, I shook Todd awake. "Something's going on."

He sat up in bed, instantly alert. ''I'm calling CBJ [family doctor Catherine Baldwin-Johnson]."

"No, don't do that. It's one a.m. in Alaska."

I didn't want to call anyone yet. I just wanted to take stock and see whether this baby was really coming. I also wanted time to pray and asked God silently but fervently to let everything be okay. Desperation for this baby overwhelmed me.

Please don't let anything happen to this baby.

It occurred to me, once and for all. I'm so in love with this child, please God, protect him! After all my doubts and fears, I had fallen in love with this precious child. The worst thing in the world would  be that I would lose him. God knew what He was doing.

Over my protests, Todd called CBJ. I told her that I felt fine and absolutely did not want to cancel my speech and disappoint the folks at the conference, including my cohost, Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Leave aside the obvious common sense questions: she's had two miscarriages and four previous kids and her current baby has Down Syndrome and she's eight months' pregnant and she's thousands of miles from home and her first thought upon feeling a "strange sensation" that made her sit straight up in bed at 4 am was: "It can't be, I thought. It's way too early." Oookaaay. Her second thought is that it would be inappropriate to call her personal physician at 1 am. Oookaay. She is telling us that her overwhelming feeling at this point was "Please don't let anything happen to this baby," and she is also telling us that she "felt fine and absolutely did not want to cancel my speech and disappoint the folks at the conference, including my cohost, Texas Governor Rick Perry." Name-check.

It doesn't make any sense.

I know that virtually nothing in this book makes any actual sense but this is the kind of experience you always remember, the kind of experience that would be seared into your consciousness, the kind of experience that you would always retain. How many times has your own mother told the story of your birth? How many times has a critical detail of it changed?

No: the question here is simply: why would she tell her own father and the Anchorage Daily News that the water-breaking was the key moment, but leave that out entirely in her Going Rogue story?

The answer, presumably, is that if she stated that every doctor in the country would have advised her to get to the hospital immediately. CBJ apparently didn't.