by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Weigel wrote, "Were Sarah Palin to become president and everything the Trig Truthers believed to be proven right, it wouldn't matter at all."
She is a politician, and she has placed her son squarely at the core of her political identity. She makes Trig matter. Think of it this way: remember Al Gore's story about his son's accident - how he looked into his child's lifeless eyes and everything changed that day? Gore told that story many, many times in front of a national audience - as a metaphor for the direction the United States was headed, as a reason to vote for him. You cannot tell me that you wouldn't care if it turned out that that fundamental, life-altering story turned out to be full of lies.
It's about credibility. Sarah Palin is the only candidate from the 2008 presidential election who never released her medical records. She is the only candidate who never gave an open press conference. And the insane story of her son's birth is obviously a lie, and she used this lie repeatedly throughout the campaign, and used her special-needs baby as a stage prop during campaign stops, in order to WIN VOTES.
This woman, who has blocked-out the press entirely, and who has been caught in numerous lies for which the press never holds her accountable, could conceivably become the leader of the Free World. How can you possibly say her credibility isn't important?
I'm sure you've already had an avalanche of emails regarding Mr. Weigel's posts on Trig Birtherism, but I'd like to add my thoughts to the spectrum of perspective, as it were.
Trig does matter, very much, because of the public identity Sarah Palin constructed for herself during the campaign, one which she seems to be re-outfitting for another run now. The image she is trying to sell to the public is one of a woman who believes so strongly in the pro-life movement that she carried to term a Downs Syndrome child knowing the risks and consequences, and continues to care for him today. This is a woman who is supposed to be a Mama Bear, tough as nails, willing to do anything for her family, and willing to go to bat for the country with the same kind of grit and determination - a candidate with a hunting rifle on one hip and an infant on the other.
Narratives like the story about Trig's birth are what help candidates build empathy with their voters, just as Obama's memories of watching his mother battle with insurance companies even in the hospital bed brought a personal and human element into the Health Care debate. A candidate who goes into labor in the middle of a convention, sticks it out, and flies back home to give birth, gee, she's gotta be really damn tough, right? And any woman who has given birth is supposed to be able to empathize with that, and look up to her because of the personal strength it would take to hold together that long.
The fundamental problem with the story isn't that it's physically improbable, though. It isn't even that it may not be true. It's that either way, it does more to discredit her than help her. It's possible that somehow, someway, she managed to leak amniotic fluid and undergo contractions with enough stealth that the assembled convention-goers and later airline staff did not cotton on that the professedly pregnant governor was in fact giving birth to a high-risk baby. If it's true, though, she was doing herself no favors. It makes no sense to act the way she did if she was in labor, none whatsoever. Does acting stupidly automatically mean the story's false? No. But it does mean she put herself and her unborn child in inexcusable risk, in a situation that demanded that critical decisions be made quickly and calmly.
Was she deliberately choosing to put her unborn child in danger? Was she simply not thinking? Either way, her decisions, as she related them, make her look like a poor person to have making important decisions in a high-stakes environment. If she was indeed so careless and thoughtless with the safety of her own baby, how can we, the voters, believe that she would be any more cautious with the nation?
It almost becomes less damning for her to be lying about her in-labor-jet-setting adventures. I'd rather she was simply exaggerating, trying to spin a tall tale about her nerves of steel to wow the other moms. Even so, if the Republicans ran with Kerry's purple hearts in 2004 and dredged up the swiftboaters to discredit him, for them to cry foul over scrutiny of Palin's flimsy story is about as believable as the Dutch forwards rolling and weeping in the World Cup. Litbrit made an excellent comparison of the Trig Birth Tale to a war story, and I think that's dead-on.
More importantly, if Sarah Palin continues to cite that story, to utilize it to sell her image to voters and build her Mommy Street Cred, then we have every right to examine, prod, and criticize her decisions and the believability of the story. She cannot be afforded the luxury of "I believe because it is absurd" on the grounds that it involves her family or that it doesn't affect her as a potential candidate. She is the one who brings her family into the debate for one thing, and moreover - as a candidate, the Trig story means she's at best an exaggerator, and at worst an outright liar, rash and stubborn to the point that she'd endanger her baby to deliver him where she wanted to, or a wretched decision-maker under considerable pressure. If that doesn't impact her candidacy, I don't know what does. And if anyone thinks she isn't going to make another run at something, they're deluding themselves as much as she is.
That's all, from a future voter. Have a good afternoon, gentlemen, and thank you for staffing the Dish while Mr. Sullivan is on his hilariously ill-timed vacation. Serendipity, indeed.
(Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty)
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