Friday, April 15, 2011

Was Sarah Palin's last pregnancy a hoax? Why it matters

Sarah Palin, her husband, Todd, and their youngest son, Trig, on stage w during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Sept. 3, 2008. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)
I'm stirring the pot over at Shine today, where I take a look at the rumor that's resurfaced, about whether Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy with Trig.

With Donald Trump eying the White House and sending his own staffers to do some birth-certificate hunting in Hawaii, another birth certificate issue has resurfaced, on the other side of the political aisle.

Rumors that Sarah Palin youngest son may actually be her grandson—and her pregnancy a hoax—first came up days after Arizona Senator John McCain emerged as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, and Palin was on the short list to be his running mate. In March 2008 Palin, then 44 and the governor of Alaska, announced to her shocked staff that, in spite of her barely-there belly and the fact that she could still fit into her pre-pregnancy wardrobe, she was seven months pregnant with her fifth child.

Trig was born, a month early, on April 18; McCain asked Palin to be his VP in late August. The pregnancy-hoax rumor was squashed on September 1 by the McCain campaign's awkward announcement during the Republican National Convention that Palin's teenage daughter, Bristol Palin, was five months pregnant (and, therefore, couldn't have given birth to Trig in April).

Now, Northern Kentucky University professor Bradford Scharlott has taken another look at the news reports, photos, and other documentation. His investigation, published on, concludes that Sarah Palin's pregnancy with Trig was a hoax—and his argument is pretty interesting. (You can read the synopsis at Shine.)

But does it matter? It's been nearly three years. Trig isn't running for public office. Is the media just bashing a special-needs kid because his mom happens to be a Republican icon? Or are they implying that pregnancy and parenthood affect Palin's ability to hold public office?

For one thing, no one is bashing Trig; they're questioning the circumstances of his birth. And, for another, while of course the toddler isn't running for office, his mother has, more than once, and says she may again. And that's why it matters. No one really cares whether she's Trig's biological mom or not—that doesn't have anything to do with her ability to govern. But the possibility that she's lying in order to cover up a situation that contradicts her public stance on an issue, or that reflects poorly on her as a public figure? That does.

This is different than the Obama birther controversy. A "Certification of Live Birth," which is a short-form version of a full birth certificate and is common in nearly every state, satisfied the legal requirements Obama faced in running for President simply because it verified the pertinent information (parents' names, and the date, time, and city or town of birth—click here to see it yourself) that Palin refuses to verify in her own situation.

Of course, the comments are already flying fast and furious over in the Manage Your Life section at Shine. Read the entire post there and weigh in: Should we hold a politician to the same standard to which she holds others?

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