Raw Journolist emails on ‘Palin’s Downs child’

Brad DeLong
Aug 30, 2008, 10:13pm

Falsifying parental records is wrong. Letting your teenage daughter be shamed as a slut with a baby in a culture where slut-shaming is the norm is also wrong, when you can fix it by giving her an extended case of mono and having a near-menopause child yourself.

Yes, I think Sarah Palin should fight rather than embrace the culture. But given the culture what I see–if Trig is indeed her grandchild–is a strong woman trying to protect her family.

I grant that she also has a duty to become a strident feminist fighting the culture of slut-shaming. But what I see is wrong is her evasion of her duty to be a strident feminist advocate, rather than any falsification of parental records…

Brad DeLong

Brad DeLong
Aug 30, 2008, 10:18pm

Remember: in 1688 the Protestant Grandees of the British Parliament convinced themselves that (a) the pregnancy of the Queen had been faked, (b) an infant had been smuggled into the delivery room in a warming-pan and then falsely presented to the public as the newborn James Prince of Wales, and so (c) they had a duty to overthrow their government by force and violence and replace their King James II with
Princess Mary and William of Orange.

We *are* getting into that territory here. That Trig has trisomy 21 is powerful statistical evidence that his mother was old.

Now if it turns out that Trig really has something like fetal alcohol syndrome the balance of probabilities would be the other way, but I have no reason to suspect that…

Brad DeLong

Katha Pollitt
Aug 30, 2008, 11:22pm

One thing I don’t get: if she wasn’t pregnant, her water didn’t break, there was no risk in flying etc. Yet the water breaking and all the rest of her supposed risk taking is part of the narrative. where did it come from?

Dylan Matthews
Aug 30, 2008, 11:42pm

That’s exactly it, Katha. Her conduct on the plane – leaving a city, Dallas, with some of the best natal care anywhere for Wasilla, flying after her water breaks, staying in labor for an eight hour flight when her delivery, by virtue of her age and the baby’s Down’s, will be incredibly dangerous and need intensive care – is so grossly
irresponsible that it suggests that the baby couldn’t possibly be hers.

I understand the impulse to dismiss this as non-news. But assuming the baby is Sarah Palin’s, her conduct was the equivalent of punching herself in the stomach. It’s gross, gross negligence. I still remember when a family friend delivered her baby, knowing from the amnio that it had Down’s, and the surgeries went on for days. The baby was declared dead, revived, etc., etc. It’s a horrendous process. It was hard enough for her at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the best hospital in NE north of Boston, but doing that in Wasilla? Doing it in Wasilla when she very well could have stayed in Dallas? That offends me. That sort of thing warrants a social services call.

So I’m inclined to believe that the girl’s the daughter’s, because Palin is an absolutely wretched parent otherwise. Believing it’s the daughter is probably the most flattering possible angle here.

Avi Zenilman
Aug 30, 2008, 11:46pm

Or she could’ve just lied about the water breaking.

Rick Perlstein
Aug 30, 2008, 11:53pm

I’m new to the thread.

Remember how Eagleton went down: a reporter got a tip from someone who actually turned out (believe it or not, Nixon had nothing to do with it) to be a McGovern supporter worried he’d drag down the ticket. The reporter went to the hospital where Eagleton had allegedly been treated and said he was there to discuss Eagleton’s treatment, and an indiscreet hospital employee said something like s/he thought someone would find out about Eagleton’s mental problems (check this out; I’m
working from memory).

It’s not like an enterprising reporter couldn’t try the same thing today.

Adele Stan
Aug 30, 2008, 11:54pm

I think Schmitt has it right. If the baby is indeed Palin’s daughter’s, the truth will likely come out. However, I”m really uncomfortable with the notion that someone is a “horrible parent” because of choices — even ill-considered ones — she makes in how to handle the child’s birth. As far as I’m concerned, she’s not the parent of this child until the child is born.

As for the water breaking story, Palin had four children by the time this one was conceived, and it’s possible that this delivery went differently than the previous four, on which she likely based her decisions.

I’m not saying it’s not possible that the baby is her daughter’s child. I just think that, regardless how fishy the story is, there are all manner of explanations that could be true.

I’m intrigued, however, by Schmitt’s speculation about the oil revenues check and being Alaska-born.

Mark Thoma
Aug 31, 2008, 12:01am

Here is the table most of the estimates floating around out there are derived from (I think – this traces from Wikipedia which matches the numbers I’m seeing cited in various places).

There is a weird blip in the data at younger ages, but I not sure what to make of it…the unsmoothed rate at age 15 is the same as a 30 year old, but how the data are processed matters. See page 483, the next page has more estimates).



But this graph shows the clear association with higher ages (the white circle is the estimate referenced above that is equal to a 30 year old). Also note the vertical scaling: