Raw Journolist emails on ‘Palin’s Downs child’

Lamar Robertson
Aug 30, 2008, 9:35am

my wife and the mother of my two children just looked at this picture and immediately commented, “SHE’S WEARING A BELT!” let’s just say that’s not the accessory of choice for most women in their third trimester.

Kathleen Geier
Aug 30, 2008, 9:49am

Look at these family pix here:

And here:

It looks like the daughter *could* be pregnant — especially in the first picture.

And it seems odd that Palin would wait until her 7th month to announce her pregnancy.

None of this is evidence of anything, of course — but I do relish the idea that if this were true and discovered, Palin would take the crown from Eagleton as the most disastrous veep choice ever.

I am really hoping Palin will self-immolate and bring down the ticket with her. Because if she proves to be a popular choice who doesn’t screw up too badly, she could be really, really dangerous in the years to come.

Todd Gitlin
Aug 30, 2008, 10:06am

What Addie said.

Ezra Klein
Aug 30, 2008, 10:15am

Seriously, folks? Best case scenario, what’s your outcome here: Her daughter, hounded by the tabloids, breaks down that it was her child, and her mother heroically took on the burden and welcomed the disabled boy as one of her own? Palin’s relationship with her children — however they may have come to her — strikes me as pretty far out of bounds. By all accounts she’s a wonderful mother, and devoted to her fifth son. Leave this be.

Lindsay Beyerstein
Aug 30, 2008, 10:59am

The story is far-fetched and as yet unsupported by evidence. Kathy’s right: So far, there’s not enough evidence for any responsible commentator to discuss this. Public speculation without proof is cruel and counterproductive.

However, if some reporter thinks this rumor is worth investigating further, and he or she absolutely nails this story, that would be great.

If I had the smoking gun, I’d proudly publish the evidence. (I don’t think the story is plausible enough to bother looking, but that’s a separate question.)

Anyone who decided to raise her granddaughter as her daughter is a liar and a hypocrite, not to mention an abuser of two generations of children. What kind of parent would force her family to live that kind of lie?

What warped values would give rise to such a decision? Lots of grandparents raise their grandkids. That’s admirable and commonplace. Barack Obama spoke movingly before a crowd of 84,000 about how his own grandmother helped raise him.

Why lie about the baby’s origins, except to spare Palin political embarrassment? She’s a self-professed Bible believing Christian whose mommy cred might be diminished by the revelation that she raised an unwed teen mom. That said, I imagine that she would have scored a lot of points for openly raising her daughter’s disabled child–and rightly so. A hoax would suggest extreme selfishness and blind ambition, not to mention vanity and a distinctly irrational preoccupation with keeping up appearances.

The fact that baby Trig has Down Syndrome isn’t the weakest link in the story. Yes, older mothers are at increased risk of bearing children with Down Syndrome. The majority of children with DS are born to younger mothers–because most babies are born to younger women, period.

My cousin, a pediatric nurse, mentioned a couple months ago that moms in their early teens are also at increased risk of bearing children with DS compared to women in their late teens and twenties. Does anyone know of a study to support that? The papers I’ve seen tend to put everyone under 25 in one category, instead of breaking the data down further.



Katha Pollitt
Aug 30, 2008, 11:07am

It would be quite astonishing if the gov of alaska, a person in full view of the public, could perpetrate this deception. SOMEBody delivered a baby after all — there would be medical records, hospital admissions, etc. But I agree with Addie — she doesn’t look especially pregnant to me in the photo, but then nor does the teen daughter in (supposedly) contemporaneous pictures. Maybe it’s an alien baby, like Hillary’s.

Lindsay Beyerstein
Aug 30, 2008, 11:20am

In the post-Rathergate era, journalists should be on their guard for Republican dirty tricks.

If this story gains traction, regardless of its truth or falsity, the Republicans will take steps to neutralize the meme.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the McCain campaign were to leak doctored evidence for the sole purpose of discrediting it and destroying the journalist who published it. That’s probably what the Killian memos were.

We should also be on guard for “evidence” falling into the lap of an unknown and easily discredited figure. That’s probably what Rove did to neutralize the allegations of cocaine use by George W. Bush, lo these many years ago.

If apparently well-substantiated allegations emerge, we should be alert for the story behind the story, so to speak.


Holly Yeager
Aug 30, 2008, 11:21am

I agree that it would be astonishing. But I think it’s quite possible – on this, or some other drama or two – that Palin got away with something in Alaska and so didn’t bother to mention it to the McCain gang. She has spent virtually her entire life in Alaska, and surely underestimates the scrutiny she is now under.

Lamar Robertson
Aug 30, 2008, 11:26am

totally agree w/ lindsay’s point that if this rumor proves true — which seems HIGHLY unlikely — it proves what a horrible parent Palin is. perhaps the two most important values every parent teaches their children is honesty and responsibility. palin’s pretending to be the parent of her daughter’s child would fly in the face of both. maybe people in Juneau didn’t see Juno.

Katha Pollitt
Aug 30, 2008, 11:37am

Raising a child within the family but attributed to a different mother — a grandmother, a sister, an aunt — is not so very unusual. Before legal abortion and widespread use of bc it was more common. I don’t think most americans share your views, Lindsay, that it is abusive and just terrible. Family life would not be possible without lies and hypocrisy. At some level everyone knows that. This way, a child is born, a teen gets on with her life, a grandma gets a child to raise. Everybody wins. The biological facts can be sorted out later.

If this baby story is true, palin will come out looking like a hero — she stepped in when her teen freaked out, threatened suicide, whatever. She went to extraordinary lengths, like a mother should do, to protect her daughter and solve the problem! No abortion necessary! Another pro-life fable for our times.