Sully Won't Let Up On Baby Trig
The McCain campaign has leaked an email Andrew Sullivan sent them to the Washington Post in which Sullivan demands proof that Sarah Palin really, really DID give birth to baby Trig. WaPo's Howard Kurtz quotes the email and responds:
"I'm very sorry to say, it's come to this: can you confirm on the record that Trig Palin is Sarah Palin's biological son? . . . Since this is a crazy idea, it should be easy for you or someone to let me know, the most popular one-man political blog site in the world, what the truth is."It has always seemed fishy to me, what with Palin supposedly in leaky labor with a known-to-be birth defect baby, yet getting on a plane in Texas to fly all the home to Alaska to give birth.
A day later, he followed up with a second note: "I asked a simple question akin to asking whether you can confirm that the sky is blue. Here's the question in case it got lost: can you confirm on the record that Trig Palin is Sarah Palin's biological son? Can I please get a response of some sort, even if it is that you will not respond?" The McCain camp, which provided the messages to The Washington Post, did not reply.
Why ask that question, with no supporting evidence? "Like any human being," Sullivan told me by e-mail, "I assume that this baby is hers. Of course I do. But as a journalist, my job is also to ask for confirmation or for evidence. And that is all I have done. By e-mail. Not on my blog. I would be remiss if I did not ask them to confirm it. At least that's my view of my responsibility. And I have published every single piece of evidence we have that he is. What else can I do?" He added that McCain aides "won't respond" but "seek to target the blogger asking the question."
Sullivan did post photos of a pregnant-looking Palin when the pictures surfaced.
Is this a case of the McCain folks trying to marginalize a critic, as in Monday's blast at the New York Times as being in the tank for Obama?
"These e-mails show two things," McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb told me. "One, Andrew Sullivan has the biggest one-man ego on the planet. And two, the insanity that this campaign has had to put up with for the last month."
Why not release the hospital records and put this matter to rest?
"Governor Palin has no history of health problems," Goldfarb says. "We believe that a candidate should be able to preserve some privacy in this process, and we're confident the American people will validate that judgment come election day."
Sullivan, one of the earliest bloggers, has been on a tear about Palin lately, calling her "a compulsive, repetitive, demonstrable liar." But it is the Trig question that has his critics, especially on the right, up in arms. For instance, the Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last, on his Galley Slaves blog, says: "Andrew Sullivan is once again openly using The Atlantic as a platform to demand that Sarah Palin 'prove' that she is mother of her youngest child. It is a disgrace for the magazine and everyone associated with it. One hundred and fifty years of storied history set ablaze in fortnight by a single writer."
There's a difference, obviously, between the fact-checked copy that goes into the magazine and the free-wheeling platform that Atlantic gives its bloggers. But Sullivan's Trig postings have troubled some of his colleagues, and he has been in a veiled debate with fellow Atlantic writer Ross Douthat, who wrote:
"If you think that many of the same people who bleat the loudest about the evils of 'Rove-style' politics aren't happy to similarly dirty their hands for the sake of their own causes and candidates -- well, you need only look at some of the coverage of Sarah Palin's family to see how quickly principle gives way to expedience when power is at stake."
Sullivan responded to his detractors last week:
"All this blog has done is ask for facts and context about a subject that the Palin campaign has put at the center of its message, facts about a baby held up at a convention as a political symbol for the pro-life movement, and cited in Palin's acceptance speech. You do that, you invite questions about it. I make absolutely no apologies for doing my job. I find the account of her pregnancy and labor provided by Palin to be perplexing, to put it mildly, and I have every right to ask questions about it, especially since we have discovered that this woman lies more compulsively and less intelligently than the Clintons."