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Baby Talk

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 24, 2008; 10:10 AM

Is it fair, at this stage of the game, to raise questions about Sarah Palin's baby?

Blogger Andrew Sullivan has been drawing flak in the online world for expressing skepticism about the circumstances surrounding the governor's pregnancy. He first weighed in on the question back on Aug. 31, when Internet rumors were swirling that 4-month-old Trig Palin may have been born not to the veep nominee, but to her 17-year-old daughter Bristol. A day later, the McCain campaign announced that Bristol Palin was five months pregnant, seemingly diffusing any controversy about Trig's birth.

Here's part of Sullivan's original Atlantic post on the topic: "The circumstantial evidence for weirdness around this pregnancy is so great that legitimate questions arise -- questions anyone with common sense would ask. The answers to those questions can easily be provided. . .

"Why would a 43-year-old woman, on her fifth pregnancy, with a Down Syndrome child, after her amniotic fluid has started to leak, not go to the nearest hospital immediately, even if she was in Texas for a speech? . . . Why did the flight attendants on the trip home say she bore no signs of being pregnant?"

Last week, Sullivan, a British conservative who became disgusted with the Bush administration and is a passionate advocate for Barack Obama, sent an e-mail query to the McCain campaign:

"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."

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?


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