Conspiracy

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 23, 2011

Justin Elliott performs a mitzvah that should never have had to have been performed in the first place:

Trig Trutherism, the surprisingly resilient conspiracy theory that Sarah Palin is not actually the mother of 3-year-old Trig Palin, is experiencing a boomlet thanks to a new academic paper that endorses the concept. Long pursued by the blogger Andrew Sullivan and a significant segment of the Palin-hating left, Trig Trutherism holds that Trig’s real mother is either Bristol Palin or some third party, and that Sarah Palin herself faked the pregnancy to avoid embarrassment for her daughter or for political gain or some combination of reasons.

In light of the recent attention this subject has received and the considerable passion it has stirred, Salon embarked last week on an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Trig’s birth. The exhaustive review of available evidence that we conducted, along with new interviews with multiple eyewitnesses who interacted with a pregnant Sarah Palin up-close in early 2008 — most of whom had never spoken publicly about the matter before — has produced one clear conclusion: Sarah Palin is, indeed, Trig’s mother and there is no reason to suspect any kind of a coverup.

We’ve learned, for instance, that an Associated Press reporter in Alaska who was covering Palin during her pregnancy in early 2008 (before she became a national figure) thoroughly investigated rumors that the pregnancy was a hoax. The reporter directly questioned Palin about the matter in a private meeting in her Juneau office before she gave birth. Gov. Palin responded by voluntarily lifting her outer layer of clothing, offering a clear look at her round belly. The reporter quickly concluded that there was no truth to the rumors and never wrote about them.

I am not going to excerpt the whole thing. Rather, I am going to ask that you read the whole thing, which concludes as follows:

You can believe that Palin was wearing a pregnancy suit and Hollywood-quality makeup for weeks, all before she had a national profile. You can believe that she fooled all of those journalists with her pregnancy costume, including the AP reporter who literally inspected Palin’s belly in her office. You can believe that Palin, and her entire family, and her doctor, and her disgruntled former aide Frank Bailey, have been lying to the press in a tightly organized and mind-bogglingly elaborate conspiracy. You can believe that the medical workers who were involved in Trig’s delivery were paid off or have simply kept inexplicably quiet about the hoax. You can believe that Bristol Palin gave birth to Trig and then had another child just eight months later.

Or you can believe that Trig is Sarah Palin’s son.

There is plenty of evidence, of course, to believe the latter. And Elliott provides it.

It ought to go without saying that Elliott’s article is a response to Andrew Sullivan, who has made Trig Trutherism into a calling card–there is a reason, after all, why I refer to Sullivan as the Inspector Javert of Trig Palin’s matrilineal line. Those familiar with Sullivan know well enough that he is not the type to let a stupid conspiracy theory go so long as the stupid conspiracy theory in question is meant to make a Republican look bad. And lo and behold, he doesn’t.

It is important to note that Sullivan does nothing whatsoever to dispute the facts in Elliott’s story. Oh, he claims that he will–he goes so far as to call Elliott’s definitive debunking an “alleged ‘definitive debunking’”–but short of interviewing people with firsthand knowledge of Sarah Palin during the time that she says she was pregnant with Trig, and short of getting testimonials from them that dispute Elliott’s story, there is nothing that Sullivan can offer this story save more foam-at-the-mouth stories about how nothing supposedly is what it seems when it comes to a simple pregnancy so long as the simple pregnancy affects the Palins. Elliott notes Sullivan’s demands that Palin release medical records, and points out that “this posture is identical to the rhetoric used by Obama birthers.” Quite so.

Birtherism is crazy. Trig Trutherism is crazy. Sullivan at the very least chooses to do a passable impression of a crazy person in propagating the latter, which of course robs him of any credibility whatsoever to denounce Obama birthers, insane as the latter group really is.

And of course, while we are on the subject of conspiracy theories, there is another group of people with no standing whatsoever to denounce Obama birther stories, crazy as those stories are. The people profiled here:

I’ve been looking for a good analogue to the willingness of Republicans to believe, or say they believe, that Obama was born abroad, and one relevant number is the share of Democrats willing to believe, as they say, that “Bush knew.”

There aren’t a lot of great public numbers on the partisan breakdown of adherents to that conspiracy theory, but the University of Ohio yesterday shared with us the crosstabs of a 2006 poll they did with Scripps Howard that’s useful in that regard.

“How likely is it that people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?” the poll asked.

A full 22.6% of Democrats said it was “very likely.” Another 28.2% called it “somewhat likely.”

That is: More than half of Democrats, according to a neutral survey, said they believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks.

I am betting that number has not changed all that much since 2006. And to the extent that it hasn’t, pundits who pretend that the crazy is all on one side of the partisan divide are pundits you and I should stop wasting time paying attention to.

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