The goofy argument in question has to do with–you guessed it!–Trig Trutherism.
I have no evidence that these stories have been “flogged to death” by reporters. Does Weigel? Pray tell. Who? For what outlet? He’s a reporter and he admits he never bothered to look into this – because the Democrats hadn’t made it an issue!
Sullivan’s right, but not for the reasons he thinks. The media and Democrats have not flogged this issue to death because the entire issue is nucking futs, as is anyone who is as obsessed with it as Sullivan is. The media has better things to do with its time. So do Democrats–and presumably, at some point, they will clue us in on what those better things are. This is why neither the media, nor Democrats have flogged this issue to death; there is no issue to flog. A more interesting question to ask is whether a non-issue, if flogged, screams in pain.
Sullivan is not done. In this post (with its fatuous title, implying that there is some kind of empirical integrity attached to questions that Sullivan asks regarding this non-issue-rightfully-non-flogged-by-sane-people-with-more-important-things-to-do), he gives us this:
. . . I urge you to read the latest data points on the story, specifically the eye-witness accounts of two journalists who, after two years of silence, are now saying they saw Palin’s pregnant belly covered only by a thin layer of fabric before she gave birth. These are important new parts of this jigsaw puzzle, and they go alongside the handful of pictures we have of Palin pregnant in her one-month public pregnancy. They should be taken seriously and definitely buttress - powerfully – the case that this whole thing is a tempest in a spatula.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Thank God! So we can finally let this particular White Whale go! Right?”
Does this long-delayed meta-story settle the matter? The key thing, it seems to me, is to look at all the facts we now have and try to get beyond the order and manner in which we found these things out. This is not easy. But having tried to do that over this weekend, I still believe that none of these new things, alas, prove the pregnancy the way simple medical records would. To me, however, they do strongly tip the balance toward establishing the pregnancy as fact. . . .
. . . Palin’s doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, wrote a detailed medical report on Palin that was released right before the election in November 2008. In the report (.pdf) the doctor described the pregnancy in detail:
At the time of her most recent pregnancy, Governor Palin had no health risk factors other than her age. Routine prenatal testing easly in the second trimester showed evidence of Trisomy 21, which was confirmed by perinatology consultation and amniocentesis. She followed the normal and recommended schedule for prenatal care, including follow-up perinatology evaluations to ensure that there was no significant congenital heart disease or other condition of the baby that would preclude delivery at her home community hospital. This child, Trig, was born at 35 weeks in good health. He was able to go home at two days of age with his mother. He has some minor problems with jaundice that required phototherapy in the hospital and at home for several days.
Baldwin-Johnson is the same doctor who spoke with Quinn, the AP reporter, after the ’08 GOP convention and she also gave an interview to the Anchorage Daily News in April 2008 describing the delivery of Trig (and noting that she had induced labor).
Sullivan’s refrain on this issue is that he does not endorse any conspiracy theory, he is merely asking questions. He simply wants Palin “to debunk this for once and for all, with simple, readily available medical records.” He has proposed, for example, the release of “amniocentesis results with Sarah Palin’s name on them.”
It’s worth noting that this posture is identical to the rhetoric used by Obama birthers (for instance, WorldNetDaily Birther czar Joseph Farah employs the “just asking for definitive piece of proof x” line here).
But the larger point is that continuously demanding more “proof” on an issue about which there is already overwhelming evidence is either irrational or disingenuous. And why would a piece of paper with amniocentesis results and Sarah Palin’s name be more dispositive than the doctor’s many statements and the testimony of all of the reporters who saw Palin pregnant? If you already believe everyone is lying and everything is a hoax, it wouldn’t.
Later, we have this from
Captain Ahab Sullivan:
Let’s note something that even Salon would agree with here. There was no vetting of this rogue candidate. The usual mechanism to filter lunatics and hoaxers out of public life was missing. That’s why, by the way, I stayed on the case. I knew no one knew. And I was not able to simply accept that Palin was so obviously sane this was impossible. This was a genuine belief and a real struggle. If I were not a blogger I could have ducked this. But I felt it was my duty not to.
And this is the thing dividing us, isn’t it? If you think Palin isn’t that weird, as the doctor puts it, then it seems simply loopy to even entertain the idea that she could have used a prosthetic belly to fake a pregnancy. If deep down you think she’s so delusional, ambitious and weird that it’s possible, even if unlikely, then you start asking questions that you would not usually ask.
Shorter Sullivan: “I can ask weird, nonsensical questions of Sarah Palin, because she is weird.” Take that, logic!
It is obviously too late to ask the Atlantic to fire Andrew Sullivan. Can the Daily Beast do so? Assuming, of course, that it wants to have any credibility whatsoever with an audience skilled in ratiocination?