Truthers to the Left of Me, Truthers to the Right
Jack Bogdanski, a law professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, stirred up Trig Trutherism again this week with a post on his website exposing “Sarah Palin’s fake pregnancy belly.” Armed with frontal photos of Palin’s stomach, Bogdanski declared: “The Mar. 26 photo is the smoking gun. There really is no chance that there’s a baby in there who will be born 23 days later at six pounds birth weight. And there really is no chance that the child grew so suddenly over the following two weeks. … Sarah Palin is not the mother.”
We’re all obstetricians now!
This nonsense began with left-wing Internet rumors that Palin was really Trig’s grandmother and that she was covering up for the “real” mother—her teenage daughter, Bristol. The conspiracy was hyped by The Atlantic’s excitable resident womb-chaser Andrew Sullivan and later amplified by “respectable” journalists like CNN/Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz. As the fever swamps roiled, Alaska TV reporter Cherie Shirey stepped forward to squash the paranoia with a statement to the liberal Huffington Post:
“These Internet rumors are very bizarre. We worked with Gov. Palin many times in 2008. Our reporters worked her on location and in the studio, and I worked with her myself. She was definitely pregnant. You could see it in her belly and her face. The whole idea that Sarah Palin wasn’t pregnant with Trig is completely, absolutely absurd.”
Shirey was ignored. Profile shots of a heavily pregnant Palin taken in April 2008 didn’t satisfy the Fake Belly mob, either. The disclosure that Bristol was in fact pregnant with her teenage boyfriend’s child did not quell the insanity. Neither did a health assessment from Palin’s personal physician affirming her five pregnancies, nor did contemporaneous hospital accounts of the birth or Palin’s accounts of nursing Trig.
It’s only a matter of time before someone accuses Palin of planting fake breast milk on her pump.
The plain truth will never mollify a Truther. There’s always a convoluted excuse—some inconsequential discrepancy to seize on, some photographic “evidence” to magnify into a blur of meaningless pixels—that will rationalize irrationality. Palin could produce Trig’s umbilical cord and it still wouldn’t be enough.
Alas, Trutherism thrives on both the left and right. Which brings us to the spate of lawsuits challenging President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court considers one of those suits, filed by New Jersey citizen Leo Donofrio, who maintains that Obama is not a “natural born citizen” because his father held British citizenship.
There may be the seed of a legitimate constitutional issue to explore here—how is the citizenship requirement enforced for presidential candidates, anyway? And at least Donofrio concedes that Obama was born in Hawaii. But a dangerously large segment of the birth-certificate hunters have lurched into rabid Truther territory. The most prominent crusader against Obama’s American citizenship claim, lawyer Philip Berg (who, not coincidentally, is also a prominent 9/11 Truther) disputes that Obama was born in Hawaii and claims that Obama’s paternal grandmother told him she saw Obama born in Kenya.
Berg and his supporters further assert that the “Certification of Live Birth” produced by Obama was altered or forged. They claim that the contemporaneous announcement in a Hawaii newspaper of Obama’s birth is insufficient evidence that he was born there. (Did a fortuneteller place it in the paper knowing he would run for president?) And they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being part and parcel of the grand plan to install Emperor Obama and usurp the rule of law.
I believe Trig was born to Sarah Palin. I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. I believe fire can melt steel and that bin Laden’s jihadi crew—not Bush and Cheney—perpetrated mass murder on 9/11. What kind of kooky conspiracist does that make me?