Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin, Trig, and Baldwin-Johnson

A few days ago John McCain announced his surprise Vice Presidential candidate: first-term Governor from Alaska, Sarah Palin. While most of us were scratching our heads asking, "why?" others began busily taking a look at just who Sarah might be.

Lying About Abuse of Power
One of the first things that turned up was a potential debacle concerning an abuse of power charge resulting from what looks to be Sarah's unjustifiable firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. Governor Sarah, her husband Todd, and members of her gubernatorial staff tried to pressure the commissioner to fire her sister's ex-husband, an Alaska State Trooper named Mike Wooten. When Walt wouldn't get rid of the trooper, Sarah got rid of Walt. Audio tapes and e-mails now show that Walt was pressured to fire Mike, even though Sarah initially denied any interference. You can find detailed information about this ongoing investigation online, using keywords: Wooten, Monegan, Palin. TPM Muckraker has a detailed write-up on the scandal.

Pretending Motherhood?
The next thing that turned up is a rumor that has been floating around Alaska for a few months. It has to do with the Governor's surprise 5th pregnancy and the rather strange circumstances surrounding the birth of Trig Paxson Van Palin, now a 4-month old infant with Down syndrome. The rumor goes something like this: the Governor is not the mother as she claims, but the grandmother of the baby. The mother of the baby is the Governor's daughter, Bristol. Bristol, now 17, is seen in recent campaign videos holding Trig in a tender, motherly embrace.

I honestly don't know about this — whether Sarah or Bristol or someone else entirely gave birth to the baby. But I started looking up information about the birth story itself.

Risky Behavior
March 2008: Sarah publicly announces that she is 7 months pregnant. The announcement shocked everyone — reporters, friends, and people in the Governor's office that she worked with daily. To a person, everyone expressed disbelief, since the Governor didn't look at all pregnant.

April 2008: Sarah tells this story to the media. She was supposed to give a keynote address in Texas on Thursday, April 17, 2008, so she flew from Alaska down to Texas. At 4:00 AM on the 17th she notices she is leaking amniotic fluid. At this point, she is 8 months pregnant. Such a sign is never welcome, as it portends possible fetal distress and a premature birth. However, Sarah is adamant that she wants to deliver her keynote address so she stays in Texas and gives her luncheon speech. She says she called her doctor and the doctor said, okay.

After the speech is over, she reschedules her return flight and heads back to Alaska. Again, she says she called her doctor and the doctor said, okay. She takes off on a commercial jet that afternoon. The jet makes one stopover and she arrives back in Alaska around 10:30 PM that night. Then, she and her husband drive another 45 minutes to the Mat-Su Medical Center, a small, regional hospital near Wasilla, Alaska, where she checks in. Her doctor decides to induce labor and Trig is born around 6:00 AM on the 18th. The birth is announced in local news articles.

More Than Just a Doctor-Patient Relationship
Sarah's doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, is a family practice physician. Baldwin-Johnson was named the 2002 Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians, after being recommended by Sarah Palin, then mayor of Wasilla. In 2007, as governor, Sarah created the Alaska Health Care Strategies Planning Council and appointed Baldwin-Johnson to this important planning council.

The doctor practices her specialty (which I find very interesting WRT the baby-gate rumors) in a clinic she founded, the Providence Matanuska Health Care center.
Today, Baldwin-Johnson spends most of her days at Providence Matanuska Health Care center, a 38-employee facility she founded, but which became affiliated with Providence three years ago. She also spends at least a half-day per week volunteering at The Children's Place, a nonprofit organization with six paid employees that opened in March of 1999 after two years of planning.

Much of her work there involves working with children coming from physical- or sexual-abuse backgrounds. Baldwin-Johnson has received special training in working with children of abuse. Her interest in working with abused children stemmed from what she was seeing in her medical practice.

"Family physicians not only see children that perhaps have been physically or sexually abused or neglected, but also they see the long-term effects (of that abuse). There are a lot of pregnant and parenting teen-agers with a history of maltreatment, especially sexual abuse." [my emphasis]
I've been unable to confirm if Baldwin-Johnson is affiliated with the Mat-Su Medical Center. For some reason their Physicians page won't load for me. [9-1-2008 Update: the whole site is down today.] What I find interesting is that Mat-Su does not show Trig's birth on their birth announcement page and the doctor doesn't seem to have expertise in premature Down syndrome babies, and the hospital was not equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit which one would hope to have available when a Down syndrome baby is born, especially when born prematurely.

No End to Questions
I'm not sure what all this might mean. But, why would 44-yr-old Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, risk serious complications by traveling so far, so late in her pregnancy? Why did her doctor give her the go-ahead? Why would she ask a family physician whose expertise seems to be with sexually-abused children to handle a risky birth of a Down syndrome baby, instead of seeing an OB-GYN with more specific experience? Why does Sarah go out of her way to travel to a rural hospital that doesn't have facilities to handle premature babies, when she knows there may be life-threatening birth complications? Surely she had the resources to go to the best facility Alaska (or Texas for that matter) had to offer! Why does the birth not show on the Mat-Su Medical Center's register? And why would she take this premature special needs infant to work with her 3 days after the birth?

One or two oddities does not a big deal make. But the story as told just does not add up. There are too many anomalies.

I'll leave aside for now my personal thoughts about a mother of 5 jumping in to a presidential campaign that, if successful, would transport her from Governor of a low-population state to Vice President of the United States.


1000 Bad Dates said...

who in their right mind takes a 3 day old premie to work with them? I believe she is the grandmother. Perhaps she should not watch Desperate Housewives? This whole thing does not add up

Ennealogic said...

I agree there is something odd. For instance, if you are nursing an infant (as Gov. Palin claims she is, with Trig), when you cradle that infant it instinctively nuzzles the breast, even if it isn't hungry. That's just what babies do. You don't see that with this baby.

There's definitely something off here, even though it might not be nefarious. I hope we find out!