After going back and forth on this matter, I now think it is likely that Tripp, the son of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, was born after the officially given date of Dec. 27, 2008. Or if he was born on that date, then maybe something usual happened – for example, perhaps the birth was induced early. Keep in mind that the media would not see Tripp for nearly seven weeks after the alleged date of birth.
The issue is important, of course, because the McCain team, at the Republican National Convention in early September 2008, used the claim that Bristol was five months pregnant to argue that she could not be Trig's mother, since Trig allegedly was born in April (an allegation for which there is no real proof).
Is there a key to the truth? I think so. Here is the photo of Bristol at the RNC:
Bristol obviously has padding in the bosom area. But what about the belly? For you Photoshop freaks, here's the picture after some extreme adjustments with the color-curves controls to help show details:
Wow! Did they really just strap a round pillow to her midsection? It sure looks like it. Note how that round shape presses against the dress in the middle of the stomach area, but then there seems to be a space to the side where the material is loose. I don't think real pregnant bellies take that shape. Nor do your better fake-pregnancy empathy bellies.
Also, that baby bump seems to defy gravity by riding so high on her stomach. Here is the RNC picture, now lightened, shown next to an Oct. 14 video capture of Bristol from an MSNBC newscast:
Note how much lower the belly bump on the right, which presumably is genuine, seems to be. What I imagine happened is that the pillow (or whatever) was placed correctly to start out with, but all Bristol had to do was sit down once and the material would be forced upward. (That's also what probably happened to Sarah's padding on March 26 at the Alaska State Museum, where her "baby bump" seemed much too high.)
So this really was a last-minute amateur job of making Bristol look five-months pregnant. Meghan McCain revealed that the Palins confiscated one of her dresses – Meghan, who is voluptuous, would have filled out that dress naturally.
Supporting the idea that Bristol is padded in the bosom and belly in the photo above is this photo from August 24, less than two weeks earlier:
Let's enlarge the midsection of this photo and adjust color to show details:
Bristol seems to have something heavy in the pocket of her sweatshirt or jacket – I'm guessing it's a camera – and it's pulling the material straight down. But the garment at the low point is a few inches away from Bristol's pants, so I suppose there is enough room for, say, a three or three-and-a-half month baby bump to be obscured; perhaps that was the point of wearing that loose-fitting garment.
Of course, even if Bristol was four months pregnant as of the start of the RNC on Sept. 1, that would not absolutely rule her out as Trig's mother. She had to be presented as at least five months along. And that called for extra padding.
The fact that the Palins and McCains agreed to let Bristol wear Meghan's dress while padded to fill it out suggests some real last-minute scrambling just before the start of the RNC. The McCain team surely knew of the birth hoax rumors before they all gathered in Minneapolis, and I suspect they knew of the hoax itself. They did not know that the hoax story would burn across the Internet after ArcXIX, on August 28, accused Sarah at the Daily Kos site of faking the birth. And maybe they did not know about Bristol's second pregnancy till they all met in Minneapolis.
What I suspect is that the McCain team brilliantly improvised by dreaming up the five-months-pregnant Bristol gambit. And by doing so they perhaps saved the campaign from crashing and burning in early September. Instead, the campaign slowly came unravelled as they, and America, learned how frighteningly ill-equipped Sarah Palin would be to one day, in the event of McCain's death, serve as president.