Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sarah Palin: Deer In the Headlights

Holy, moley. Two weeks of intensive preparation, briefing books, talking points, schooling...and that’s the best she can do? Set afloat from her strict script for the first time in two weeks, Sarah Palin showed tonight how totally unqualified she is to be vice-president of the United States.

Charlie Gibson is the oldest and most bland of what now passes for the network anchors. After getting advice from everyone in the blogosphere, he ignored it all and came to his Palin interview with the simplest of questions. He started one big fuzzy softball – "Can you look the country in the eye and say ‘I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?’" Well, duh – what do you think she’s going to say, no? But Palin even seemed to struggle with that one, denying that she hesitated at all when asked. "You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission...you can’t blink." Oh, great. Haven’t we just suffered through eight years of Mr. Non-Blink, Mr. Committed to the Mission? Do we really want even one more year of people leading themselves down blind paths just because they made the stupid decision to head that way in the first place?

But that was just the start. Palin failed on every substantive question Gibson floated out there, from Russia (sure, Georgia should be in NATO; sure, we would have to defend it if...no, wait...) to Iran (she repeated three times that we should not second-guess Israel if it decides to take out nuclear facilities) to Pakistan (coming out, as far as anyone could tell – "is that a yes?" asked Gibson – in favor of unilateral strikes into the country). She clearly had no idea what the Bush Doctrine (strike first, ask questions never) was, asking "in what respect" Gibson was asking her that damn question. She even punted the issue after Gibson graciously told her what it was, saying that a president should act if "a strike in imminent", not realizing imminence has nothing to do with the dumb and hopefully dead doctrine.

Throughout the session, Palin was leaning forward in a defensive crouch, the file cards of her training shuffling in her head for the right category, subject and bullet point. Away from the safety of her script and the cheery surroundings of her stump speeches, she was much smaller in stature and presence, not that she was all that great to begin with. The look on her face was often one of confusion and impatience. Palin was in a tough situation. She had to do two things: 1) pretend she knew about things about which she did not have a clue; and 2) hide her true feelings about international relations, mostly, as much as she’s thought about it (obviously not much), having to do with "god’s plan". She failed miserably at both.

She was clearly out of her depth in the world of serious thought, even on the fairly lightweight issues broached by Gibson. She wasn’t even mildly conversant in any of the subjects regularly discussed by real and armchair politicians at all levels of government and in blogger basements all over the country. She didn’t have a clue and you couldn’t tell from her defensive posture and demeanor whether she cared that she didn’t.

Palin obviously cares about many things – mostly having to do with religious nuttery and using her position as governor to extract family vengence and to have her kids fly around with her at state expense -- but, still, she cares. But during the interview, it was clear that, until she had to, she had not given the great policy questions of our time any thought whatsoever.

If Gibson had put the same questions to Barack Obama, Obama would bat one and then the other out of the park, in the back of his mind wondering "what’s with the soft stuff?", waiting for the real interview to start. So would anyone in Washington at a rank above summer interns. Her lack of depth reveals an entirely different perspective on "experience" and its relevance to those who aspire to the presidency, vice- or otherwise.

It is one thing to manage the nuts-and-bolts of a town or state. It is quite another to act as the figurehead of a government that pretty much runs itself. A president has to manage the Big Picture of the country's direction and its role in the world. It really is essential to have talked and thought a lot about it; your ideas challenged in public and private debate. You can't just jump into it in a month or even a year, especially with the kind of obvious intellectual uncuriosity displayed by Paliin in the interview.

The interview with Palin tonight showed how utterly irresponsible John McCain was for putting this lightweight on his ticket. I sense, from the lack of celebratory clucking on the right-wing tonight, that his supporters, deep in their hearts, feel the same way.

17 comments:

tommcmahon said...

The problem, of course, is that all these arguments about inexperience apply in some form to Obama. Hillary would have been a MUCH stronger candidate over the long haul.

Anonymous said...

tommcmahon -

That's absurd. We can argue day and night about community organizer/state legislator vs. small town Mayor, but the fact of the matter is, there is no denying that Obama has a deep understanding of the major issues, both local and international, that face this country. He’s been ahead of the curve on both Iraq and Afghanistan while Palin was up in Wasilla, hearing about the surge “on the news.”

It’s obvious to anyone who watched that interview that Palin has no clue what she's talking about – whether or not they admit it is another matter. She has shown no understanding, or even interest in, the major issues of the day. Just yesterday she linked Iraq to 9/11 - hell, even Bush stopped doing that years ago. You should be terrified at the prospect of her actually ascending to a position of power.

I have to say. I came into this interview with zero expectations of Gibson’s ability to lead a substantive interview. I was expecting him to ask Palin stuff like, “Do you love America more than Obama’s pastor?” and “Why does Obama want to raise my capital gains taxes?” I was pleasantly surprised to see him not back down when it came to the Bush Doctrine question. And he finally had to tell her what it was. Pathetic.

-evan

Anonymous said...

WOW! What a shock! Mike Plaisted thought Palin did horribly in a one-on-one interview! And I'm absolutely sure Mike watched that interview with a completely open mind and no negative template whatsoever.

Even if Palin hit a grand slam in the interview, Mike would NEVER admit it and would still treat us to the same drivel that he's provided us today.

Keep focusing on Palin...PLEASE keep focusing on her.

Other Side said...

Can't help but note that anony 9:23 AM had nothing to say about Palin's performance. Apparently she didn't impress him either.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Evan, You neglected to include State Governor before small town Mayor. Obama ahead of the curve on Iraq? How's that surge he opposed working out? And we all know Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 until we started fighting Al-Qeda in Iraq. You're right on about the Bush Doctrine - even I didn't know what it was.

Anonymous said...

other side - you're right, I didn't even watch the interview, but I knew what Mike's response would be no matter what. I could care less about Gibson or his "gotcha" style and condescending nature of his interviewing.

I'm not voting for McCain, I'm voting against Obama. And I'm sorry, the VP candidates mean little to me, they're largely ceremonial and truly do nothing other than break a tie in the Senate on a vote.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:05
I also didn't mention Obama being a Senator. Ya see, I was just giving an example of an experience argument. I wasn't laying out every point. Obama’s argument has never been about “experience.” It’s always been about “judgment.”

Yes, the surge has helped bring down violence (along with several other factors, that even Patreus recognizes), but it has not helped bring about the political reconciliation that it was supposed to. As far as Obama being ahead of the curve on foreign policy issues. Let’s take a look.

1)Was right about not invading Iraq in the first place

2)Was ahead of the curve in suggesting a timetable for withdrawal (a strategy Maliki, and now Bush, have endorsed)

3)Was ahead of the curve in suggesting increasing troop levels in Afghanistan (a strategy Bush has now announced)

4)Was attacked as being naïve for suggesting we target Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, you know, those who actually were responsible for 9/11 (Bush has since started doing just that)

Time after time, Obama has led the way on major foreign policy issues while McCain has sat with his fingers in his ears and Palin was busy securing earmarks, racking up debt, abusing the power of her office and not “really focusing much on the war in Iraq.”

And if you didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was, well, then you're equally unqualified to be Vice President. Congratulations.

-evan

Anonymous said...

1)Was right about not invading Iraq in the first place

Uh, it's really easy to be for or against something when you actually have no vote on it...or did he vote "present?"

2)Was ahead of the curve in suggesting a timetable for withdrawal (a strategy Maliki, and now Bush, have endorsed)

He suggested a timetable when he thought the war had been lost (pre-surge).

3)Was ahead of the curve in suggesting increasing troop levels in Afghanistan (a strategy Bush has now announced)

Gee, maybe he saw how a troop surge (which he opposed vehemently in Iraq) could actually work in Afghanistan. This was also after McCain recommended the surge in Afghanistan.

4)Was attacked as being naïve for suggesting we target Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, you know, those who actually were responsible for 9/11 (Bush has since started doing just that)

There's a difference, Obama supported doing this without specific permission of Pakistan, which is effectively attacking Pakistan.

Since when are we celebrating Obama's newfound "hawkishness?"

Anonymous said...

Looks like Gibson also doesn't know which definition of Bush Doctrine is currently used:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/12/AR2008091202457.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Joseph said...

wow, what alternate universe does mike live, Palin was articulate and clearly understood and responded to all the questions accurately, a clear grand slam home run. hussien Obama is running scared

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Evan - The bottom line is Obama wanted to take us down a path of failure and the lies Sarah Palin is accused of, I bet you read them all on the internet.

Obama's judgment? He hangs with known terrorist bombers, smokes tobacco and has a hard time sounding coherent when he's off script. And somehow he's turned his campaign into Obama the presidential candidate vs Sarah Palin who's just the VP choice.

David M. said...

I can't imagine how anybody could interpret Ms. Palin's performance as a "grand slam, home run." She appeared terribly uncomfortable at times, especially when asked of the Bush Doctrine - to be honest, it was painful to watch. This person is not prepared to be VP - how she was chosen is beyond comprehension.

Anonymous said...

Gibson also had no idea of what the Bush Doctrine is:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/12/AR2008091202457.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Anonymous said...

Palin is a cipher. After seeing the interviews, it's now obvious why the McCain folks have here on a very short leash.

And at some point McCain is going to get tripped up on his ridiculous claims. She didn't ask for any earmarks? Where's that 70 page memo she sent in January, 2008, to her crook friend Ted Stevens asking for more pig slop for Alaska? Slurp, slurp, slurp!

Anonymous said...

No mention of Obama's earmarks for his wife's hospital? I laugh when liberals all of a sudden become ultra fiscal conservatives on earmarks when it's to their political advantage.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Obama should understand that Russia has veto power when it comes to the UN security council. He obviously does not know this based upon his comments about Russia and Georgia.

This is more troubling to me than Palin not knowing the Bush Doctrine. After all Obama is running for President.

Anonymous said...

This is why we don't attack inside Pakistan without permission:

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hkiMxbHNH0BqgpWA2ZG6VD6wVTmAD937RO2G0