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Palin interview shows her weakness
If you, like I, have read the blogs this morning and tried to get a general idea of how the public responded to Sarah Palin's interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson, you'll notice there's a lot of finger-pointing. On the one hand, many argue that Gibson, a seasoned journalist, was off his mark and engaged in unprofessional behavior by demanding yes or no answers from Palin, whom he says lost him in "a blizzard of words." Other commenters argue that it was Palin who was off the mark, trying to file questions that are outside of her scope and breadth of knowledge and experience.
Let this blogger say that he agrees with the latter: Not only did Gov. Palin attempt to sidestep the questions offered by Gibson, but her ignorance to important policy (i.e. the "Bush doctrine") was so apparent, that I can't understand how the Republican leadership could ever argue that she's more qualified as a VP candidate than the presidential nominee of the other party.
That Gov. Palin wouldn't answer her questions head-on is not unusual; most politicians have talking points that they try to weave into their answers. It supports their message. However, Sarah Palin's answers were not only oblique, they were ill-informed. The most obvious of these was when Gibson asked Palin if she agreed with the Bush doctrine: President Bush's declaration of "pre-emptory action," in which the United States has the authority to attack another nation that it feels is a credible threat to its security. Palin not only confused the Bush doctrine with President Bush's worldview (and that's not entirely wrong, considering how he has governed the country's foreign affairs), but she had to ask for clarity. "In what respect, Charlie?"
(continued) Even after she attempted to answer the question, obviously unaware of what was being asked of her, Gibson spelled it out: "The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?"
Sarah attempted to recover, but still didn't answer the question, so Charlie asked simply, "Is that a yes?" Like a true politician, Palin simply re-iterated her answer.
In my opinion, that wasn't even the most absurd portion of this interview.
Since their convention, the Republicans have co-opted Sen. Obama's message of "change" and have billed themselves as the candidates who will turn Washington around, roughing up the elites, curbing the special interests kicking ass and taking names, as it were.
A part of this strategy has been to depict Sarah Palin as a Washington "outsider," someone who is not entrenched in the pork-barreling and hand-washing deals of Congress. In as much as this was exactly on course with Sen. Obama's message, the Republicans diverged, slightly, by arguing that not only is Palin a better VP candidate than Biden (for the reasons above), but that while she and Obama are both outsiders, Gov. Palin actually comes to the table with more experience than he.
In short, the Republican vice presidential candidate is more qualified to run the country from the backseat than the man who is doing all the driving on the other team. Gibson wanted to know about that experience and he cited that the only national security experience that the Republican party can tout is the fact that Palin, as governor, commanded the Alaskan National Guard and that Alaska is close to Russia.
That anyone can argue experience based on proximity to another nation is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! To paraphrase a reader on ABC's comment forum: I can see pictures of Russia on Wikipedia, by her logic that makes me just as qualified. Palin, however, argued that her proximity to Alaska shows just how small the world is. Thanks, Gov. Palin, but Marshall McCluhan already beat you to the punch with "the global village" idea.
Those who criticize Gibson assert that he was "cold" and "condescending," treating his interview with Palin as "interrogation." They say Palin's answers were "fine," and suggest that Gibson was "slow," having an "off day," and giving in to his "liberal bias." Of course, none of this accounts for Palin's lackluster answers.
The fact is, Sarah Palin's answers reveal exactly what the Republican party has sought to hide from the American public since they've chosen her: Her breadth of knowledge does not come close to that which must be mastered in order to VP (a step away from the presidency) of the United States. We can all argue until we're blue in the face whether a small-time mayor and two-year governor is more "qualified" than a community organizer and two-year senator; but, one cannot levy an argument that merely looking at Russia gives insight into foreign policy; one cannot assert that ignorance to your party leader's motivation for a war (one that you want to end) is evidence of challenging the good ol boy's network.
What it shows is that Sarah Palin is not up to speed with the very people she plans to govern in Washington as president of the Senate. It suggests that as vice president, Sarah Palin would attempt to solve complex foreign policy and national security issues with absurd logic, and given the state of things in the global village, if you will, I simply don't trust her at the helm of any major policy decisions.