I confess to being a little nervous about tonight’s interview of Sarah Palin by Charlie Gibson of ABC News. I wasn’t too worried that she’d hit it out of the park. Why? Because she really doesn’t know anything. There are only so many talking points you can memorize. And even if you memorize one and parrot it back perfectly, there are still those damned follow-up questions, and that annoying ‘nuance’ you have to deal with. I was worried that Charlie Gibson would ask her to talk about her lapel pin, or ask her about her favorite recipe for moose stew. Gibson exceeded my expectations, and Palin didn’t.
Compared to her usual Alaska Governor persona, she seemed tense, and scripted. And someone must have told her to use people’s names when talking to them, because she must have said “Charrlee” a dozen times in the first 10 minutes. All in all, I give her low marks. Why? Because basically, she sounded like she had no idea what she was talking about. It was all pep talk, and no substance. All memorized sound bytes that sometimes were repeated verbatim like a broken record, and no sincerity. A few things stuck out, like when Gibson asked if she hesitated after being asked to be McCain’s running mate.
PALIN: I didn’t hesitate, no.
GIBSON: Didn’t that take some hubris?
PALIN: I — I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink.
Gibson nailed it. Hubris indeed, and Palin has lots of it. How else can you have no foreign policy, national or international experience, and NOT HESITATE? Palin is most definitely focused on the mission. And she is ready because she is confident that she is ready.
GIBSON: But this is not just reforming a government. This is also running a government on the huge international stage in a very dangerous world. When I asked John McCain about your national security credentials, he cited the fact that you have commanded the Alaskan National Guard and that Alaska is close to Russia. Are those sufficient credentials?
PALIN: But it is about reform of government and it’s about putting government back on the side of the people, and that has much to do with foreign policy and national security issues Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that’s with the energy independence that I’ve been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.
GIBSON: I know. I’m just saying that national security is a whole lot more than energy.
PALIN: It is, but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security. It’s that important. It’s that significant.
Her foreign policy experience is energy. McCain said it today in Maine, and Palin said it in Alaska. They’ve said it from coast to coast, and repeated themselves. So it must be true.
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words. But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that’s a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God’s side. That’s what that comment was all about, Charlie.
She was quoting Lincoln… I can almost see the former Bush PR people frantically Googling “God quotes” and trying to find one that came close. But as for her intentionally quoting Lincoln, and not mentioning she was quoting Lincoln when she was quoting Lincoln? This is the woman who, when asked what she thought about keeping ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance said, “Absolutely. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me!” She was only a couple hundred years off. But she memorizes Lincoln quotes…
PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That, in my world view, is a grand — the grand plan.
I don’t like it when recent mayors of small towns and first term governors start having “grand plans for this world.” It makes me nervous. And didn’t someone just say ‘hubris’?
GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?
PALIN: They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.
This one had me laughing out loud. Ready for a lesson in Alaska geography/International Affairs? Off the coast of Nome, 532 miles northwest of Anchorage (the closest city) is an island called Little Diomede. Little Diomede is 2.4 miles east of the island called Big Diomede, which is in Russia.
Little Diomede, Alaska has a population of 146. It is 2.5 square miles in area. There are 42 children in the school. Nobody drives to work. Big Diomede is a whopping 26 square miles. On a clear day you can see the Island of Big Diomede from the western shore of Little Diomede. Therefore Sarah Palin is capable of negotiating with Putin and Sakashvili to peacefully settle the violent conflict that has been burgeoning in the separatist enclave of South Ossetia.
GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?
PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.
GIBSON: So if we wouldn’t second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would cooperative or agree with that.
PALIN: I don’t think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.
GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.
PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.
Can you find the talking point in the above exchange? I’ll bet you can.
And I’ve saved the worst for last.
GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?
PALIN: In what respect, Charlie? (no clue what the Bush Doctrine is)
GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?
PALIN: His world view. (Hopeful)
GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.
He eventually went on, after she talked in circles for a while, and bailed her out by telling her exactly what the Bush doctrine IS, and all about pre-emptive war and how that’s OK in George W. Bush’s world. Once she knew what it was, she agreed.
It’s going to be a long 53 days. Don’t blink.