It happened again. This time Katie Couric managed not only to make Sarah Palin look bad, but John McCain look worse! What was her diabolical secret? She used that secret weapon – asking questions. In this one-on-two interview, John McCain showed up to sit with Sarah to make sure she didn’t screw up too badly, and tried to keep that big bad journalist on a short leash. Saturday night in Philadelphia, Palin was questioned by a Temple graduate student about whether the U.S. military should cross the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan. She answered, “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said.
That was the subject of Katie Couric’s first question. Palin basically repeated what Barack Obama had said during the Presidential debate, when John McCain scoffed at him and patronizingly admonished him by saying, “You don’t say that out loud.” (subtext: you naive little idiot!)
McCain, in this joint interview, is obviously under stress. He squirms and blinks. You look at him and listen to the tone of his voice, and you know he’s a man on edge. He’s a pressure cooker who’s keeping the lid on with all his might. Palin, comes across as cool and confident (except for that nervous lip lick she does, and the occasional clenched jaw), but with Palin, it’s the transcript that is fascinating. You really have to read the “blizzard of words” to fully appreciate the extent to which she isn’t saying anything.KC: Over the weekend, Governor Palin, you said the US should “absolutely” launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan to Pakistan to “stop the terrorists from coming any further in” now that’s almost the exact position that Barack Obama has taken and you, Senator McCain, have criticizes as something you do not say out loud. So, Governor Palin, are you two on the same page on this?SP: We had a great discussion with President Zardari as we talked about what it is that America can and should be doing together, to make sure that the terrorists do not cross borders, and do not ultimately put themselves in the position of attacking America again, or her allies. And we will do what we have to do to secure the United States of America and her allies. KC: Is that something you shouldn’t say out loud Senator McCain?JM: Of course not. But look, I understand this day and age “gotcha journalism”. Was that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who…you didn’t hear the question very well…you don’t know the context of the conversation…grab a phrase. Uh, Governor Palin and I agree you don’t announce that you’re going to attack another country.KC: Are you sorry you said it, Governor?JM: Now wait a minute! Before you say is she sorry she said it, this was a gotcha sound bite.
KC: It wasn’t a gotcha. She was talking to a voter.
JM: She was in a conversation. She was in a conversation with a group of people, and talking back and forth…and I…I don’t…I’ll let Governor Palin speak for herself.
SP: In fact you’re absolutely right on. In the context, this was a voter…a constituents hollerin’ out a question from across an area asking, “What are you gonna do about Pakistan? You better have an answer to Pakistan.” I said, “We’re going to do what we have to do to protect the United States of America.”
KC: You were pretty specific about what you wanted to do – cross border…
SP: (interrupting) As Senator McCain is suggesting here also, never would our administration get out there and show our cards to, uh, terrorists, in this case to enemies, and let them know what the game plan was, not when that could ultimately adversely affect a plan to keep America secure.
KC: What did you learn from that experience?
SP: That this IS all about gotcha journalism. A lot of it is! But that’s OK too.
KC: Governor Palin, since our last interview, you’ve gotten a lot of flack. Some Republicans have said you’re not prepared, you’re not ready for prime time. People have questioned your readiness since that interview, and I’m curious to hear your reaction.
SP: Well, not only am I ready, but willing and able to serve as Vice President with Senator McCain if Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them. Ready with my executive experience as a city mayor and manager, as a governor, as a commissioner, a regulator of oil and gas.
JM: This is not the first time I’ve seen a governor questioned by some…quote “expert.” I remember that Ronald Reagan was a cowboy. President Clinton was the governor of a very small state that had no experience either. I remember how easy it was going to be for Bush 1 to defeat him. I still recall…whoops…that one. But the point is uh, I’ve seen uh, underestimation before. I’m very proud of the excitement that Gov. Palin has ignited with our party around this country. It is a level of excitement and enthusiasm frankly that I’ haven’t seen before and I’d like to attribute it to me, but the fact is that she has done an incredible job and I’m so proud of the work that she’s doing.
Now, I’m not the one who brought up Bill Clinton, and I wouldn’t have if I were John McCain. BUT….since he did, I thought it would be fun to look at this other governor of a “very small state that had no experience either.” First of all, notice that McCain said “either,” so he is pretty much admitting that Palin has no experience. But lets compare “very small states.”
Alaska: population 626,932. 1.1 people per square mile. Borders a whole lot of empty space in Canada.
Arkansas: population 2,673,400. 51.1 people per square mile. Borders six states.
So John McCain is comparing these two states to justify Palin’s abilities. Arkansas has almost 5 times the population, and 50 times the population density than Alaska. And it has neighbors.
But we won’t quibble. This isn’t a “who’s the smallest” contest. Let’s get to the real meat of McCain’s argument. Let’s compare Bill Clinton’s no experience, with Palin’s “no experience either.”
Clinton: After attending Georgetown on scholarships, he received a B.S. in Foreign Service. After graduation he received a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford where he studied government. He attended and graduated Yale Law School. He was a professor at the University of Arkansas. He was the Attorney General of the State of Arkansas. He was the governor of Arkansas for 10 years. He was the Chair of the National Governor’s Association. He also worked on state and national campaigns.
Palin: One semester at Hawaii Pacific University, two semesters at North Idaho College as a general studies major, two semesters at the University of Idaho, one semester at the Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska, and three semesters at the Univeristy of Idaho, graduating with a B.S. in communications-journalism. She worked briefly as a sportscaster for an Alaskan TV station and as a sportswriter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper. She spent several years as a homemaker, and four years on the Wasilla city council. She served two terms as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 7000), and twenty months as Governor of the aforementioned state with a little over half a million people in it.
So McCain’s argument is that if Bill Clinton could be a successful president, than surely Sarah Palin could. At least that’s what he’s trying to convince the teacher in this weirdly awkward parent-teacher converence. We all know that Sarah’s been trying really hared, but somehow I don’t think Mrs. Couric is going to change her grade.
To watch the clip from the interview, click HERE.