Friday, September 12, 2008

Analysis Of The ABC Interview of Gov. Sarah Palin

Part I of the interview:

Comments -

Overall this was neither a great nor a bad interview. Some see it as a hostile one. It was certainly exponentially tougher than anything the press has given to Obama. That said, but for the "prayer" questions, I thought Charlie Gibson was reasonably fair.

Gov. Palin answered several of the questions very well. I especially liked her answer on Israel's right to attack Iran in its own self defense and her answer to the questions on NATO. She accurately stated the NATO central tenent - that an attack on one is an attack on all - and that we should bring the Ukraine and Georgia into the NATO fold as a way to lessen the likelihood that those nascent democracies will suffer from Russian predation.

Her answer on the prayer question, that she, like Lincoln, prayed for no more than that we are on God's side, was incredibly good. That was made all the moreso true when you consider that it was done in the face of ABC using a doctored tape that cut and spliced her words to give a different meaning. I await ABC's explanation of that one. Hot Air has that entire story.

Some of her answers to the other questions were evasive and she had the deer in the headlights look when Gibson asked her about the "Bush doctrine." That is going to make all sorts of DNC ads. Palin clearly did not know what Gibson was talking about. She would have been much better off saying immediately "I am drawing a blank, remind me of the docrine," and then launching into her answer - which would have been better if it resembeled Andy McCarthy's at NRO. Not knowing every nuance is not weakness. Being afraid to admit that she does not know every nuance is. Gibson let her hang on that one and she herself turned a small got'cha into a larger one.

Given that she didn't know the Bush doctrine - which, in reality, is fairly basic - it is clear she is not a foreign policy wonk and that she is drinking it in right now at fire hose speed. Given her other answers, she is obviously a quick study. She hurts herself by attempting paint herself on this issue as stronger than she is, and the talk about Alaska bordering Russia as somehow imbuing her with a check in the foreign policy credential box comes across as very weak indeed. Trying to make more of that then is justified is very much akin to Obama relying so heavilly on his experience as a community organizer. It rings hollow and makes her look smaller.

Gov. Palin would be better served if she followed a formulaic response whereby, in answering foreign policy and national security questions, she first would give a short statement of the general principles that would guide her judgment in regards to the matter under question and then launch into the specifics. For example, "Charlie, my rule of thumb is that we must protect existing democracies and do our best to promote democracy throughtout the world. From that standpoint, . . . . blah, blah, Russia, Georgia, Israel, etc." It would clarify some of her rambling answers and it would also highlight her judgment.

Obama has at least some record on foreign policy - his Iraq votes, his vote against declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, etc. - from which the quality - or lack thereof - of his judgment can be gleaned. Palin starts out as a true tabula rasa with no prior record. To remedy that, we need to clearly hear from Gov. Palin the principles that will guide her judgment. She will earn brownie points if she can also clearly articulate in a sound byte how her judgment on a particular issue is different from the Obama/Biden camp. Biden has been so wrong so often on so many foreign policy issues, that should be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Gov. Palin's answer to the question of Pakistan was also very weak. There is a textbook answer to Gibson's question of whether we have the right to cross the border and attack into Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government. The honest answer would be - "Numbnuts, I am not going to announce as policy that we are going to cross Pakistan's border and piss off a nuclear armed country and nominal ally. If our soldiers get lost and inadvertently end up on the other side dressed in Paki clothing, well, mistakes happen."

The tactful answer would be "Charlie, we are in a war and the rule of thumb is that we only go to war if we intend to win the war. We must do so at the least cost in lives of our soldiers. We cannot stand idly by while al Qaeda and the Taliban launch cross border attacks against our coalition soldiers and Afghani civilians from uncontrolled parts of Pakistan. Equally, we do not want to do anything overtly that would threaten the stability of Pakistan - a country which is at present an ally in the war on terror and which is a nuclear armed nation of over ___ million people. Launching overt, large scale attacks across the border may have that effect and leave us worse off. Thus, as things stand today, prudence demands that we should operate within those boundaries. That is the extent of my answer on this one and I will say no more." And when Gibson asks follow up, she should just have repeated "I will say no more."

I will load the second part of the interview from YouTube when its posted. She discusses "anthropogenic" global warming and drilling in ANWR. She is much more comfortable in those discussion.

My overall impression. She passed the test, she did not ace it. She is very intelligent. She is a very quick study. She will be more than ready for the debates. She will be ready for Fox in another week, the Sunday talk shows in another two weeks. She needs to be - and to appear to be - honest in her responses, even if that means displaying that she does not know the tenents of the Bush doctrine - or the name of the foreign minister of South Gotchastan. We will take our anger out on the press for gotch'as. We will take our anger out on her for trying to fool us in answer to a gotch'a.

Update: Per Bill Kristol, WaPo is "Smearing Palin On Page 1." I concur with his analysis. WaPo is claiming that Palin tied the decision to go into Iraq with the assertion that there was a tie-in prewar between al Qaeda and Iraq. She never says that, either during the interview above nor in her speech to deploying troops.

HotAir gives the interview about the same grade as I do, though they speculate on whether some of the interview where Palin appeared weakest was distorted by editing.

Over at the Politico, partisans give her . . . partisan marks.

Instapundit has an extensive roundup, including some pretty critical takes on Gibson's performance. And see Memorandum.

Amazingly, the NYT did not give Gov. Palin high marks.

At The Next Right, some on the left are hyperventilating over Palin's responses on NATO. Obviously, they do not understand the basics of the Treaty.

Patrick O'Hannigan does not trust Charlie Gibson's objectivity.

But a week ago, Charles Krauthammer wrote that Palin could only help McCain if she pulled an "Obama." My how time flys. Now, a week later, Mr. Krauthammer that she in fact is pulling an Obama.


A Nana for sanity said...

I cannot believe how offensive "Charlie" was. His body language said, I do not believe you know anything and are really stupid in taking this chance.

OMG, why couldn't he ask Mr. O the same questions with the same attitude instead of placating "the One".

I also noticed that there were no, uh, uh, well, uh, in anything she said. She is one heck of a woman and really coming up to speed. Since Mr. O has even less experience (he is a political campaigner), we ought to get the same questions asked to him.

reading_closely said...

"I concur with his analysis. WaPo is claiming that Palin tied the decision to go into Iraq with the assertion that there was a tie-in prewar between al Qaeda and Iraq. She never says that, either during the interview above nor in her speech to deploying troops."

Your quote above and the WaPo quotes below. They never claimed a prewar tie in, they suggested she made a lnk between the two events and she did just that, made a link. Her words....

Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 In Talk to Troops in Alaska

"defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.

"America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before September 11, 2001," she said at the deployment ceremony

This is hardly a smear.

GW said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting all.

Reading Closely - I am not sure what I am missing here. Here is what WaPo writes:

Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."

The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. . . .


That seems to me to go far beyond what Gov. Palin said. There is no question that al Qaeda appeared in Iraq after we invaded. In that regard, Palin's quote is accurate. WaPo is going beyond that by bringing up Saddam Hussein in language to suggest that Palin was tieing Hussein into the 9-11 attacks. Perhaps it is just a very poorly written article on their part. But I cannot see something that deceptive passing both a writer and a clueless editor.

reading_closely said...

Agreed, the next graph was poorly argued and did go beyond what Gov. Palin said.

An alternate follow-up graph would ask the question as to whether her comments could be interpreted as reviving a questionable link between Iraq and 9/11.

Shirley Vandever said...

Great post, and the most unbiased and nonpartisan analysis I have seen so far, bar none.

I give her interview a "C+".

Scott said...

Actually, I think it is best for McCain/Palin that Sarah did not ace the interview. Had she aced it, Gibson would have been accused of feeding softball questions, and the jury would still be out on her ability to deal with tough questions.

Instead, Gibson asked tough questions, somewhat unfair, but not overwhelmingly gotcha. So far, the questions has gotten more attention than the answers. The fact that part of the prayer question was scrubbed from the official release gives the appearance of a cover-up, and reinforces the MSM support for Obama. As reported by Patterico, even the LATimes is calling foul on this one. So points for us.

Palin serves the most important role in the campaign so far, that of lightning rod. And she has attracted lighting to the nth degree. Obama looks week, the sympathy for Palin grows, and it looks like Republicans have a chance.

Here is how I read the impact of the interview.

MSNBC has one small link about the interview on their website "below the fold", as it were.

AP has a single link about Palin, and it's about global warming.

Reuters has nothing of importance about the interview.

If these people aren't sliming her, she did pretty well.

UliPele said...

I have a tribute to Sarah Palin I thought you might enjoy (seriously).

Don't forget about Sen. Obama's bachelors -- he double major in poli sci and iNTERNATIONAL RELATIONS. Oh, and being a constitutional law professor at one of the country's toughest law schools indicates to me that Sem Obama has a deep understanding of the foundational documents that lead to democracy.

Heaven forfend we have elect and intellectual person to office who actually understand .......... things!

Ted Leddy said...

I generally agree with your assessment of the interview, except when you say Obama has never faced such tough questions. Maybe you didn't see his interview with O'Reilly. Otherwise I think she was not bad, but will have to improve.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi GW,
I think Sarah Palin did just fine, in spite of Gibson's `tude and ABC's obvious editing to take crucial answers out of context.

He ought to be embarrased for himself

Let's also not accept for granted that there was no al-Qaeda presence in Iraq until after we invaded,though it certainly ramped up after that. Both Zarqawi and Imad Mugniyeh visited Saddam's Iraq numerous times,(and I doubt they were there for the baklavah), there was what amounted to a terrorist training camp located at SalPak outside of Baghdad complete with a mock up of a 747 and there were a lot of murky contacts that still aren't fully understood in context.

There's also a certain amount of evidence that Saddam may have had something to do with the 1992 WTC bombing. Ramzy Youseff,the mastermind behind that operation was also on Iraq's payroll as an intelligence officer,an dwhen he was caught in the Philippines,his computer actually held plans for using domestic hijacked aircraft for terrorist attacks.

All best,

Anonymous said...

"It was certainly exponentially tougher than anything the press has given to Obama."??

Its only going to get tougher and tougher for Palin.