Saturday, September 13, 2008

Palin & The Bush Doctrine

A lot of people have risen in spirited defense of Gov. Sarah Palin's apparent ignorance of the meaning of the term "Bush doctrine" in the interview with Charlie Gibson yesterday. Two of this number include Michael Abramowitz and the man who coined the term, "Bush doctrine," Charles Krauthammer, both of whom point to Charlie Gibson as the one confused on this issue, in addition to being condescending and snobbish.

This from Charles Krauthammer writing in the Washington Post:

"At times visibly nervous . . . Ms. Palin most visibly stumbled when she was asked by Mr. Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. Ms. Palin did not seem to know what he was talking about. Mr. Gibson, sounding like an impatient teacher, informed her that it meant the right of 'anticipatory self-defense.' "

-- New York Times, Sept. 12

Informed her? Rubbish.

The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.

He asked Palin, "Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?"

She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."

It's not. It's the third in a series and was superseded by the fourth and current definition of the Bush doctrine, the most sweeping formulation of the Bush approach to foreign policy and the one that most clearly and distinctively defines the Bush years: the idea that the fundamental mission of American foreign policy is to spread democracy throughout the world. It was most dramatically enunciated in Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

. . . Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what it is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.

Read the entire article. Michael Abramowitz has a similar defense of Gov. Palin in WaPo.

In the end, this appears to be much ado about nothing, even though the left are making it into a cause celebre. It does not matter whether Gov. Palin was completely ignorant of the term "Bush doctrine" or merely unsure of the dimensions of Charlie Gibson's question. What matters is how Gov. Palin views the distinct elements of the Bush doctrine, not whether she knows what elements are rolled up into that word. In other words, I want to know whether Gov. Palin thinks we have a right to conduct preemptive attacks - she does - and not whether she knows that is what Charles Gibson is trying to ask her when he says "Bush doctrine." Obama does not believe in preemptive strikes though he likely knows what the "Bush doctrine" is. What more could prove my point.


Ymarsakar said...

She caught the trap. She was waiting for him to refine his attack. Only then can you crush an opponent decisively, if you aren't as fast as he is. And since Palin won't be as fast as the media, for she cannot defend herself against all the charges of the media as fast as they can make it, Palin must get a good sense of their plans ahead of time.

If an enemy army is on the horizon, the first step is to find out more about it. Not rush around trying to stutter and evade.

Jason B said...

That's odd - both Obama and McCain agreed with the NYT definition when they held forth in the NH debates in Jan 2008. Where's your evidence that the doctrine has changed? And if that's the current incarnation of the doctrine, where is our military intervention in Darfur?