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Thursday, September 11, 2008

What I Didn’t See (or Read) in the Palin Interview

posted by on September 11 at 17:35 PM

No campaign-derailing mistake. No smoking gaffe.

Yes, she sort of threatened war with Russia. But people (conservative people, especially) love that, otherwise McCain wouldn’t have been getting all Cold War retro himself lately with his own tough talk on Russia. And what she demonstrated in that answer was a basic knowledge of how NATO works, which, relative to what some expected her to know, is a lot.

Sure, Palin also gave a blank stare when asked to articulate the Bush doctrine. But she dodged effectively enough, never admitted any ignorance, and closed by talking tough—which, again, certain people seem to love coming from her.

And yes, Palin had little to offer when asked about her national security credentials. But she did offer something—her limited experience working on energy issues in Alaska—and pushed back politely but forcefully at Charlie Gibson’s implication that she really didn’t have any national security cred to speak of.

No one who follows politics and international relations closely would think this was a convincing performance.

But, at this point, the election is not about people who follow politics and international relations closely. Those people have already made up their minds. The election right now, and for the next two months, is about the “undecideds.” These people can probably be swayed by crystal clear gaffes captured on camera, but there weren’t any such gaffes in this interview, as far as I can tell. For the undecided crowd—an admittedly low bar—Palin gave a good, or good enough, performance.

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Two words for the Obama campaign: Daisy Ad.

Posted by Original Andrew | September 11, 2008 5:46 PM

One press interview to go, hundreds more to go before November! Are Palin's tutors up to the task?

Posted by Bub | September 11, 2008 5:48 PM

You must think the undecideds are idiots... I wouldn't say you'd need to closely follow politics and international relations to know that this is a woman who is making up in confidence what she lacks in intelligence. But hopefully Charlie Gibson will really get her tomorrow by telling her that her epidermis is showing.

Posted by Mike K. | September 11, 2008 5:50 PM

She lacks experience, not intelligence.

Posted by watcher | September 11, 2008 5:55 PM

Eli, you have been wasting your time commenting on the reporting of others or posting the rumors or gossip of others. Are there no stories for you to report? Are you that blocked up? I have an idea for you. Richard Lee says on his website that SCAN censors KCWM. What's up with that? Eli, you're welcome.

Posted by Danisparanoidandhysterical | September 11, 2008 6:00 PM

You are naive to think it is about undecided voters.

This election and most high profile elections such as the presidential election are not about undecided voters. Studies have been run that show most people who have even the slightest interest in a race have already decided.,0,2284725.story

The rest of the way out it is all about turnout and new voters. If someone makes a gaffe it isn't going to motivate voters to swing the other way, it's going to motivate people (especially those barely invested) on the same side to lose confidence in their own candidate. And NOT VOTE.

You think and write about Obama or McCain being vulnerable, not being an attractive candidate, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by grizzly bear | September 11, 2008 6:12 PM

I can't take her speaking voice, even for a second. I know it's what she was born with, but it's awful. When she gives speeches, she makes me feel like my alcoholic aunt - that doesn't leave the couch to bark orders at you no matter how far away from her in the house you are - is yelling at me. I can't actually think of a more irritating voice from a politician, or anyone on television. To that effect, I hope America gets to hear more and more of it.

You know, the GOP will probably keep drilling us with this "Governor Palin is pushing for a pipeline" business until it starts to sounds vaguely like "lower gas prices" to voters.

Posted by Dougsf | September 11, 2008 6:20 PM

On the other hand, I think there are a lot of people who are leaning towards McCain over Obama because of his supposed foreign policy expertise, and who will horrified by the thought of a foreign-policy-ignoramus as VP.

Posted by akb | September 11, 2008 6:27 PM

Wow, Eli, that may be the first post of yours whose every syllable I agree with. People should not count on an opinion-changing gaffe. @3 Sarah Palin passes the Dubya bar.

We should demand why McCain and Palin want to continue Bush's failed policies on the economy, Iraq, health care, etc. and leave it to them to clarify. Make them play defense.

Posted by chicagogaydude | September 11, 2008 7:08 PM

Bush Doctrine: I thought that was a low blow because it's not really a well defined term yet, just something that pundits throw around do describe anything that Bush might do. I thought Gibson played it like "oh, she doesn't know what it is" but her first response was asking for clarification of what part of it he was asking about.

Favorite part: When he asked her about visiting foreign countries she said Mexico and Canada. I actually give points for this type of response, because if the Bush Doctrine is anything its a de-wonkification of college style analysis of our enemies. The Bush Doctrine is: Shi'ites? Sunnis? Who's whoever is shooting at us!

Posted by John Bailo | September 11, 2008 7:18 PM

@9 is right on every count: both to the fact of Eli's cogent analysis, and that R's need to be out on their back heel. Now.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | September 11, 2008 7:18 PM

And here I thought it was all about paperless ballot machines - the one with the most diebold machines wins!*

* Valid only in select battleground states. Democratic candidates are ineligible. Votes filled by diebold machines are subject recount. Recount subject to give exactly same paperless results.

Posted by Sad Comment | September 11, 2008 7:22 PM

Rocket J. McCain gets some help from his friend Sarahwinkle:

Posted by John Bailo | September 11, 2008 7:35 PM

I don't know. I'm not sure that that many hockey moms are going to be too thrilled with Palin's promise of World War IV over Georgia. Sounded like another "Bomb Iran" to me- because it was.

Posted by Demolator | September 11, 2008 7:38 PM

Why yes it's not about the likes of Capitol Hill denizens....nor the liberals who seem to make up about 35-45% of the ppopulation in the USA...haven't you been reading my posts the last 6 months?

It's about swing voters, those who vote for a D OR an R in different elections.

And yes, Palin passes the bar. Few people have EVER voted against someone because they had a dumbass for VP -- remember Nixon? Bush I?

Meanwhile, Mr. Bailo is dead wrong. Shockingly ignorant. Makes sense, becuase if he understood the Bush doctrine, he'd have to defend it and it is indefensible.

Here it is.

Normally, that is pre 0-11, you only attacked another country for self defense if they posed an imminent threat. And your attack had to be proportionate and reasonable. That was the stated policiy of most every country, that's international law, and yes some don't oberserve it just like some don't observe murder laws, so so what?

Attacking someone who harbors terrorists falls within this if their threat is imminent etc.

But the Bush doctrine changed this to allow and demand an attack if there was ANY CHANCE that a nation would one day possibly assist another nation or another group to attack us. For example, (Iraq is bad, (b) they coudl be lying about WMDm (c) one day they might give WMD or nukes to Al Q. (d) then it will be too late for us to attack Al Q (e) therefore it is okay if we attack iraq NOW.

So by the same logic it would also be okay to attack Russia now....Iran now.....Yemen now... etc. etc. There is no end to the list of folks it is okay to attack under the Bush doctrine, which basically rewrote all of the international law of self defense that built up over the centuries since Grotius.

Here's why the Bush doctrine is dumb:

(a) that nation (eg Iraq) might NOT attack you
(b) attacking it might make it MORE LIKELY NOT LESS LIKELY that it or others will attack you
(c) this is an inherenetly impossible rule for all the world to live by, because it means Iram (for example) coudl attack us because we MIGHT attack them some pretty much everyone can attack everyone......

Other scenarios are easily imaginable.

There's also the problem that if you spend your next $11 billion chasing a merely potential threat, instead of containing it the way we had contained Iraq, then you weaken your economy and your army as well as provoking all the bad impacts listed above.

Palin incorrectly said the Bush doctrine is you attack those who pose an imminent threat. While this is a sound policy and not at all sabre rattling the way the ultra lefties might think, it is the opposite of the Bush doctrine which does away with the imminence requirement.

For example, under the Bush Doctrine I could go down to Slog happy hour and take a swing at pretty much anyone....because they MIGHT attack me........


but under the Palin rule, which is the same as int'l law pretty much as well as the overall policy of FDR JFK etc. I have to wait till I see them making a fist and drawing back their hand......

JFK is a really good example, he held back an actual attack even though those missiles were being placed in Cuba.

This explanation is all in the book by Richard Clark. They actually said they are justified in attacking a nation if there is only a 10% chance the nation will attack us or help someone else attack they felt justifying attacking every god dammed nation in the middle east and their whole doctrine in fact made it more likely other nations would hate us and attack us so it's a self fulfilling prophecy.

Now Mr. Bailo you may disagree with me here or there but to say there is no Bush doctrine is esxceedingly ill informed, at best.

Posted by PC | September 11, 2008 7:55 PM

And here I thought John Bailo and PC were the same person!

Posted by Jennifer | September 11, 2008 8:07 PM


Bullshit. The Bush Doctrine is synonymous with "pre-emptive invasion" which was the fundamental debate about Iraq in 2002.

Clear as day.

And she didn't know what it meant. Tells me three things:

1) She didn't follow the policy debate about Iraq in 2002.

2) She hasn't been briefed on that debate.

3) John McCain found that acceptable.

It's all about McCain: he picked someone UTTERLY unaware of foreign policy, on the assumption that he needed no help in that area, and that could leave us with an uninformed and incurious person in the WH.

And McCain doesn't give a shit.

Posted by Shorter PC | September 11, 2008 8:26 PM

Screw real quotes. My fake Palin quotes got me:

1. Viral
2. An interview on CNN: Anderson Cooper 360 the night before last
3. Matt Damon ranting and bringing up the whole dinosaurs of 4000 years old thing I did.
4. Same as 3 except in Maureen Dowd today.


Posted by Bob | September 11, 2008 8:51 PM

@18 Wow, Bob. I'm not sure whether to be impressed or horrified, but um congratulations!

Posted by PopTart | September 11, 2008 9:04 PM

I think it's kind of a mix, myself, but I guess we all get our 15.

Posted by Bob | September 11, 2008 9:09 PM

@14: Goddamn right we should go to war with Russia over an invasion of Georgia. Hell, I'd go to war with Russia over an invasion of Alabama. McCain/Palin '08!

Posted by kk | September 11, 2008 9:18 PM

What are you doing to make your neighbour aware of the huge threat Palin/McCain are to every living being in the world?

Posted by megs | September 11, 2008 9:24 PM

I don't think that I know the undecided, but growing up a conservative Christian makes me certain that masses of those types of voters will overlook her inadequacies — even see her lack of experience as an advantage — as long as she continues to seem like someone who believes like they do. Their capacity to forgive her will only be surpassed by their earnest prayers for her divine guidance. Apparently, their lack of support for McCain has been replaced by zeal for Palin.

Posted by beneluxboy | September 11, 2008 9:27 PM

I'm just sorry that Divine is dead. She would have been perfect to play Sarah in the Sarah Palin biopic. After all, only John Waters could do justice to this story.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | September 11, 2008 9:51 PM

I think Eli's right that Palin didn't suffer an utter meltdown, but she also didn't do particularly well, either. But more importantly, I think you're seeing a narrative of this campaign starting to develop. In 2000, it was that Gore stretched the truth. In 2004, it was that Kerry was out of touch. And this year, it's that McCain and Palin are liars and/or unprepared.

In '00 and '04 the narratives weren't true, and this year it happens to be, but what's important is that it's developing. None of what McCain's been throwing up against Obama has stuck to him the way things did to Gore and Kerry. This is critical.

Posted by Bax | September 11, 2008 10:05 PM

she is a politician. she's not dumb. she dodged & filibustered competently. but she's not really pleasant to look at, and there was no warmth at all. her voice hurts my ears.

even though she'll lose this time, murka is so fucking stupid that she has a legitimate shot in 2016 to lead the GOP ticket.

she's a cornpone fascist who's ignorant of her own ignorance.

Posted by max solomon | September 11, 2008 10:10 PM

@10 (crazy John):

"[the Bush Doctrine is] not really a well defined term yet, just something that pundits throw around do describe anything that Bush might do."

haha. dude. maybe your Kent buddies are idiots and buy your lines, but others aren't.

that term has been fairly well defined and is a term used by THE HIGHEST LEVELS of the government.

for example:

"The Bush Doctrine asserts that states supporting terrorists, or providing sanctuary for terrorists, will be deemed just as guilty of crimes as the terrorists themselves. (Applause.) If there is anyone in the world today who doubts the seriousness of the Bush Doctrine, I would urge that person to consider the fate of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. (Applause.)" - the current VP at a U.S. Military Academy Commencement.

If you're still unclear, perhaps start at

Posted by stinkbug | September 11, 2008 10:11 PM

I agree with everyone who says Palin's voice is horrific. Every time I hear it, I feel like one of the infected in _28_Days_Later_.

Posted by Big Sven | September 11, 2008 10:15 PM

Sarah Palin is the HR Director who started out as the receptionist, and listened in on everyone's calls.

She was the one who got promoted because everyone was afraid she'd sue if she didn't get the job.

Posted by Sarah Palin is a bitch | September 11, 2008 10:49 PM

All the "undecideds" I know were really hoping to vote Republican, and Palin just pushed them right in that direction... And why? Honestly, I think it's because she's hot. A lot of the "undecideds" I know are Iraq vets, or wanabes, and think the war is fucked up, but are nationalistic enough to want to vote Republican. Palin has definitely energized this demographic.

Because I mean, really, she is pretty freakin' hot.

Posted by Justin | September 11, 2008 11:28 PM

Sarah Palin: The poster child for upwardly failing employees everywhere.

Her performance in this interview wasn't "good enough." I beg to differ. As I said in another slog post, it was obvious from her answers that she had crammed the night before, so to speak, and was bullshitting her way through. It is a laughable performance that only her peers in abject idiocy would approve of.

I love the part where Gibson asks, "Didn't it take some hubris" to accept the nomination, despite your lack of credentials?

And she responds with some crap about never blinking. We must not blink in these times of war and strife. We must not blink!

She better not blink because if she does she'll miss her 15 minutes of fame that ends in November.

Posted by doctiloquus | September 11, 2008 11:32 PM

Let me just say one thing.



Stop giving her a pass.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 11, 2008 11:41 PM

whycome when obama said he wants to push pakistan harder, bush had to call musharraf and apologize? did he call everyone in russia to say palin was just kidding?

Posted by teddy b | September 12, 2008 12:05 AM

For those of you who don't know how to read a transcript, Palin DID NOT define the Bush doctrine in the interview (perhaps because she did not know what it was).

But Gibson (and an awful lot of internet bloggers) also have no idea what the Bush Doctrine is and what International Law is. As far as what International Law is, at least as far back as Hugo Grotius in "On the Rights of War and Peace" (1625), at Book 2, Chapter, 1, Section 5, pre-emptive war was justified if the threat was clear and imminent. That was exaclty the position Palin advocated. If that's all the Bush doctrine was, then the Bush Doctrine would be nothing new (pre-emptive strikes being used by other nations at least as far back as by Scotland in the Bishops' Wars of 1639-1640 and in the last century by Israel in the Six Days War of 1967).

What was supposed to be new about the Bush doctrine is that the threat did NOT have to be imminent (Iraq may have been thought to be a threat to attack the U.S. down the road, but it was not a threat to attack the U.S. at the time of the invasion). But if Palin did not know what the Bush Doctrine was, then since Gibson and a high percentage of internet bloggers also have no clue what the Bush Doctrine is, I think that makes the case that she made no important gaffes in the interview.

If anyone was making Gaffes in the interview it was Gibson in being unprepared and not knowing the answer to his own "gotcha" question.

Posted by Ed Rae | September 12, 2008 7:43 AM

@31: i thought Gibson used "hubris" wrong in that question. she would have SHOWED hubris by accepting (and she did), but it took COJONES. never mind that she doesn't know what hubris means, she's not capable of self-reflection because it acknowledges weakness.

witness the "never blink" response - it is typical daddy-culture paternalistic macho BS that she & her party are infected with.

George Lakoff, save us!

Posted by max solomon | September 12, 2008 9:00 AM

Basically, the GOP is doomed. And if we're stupid enough to let them steal this election, we're doomed too.

Posted by Greg | September 12, 2008 9:13 AM

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