Friday, September 12, 2008

Comments on Sarah Palin Interview

She didn't do a horrible job, but definitely didn't hit the ball out of the park. The partisan right is on the defensive on this one, blaming Charlie Gibson and the "leftist" media for the weak performance. The partisan left, on the other hand, is going to view this interview as clear indication that she doesn't know what she's talking about (as if a good performance would have changed their minds).

One of the main problems, though, was the fact that the McCain campaign shielded her from the media for two weeks, which indicates that she's not ready for the office on day one. So its no surprise that Gibson made this the focus of his interview. Her fairly canned responses didn't indicate to me that she has thought in an independent fashion about many of these questions.

Where all the questions fair? Not really. The one about the "Bush Doctrine" seemed to me to be problematic, for example. There are two ways to look at it:

  1. It could be seen as a "gotcha" question - where Gibson poses it to embarrass Palin, implicature being: "What, you don't know what the Bush Doctrine is?" As if we all do or should. I keep up a fair bit with politics, and I have admittedly heard the phrase before, but when he posed the question I wasn't sure what he was referring to. I would also be caught off-guard if someone asked me about the "Powell Doctrine" or the "Clinton Doctrine" as well.
  2. It could also be seen as a "insider-baseball" question. This is how I read it. But obviously on this interpretation it is not exactly fair - because, as everyone already knows, SHE IS NOT A WASHINGTON INSIDER. It takes a while to get accustomed to any insider language game.
Either way, there is a lot of catching up for her to do.

The only other question that really interested me was the one about whether or not she had any doubts or self-doubts about her ability to handle the responsibilities of the vice-presidency. Her response was, basically, that she had "no doubts". Now maybe from a campaign and leadership perspective, this was the answer she should have given. I don't know, but that doesn't really interest me (though it is certainly relevant). What I care about more a matter of honesty, and self-honesty in particular. Anyone who doesn't have doubts doesn't know what they are in for. Someone without doubts has either got to have huge blinders or a very simple view of the world. It is, as Gibson rightly noted, a matter of "hubris". She ought to have had doubts about this tiny little inteview, let alone... THE VICE-PRESIDENCY.

Sarah Palin ABC Interview Charles Gibson

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