Friday, September 12, 2008

Too Doctrinaire

Isn't the tempest over Sarah Palin's response to Charlie Gibson's now-famous question a bit much? When asked if she agrees with "the Bush Doctrine" she responded, "In what respect, Charlie?" My own answer would have been quite similar. The defining characteristic of our foreign policy debacle is that there is no coherent "doctrine" -- just a loose set of ad hoc justifications and revolving platitudes, underpinned by false pretenses and marked by occasional bursts of wild-eyed bluster. Trying to jam that mess into a pithy phrase isn't easy, as this source demonstrates.

There's a lot about Palin to both like and not like (and, based on previews of the Gibson interview, some things that are more troubling than the doctrine issue). And as I've said, I think it's important that McCain is defeated in November. But I wonder how much good it will do to pick over Palin's every word during the next seven weeks and reflexively exclaim "See, inexperience!" -- especially on something like Gibson's question, which probably nine out of ten voters would have answered with a question of their own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the merits, but right now I'm too worried that she might be elected to concern myself about whether she's being treated fairly on this.

We're quickly approaching an environmental and economic catastrophe, but no one seems to care because America has fallen in love with this middle aged beauty queen.

I would prefer it if she lost popularity because of her cavalier dismissal of global warming, or because of her blatant lying about her record. But if she goes down because she failed some trivial media pop quiz, I'll breathe easier.

-- Carl

9/12/2008 4:03 AM  
Blogger Toby said...

What's "fair"? She flunked the question.

There were other vulnerabilities... global warming? Clueless, her response was hedged and rote-learned.

Between this and the next exercpts, there is a target-rich environment for Obama. The more she comes out of the protective shell the Republicans have thrown around her, the more she exposes herself to effective potshots.

Overall, "ditzy" is the word I'd use to describe her performance. BTW, men can also be ditzy (lightweight, bubbly, airheaded, flaky, a touch of wildness, not the sort of person you'd give the nuclear codes to).

9/12/2008 5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I disagree.

The Bush Doctrine, however vague or ill defined, is a significant departure from the foreign policy stance that has guided U.S. foreign relations since the onset of the Cold War. What were once viewed as "rogue states" are now viewed as threats and, therefore, potential military targets if the U.S. perceives the state and its activities as a serious threat. It places U.S. security above the sovereignty of other nations.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Bush Doctrine is irrelevant as far as Palin's interview is concerned. But she answered the question as though she had never contemplated her stance on the most significant change in U.S. foreign relations in over 60 years. Even if we give her the benefit of the doubt and say she knew what the Bush Doctrine was when asked, it was clear to many that she had never contemplated its significance or her opinion of it.

From where I'm standing, that speaks volumes.

9/12/2008 6:54 AM  
Blogger blogarillo said...

A Republican running for the second highest-office in the land should have at least heard of the term. Whether she agreed with the definition or concept is an entirely different matter, but she should have at least been familiar with the words "Bush Doctrine". When she finally figured out what Gibson was getting after her response had an unhinged quality worthy of Ann Coulter.

9/12/2008 8:06 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

"Nine out of ten voters" are not running for vice-president.

9/12/2008 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:45 AM (cont'd)

If my friends and acquaintances can have a casual conversation about the rightness or wrongness of the Bush Doctrine around the water cooler (however basic that conversation might be), including its historical and political significance, then a vice-presidential candidate should, at least, know the verbiage that totes her party's line on the matter, or be able to verbalize the obvious difference of opinion among well informed and well meaning people in Washington and elsewhere.

I know several people personally who have phrased better responses to this question, and they're not running for vice president. I mean, this was big-time news seven years ago, an issue of the times surrounding 9/11. I would like to think Palin, and others who aspire to national office, would have thought seriously about the matter.

"That's a good question, and with the recent developments in Georgia, we need to better define those principles that drive U.S. foreign relations. Like many of the Bush policies that McCain and I hope to address, I suspect the Bush Doctrine will receive a complete review. The Bush Doctrine was largely accepted by the American people seven years ago. It might need some refinements in light of recent developments."

If I can type that with hardly thinking about it, Palin should be able to do better.

9/12/2008 8:29 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

We might not have coherent tactics or carry out coherent plans, but the Doctrine is a set thing - official National Security Strategy. That the Republican nominee for Vice President wouldn't seem to even be aware of the National Security Strategy of the current Republican president (and which has existed for several years) suggests a stunning lack of knowledge about US foreign policy and current security debates.

9/12/2008 9:18 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/12/2008 9:20 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

At one point during her response to the question, she said "mistakes have been made." I certainly wish that Gibson had followed up on that issue.

9/12/2008 9:21 AM  
Blogger Ahistoricality said...

Sure, she stumbled for a bit, and it was telling, since foreign policy is supposed to be the centerpiece of this campaign. That's one point against.

The blatant dodge -- seen by interviewers public and private the world over and immediately recognizable -- loses another point.

Worse, though, once she actually knew what the question meant, she parroted memorized phrases, tripped over relatively simple aspects of the question, dodged again to avoid a tough follow-up, then came out with an answer that's actually closer to Obama's position and phrasing than McCain's.

Sound the buzzer, send in the ref: the round is over.

9/12/2008 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Well, as Tony said above, nine out of ten viewers aren't running for VP.

Beyond that, her response did not answer the question. She said that the US as a right to defend itself against an imminent threat, but the BD sets the bar much lower, just the threat of attack. There's a world of difference between "we're attacking you b/c your troops are on the march" and "we're attacking you b/c some day you might threaten us." She either doesn't understand that, was unwilling to stand up for it, or doesn't agree but didn't want to say so explicitly.

9/12/2008 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave and Tony, those nine out of ten voters might not be running for VP, but they ARE voting for VP. How THEY perceive and react to stuff like this is what matters, at least in terms of who will be running the country soon.

9/12/2008 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Space Cynic said...

I don't know much about accounting or medicine, but i damn well expect my accountant and doctor to know their respective fields.

It doesn't matter if a voter can articulate a clear response to a question on policy - someone claiming to be ready to be VP, and one faltering heartbeat away from the Presidency better be able to.

Palin is just a Caribou Barbie doll chosen to distract the masses. But it's not going to work.

9/12/2008 10:16 AM  
Anonymous N999 said...

economic yes, pollution yes, warming? Prove it and review all the facts and studies. There is nothing conclusive that warming is taking place. Ice caps are shriking nut land glaciers are getting larger. The world is in a cycle, oh by the way lack there of sunspots will even cause the earth to cool more.

I enjoy how everyone had to find something to tear up the vp pick. Can't admit it is a good story. Let's focus on the cadidates. I am independant and neither have sold me but I am objective to both. It seems there is liberal biased or conservative rightness.

It is dissapointing to read some of these comments, ignorance.

9/12/2008 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

After watching the video, I think she came across as lightweight. She didn't display any thoughtfulness or a real grasp of the issue. I don't think it is a matter of inexperience. It is a matter of depth.

9/12/2008 11:10 AM  
Anonymous A Historian said...

TCR, 9 out of 10 people couldn't explain basic monetary policy. You wouldn't want one of them to be in line to become chairman of the Fed, would you?

As for global warming, there is plenty of evidence that it is occurring. n999 says there is "nothing conclusive." Well, he's right. And along those lines, there is nothing conclusive that drunk driving is dangerous (maybe people who get drunk are naturally bad drivers). There is nothing conclusive that germs cause disease, as opposed to miasmas in the air. (Maybe the disease causes the germs, or the germs are there coincidently). And for that matter, there is nothing conclusive that the earth goes around the sun either. In fact, that last one defies common sense: Clearly the sun is moving across the sky while the earth is standing still. Duh!

Now excuse me, I have to go to my Flat Earth Society meeting.

9/12/2008 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

n999, let's not turn this thread into a warming denialist war. The consensus among climate scientists is that global warming is taking place and that it is, to a large extent, being caused by human activity.

Now, that doesn't mean every single scientist under every rock in the world agrees. But the consensus of people "skilled in the art" is that it is happening.

The fact that GW is happening doesn't necessarily mean that every policy option articulated to address it makes sense.

But, we absolutely positively need to stop electing people to the highest offices in this land who do not believe in science. This is important.

- Whammer

9/12/2008 11:32 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Liberals playling the gotcha game...That has been a losing strategy the last 2 presidential elections. If the dems want to win they need to attack the republicans moral character as often or more often than the republicans attack theirs. Their is plenty of dirt on McCain. The democrats should be bashing McCain endlessly. Pointy headed babble on TV is completely pointless. It is effective Campaign comercials that swing the voting population. Having Obama blabbing about the success of the surge was the stupidest thing I've seen the Democrats do so far in this election. If I was McCain I would have immediately made that into a TV commercial. The masses do not think. They are moved by emotions and fears. Fear dominates, emotions second, logical thinking third. This is the way the world works. Everything else is BS. Their is plenty to scare the public over about McCain. Dems need to get to it if they want to win.

9/12/2008 11:41 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Instead of agreeing with Sarah Palin (Biden is foaming at the mouth to start a war with Russia) the democrats could have revised a version of LBJs nuke comercial. I mean do you really think the average American wants to risk nuclear war over Georgia? No matter how much propaganda our masters shove down our throats! One good campaign comercial there and the voters would be running to the Dems. Like they did for LBJ. Sadly though...there is not a dimes worth of difference...IMO. I don't think a McCain presidency will be any worse than a Obama presidency myself. In fact in some ways it will be better. I think more of the world turns away from us if we have a McCain presidency. If Obama wins the illusion of change may help turn that around. The world should turn away from us though. We are monsters.

9/12/2008 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are giving her too much credit. Don't assume she knows as much as you.

With regards to foreign policy, she is in a bind. On one hand she knows nothing and is interested is nothing but she has to respond and in such a way as to look like she does but without answer in such a way as to get boxed in.

The thing was her answer was not so much an answer as a misdirect (or a hopeful one). She didn't know enough of what Gibson was talking about to answer the question so she used a question to try and figure out what Gibson was asking and try to get it directed in such a way that she could answer a question in the way she wanted.

Lots of people have pro, con, confused, ambiguous feelings on the "Bush Doctrine" and would have a hard time answering the question - but they aren't running for VP.

9/12/2008 12:03 PM  
Blogger phillybikeboy said...

I don't believe anyone seriously gave her cred on foreign policy, but I would like to see McCain's claim that, "She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America" put to the test. Sure, she knows oil comes from the ground and flows through pipelines, but does she know how global energy markets work? How monetary policy effects the price of oil? Her assertion that we can drill our way out of our problem suggests that she really doesn't have a clue. Of course, I suspect there are few in the mainstream media that understand the issues well enough to ask the right questions....

9/12/2008 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Bush or anyone in the administration ever call anything "The Bush Doctrine"? Or was that a tagline the media created?

9/12/2008 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The telling part wasn't the "in what respect?" -- it was the awkward pause that preceded it.

9/12/2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

n999, If you think global warming is a hoax, that's fine. You might be interested in some prudent advice from Thomas Friedman on Meet the Press this past Sunday: "What I say is if climate change is a hoax, it's the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the United States of America. Because everything we would do to get ready for climate change, to build this new green industry, would make us more respected, more entrepreneurial, more competitive, more healthy as a country."

9/12/2008 2:01 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said... are taking advice from Tom Friedman? My advise to the opposite of whatever Friedman tells you to do. You can't go wrong. On an intesting note...Silber has been writing well again. I think the dude is crazy but he occasionally snaps out of it and begins thinking clearly again. Always a good read when he is writing well.

9/12/2008 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

goldhorder, Do you have a substantive objection to Friedman's take on the hoax? If so, what would it be?

9/12/2008 4:56 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

When Tom Friedman says anything of substance. Than I will offer a substantive objection. Tom Friedman is the King of Main Stream Public Opinion. Which ever way the tide is going...that is where you will find Tom Friedman. Mouthing empty platitudes and feel good nonsense. The man is not worthy of the effort of this post.

9/12/2008 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

goldhorder, I think you need to take Friedman's arguments on its own merits, not simply attack the messenger. I understand how attacking the messenger has some appeal in this case, however.

But drastically reducing our dependence on oil has a lot of goodness attached. I'm all for it.

- Whammer

9/12/2008 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

phillybikeboy, you are 100% correct -- Palin knows more about energy than anyone in the United States?

More than the CEOs of the major oil companies? More than, gasp, DICK CHENEY???

More than, say, me, who at least has a college degree in an energy-related field?

I must say that I am by no means an energy policy expert, but I don't think it would be too hard to run circles around Sarah Palin in an energy discussion.

And I hate to say it, but I'm not sure it would be hard to run circles around her in a discussion about Russia, even though you can't see Russia from where I live........

- Whammer

9/12/2008 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The world should turn away from us though. We are monsters."

Goldhorder, are we monsters or if the world turns (further) away from us the price of gold will rise ?

9/12/2008 8:16 PM  
Anonymous judyo said...

Just to be sure, there's a coordinated caging effort afoot. Three states so far - Wisconsin, Michigan & Mississippi.
Just the tip of the iceberg.


9/12/2008 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Devoman said...

Anonymous at 1:24 PM asks:
Did Bush or anyone in the administration ever call anything "The Bush Doctrine"?

Dick Cheney used the term at least twice; see and

Quote from the 1st reference:
"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."

If you'd like to learn more about the Bush Doctrine see here:

9/12/2008 11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anne Laurie said...

The defining characteristic of our foreign policy debacle is that there is no coherent "doctrine" -- just a loose set of ad hoc justifications and revolving platitudes, underpinned by false pretenses and marked by occasional bursts of wild-eyed bluster.

Yes, and anyone who's had to live with a four-year-old should be familiar with the time-honored "Because I *wanna*, and yoooouuu can't *stop* me!!!" argument.

Of course, the parents of actual four-year-olds are inclined to treat this particular line of discussion with a time-out, which would conflict with Gov. Hockey Mom's new electoral ambitions.

9/13/2008 2:46 AM  
Blogger Spider said...

This is the best retort (quote) I've seen in response to Palin's interview. It is taken from the forums over at Republicans for Obama

Pressed about what insights into recent Russian actions she gained by living in Alaska, Palin answered: “They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”

In response, forum member Krista said: And when I look out my window I can see the moon. Doesn’t make me a fucking astronaut now, does it?


9/13/2008 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any comments on Pat Buchanan's take on Palin?

9/13/2008 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bush Doctrine" = "Preemptive War"

"Say anything and use what sticks", isn't that what Wolfowitz's said about the 10's of reasons why we diverted resources from Afghanistan. Lie to take a country to war. Manipulate intelligence. Invoke executive privilege often, and after you sign a law, always make sure to use a Signing Statement to exempt you and your cronies.

Spin baby, spin. Secrecy. Propaganda. Do as much as you can behind the American people's back, and when that doesn't work create a situation or a nice little news snippet. Use fear. Doesn't matter if it's true, just use it.

Kill and let God sort it out.

I can't imagine anyone alive for the last 8 years not knowing the Bush doctrine. The label may not widely be known, but the contents sure are. She's either isn't up to speed with the rest of the Nation and world affairs, or was just confirming Bush and his way is alright with her. No problem here.

There are so many negative parts to the Bush Doctrine that she was right to question Gibson. Which part do you actually have a problem with Charlie, and then I can be more specific?

9/13/2008 4:33 PM  
Anonymous euro sissy said...

You are monsters, my back is turned...

OMG! Now I see Russia..

9/13/2008 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She sounds like a Bush-clone.

Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes

"...So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

... Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages. ..."

I get it. They keep saying, "change", "change", "change", but just like Bush admin, they say one thing but do another. So whatever they say, say the opposite.

9/13/2008 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My response to any person who says that Sarah Palin has foreign policy experience because Alaska is near Russia is to ask:

"Hey, I live in a house next to the hospital. Do you mind if I perform brain surgery on your child?"

Or "I live near the airport and planes fly over my house. Is it OK if I pilot the jet on your next flight?"

9/14/2008 12:50 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

hahaha...funny anon. Gold is nothing but a bet against our Ivy League educated elite holding this crap together. Going to be intesting to see how our huge bailout plays itself out. Chinese and Japanese govs. are happy the US taxpayer will be backing their investments....but will they loan us more? I don't think so. But we'll see. The dollar is up but the stock market hasn't budged. I'm thinking its a great time to buy gold. If the foreigners aren't loaning us any more money there is only one thing left for a poor Fed Chairman to do...What did Mises call it? A "crack up boom". Interesting times...the curse definetly applies.

9/14/2008 2:16 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

You fools should be worried about Nuclear War and what God is going to say about you allowing your tax dollars to be spent dropping bombs on and staving various brown skinned people. "Global warming" ourselves to death is the least of our problems.

9/14/2008 2:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hey, I live in a house next to the hospital. Do you mind if I perform brain surgery on your child?"


9/14/2008 4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly believe that if this election continues to be a referendum on Sarah Palin, Obama will lose the election.

There is simply not enough time before the election for any of the (negative yet true) issues surrounding the Alaska Governor to sink in before November 4th. All that's making an impression with the public seems to be:

1) She took on her state's party establishment (true)
2) The opposition party is being savage in attacking her family and her record (you decide)
3) She carries no national baggage (i.e. not part of the problem)
4) She is drop dead gorgeous. Charisma counts for a lot in presidential contests. If Biden were at the top of the ticket, Dems might be lost already.

Ever day we talk about Sarah Palin is a day we don't point out McCain = Bush or how Obama will end the occupation of Iraq and start us on the road to energy independence resiliency. These are days we can't afford to waste.

The issues with Sarah are serious. I should know. I live in Alaska. She never could have survived the scrutiny of a presidential primary (at least this year). But with barely a month and half to the election, her positive rep will stay intact. Probably even if the Republican AK legislature suceeds in proving she abused her office by pursuing a personal vendetta against a trooper. More time would be needed to really get voters concerned about Palin.

We have to keep focused on the top of the ticket. McCain was the wrong choice before Palin. He's still the wrong choice now.

9/14/2008 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in 1988 people savaged the choice of Dan Quayle as vice-president. Much energy was spent maligning him as a lightweight. It didn't work. George HW Bush (someone I do mostly respect) easily crushed Dukakis.

Attacking the VP choice, no matter how justified it may be, WILL NOT WORK. Keep promoting Obama at the expense of McCain. That is our path to victory.

9/14/2008 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krauthammer says the same thing on this subject BTW.

9/14/2008 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably the best description, from

...According to London's Daily Telegraph, the architects of the Palin Doctrine are a group of people who have been singularly wrong about virtually everything in the last decade -- the neocons, who have been briefing Palin for weeks. She's perfect for the neocons: likeable on the outside, a blank slate on the inside. ..."

9/15/2008 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Bush = Disaster * 1024 ?

Lehman Layoffs: Will They Include George Herbert Walker IV?

and Jeb too

Lehman hires Jeb Bush as private equity advisor


9/17/2008 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Viagra Online said...

I think she has style and character, but that wasn't enough, maybe we can share all her ideas. And as I've said, I think it's important for all the history behind the real issue.

12/22/2010 5:19 PM  

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