By Cliff Kincaid
September 13, 2008
The McCain campaign is running an ad saying the wolves are out to get Sarah Palin. But the campaign fed her to the wolves in the Charlie Gibson interview. The interview, at least the part on foreign policy, looked like a police interrogation. The only thing missing was a rubber hose.
Conservative bloggers are complaining about Gibson’s performance, saying he got some facts wrong. But police have the right to lie in order to get a confession. The McCain campaign knew this going in.
The Powerline blog says that Palin “did very well.” But she didn’t come across as clearly understanding the question about the Bush Doctrine. Then, she endorsed NATO protection of the former Soviet republics, raising the prospect of war with Russia, when NATO can’t even finish the job in Afghanistan. Palin was adopting the questionable McCain NATO position as her own, and it came across as contrived.
Conservative blogger William Dyer, trying to defend Palin’s lack of detailed knowledge about the Bush doctrine, says that there are different meanings of the term. The Gibson question should have been more specific. But when she replied, “his worldview?” Gibson knew that he had her. The Bush Doctrine is more than a worldview. It is a strategy for winning the war against Islamic terrorism and neutralizing regimes that emerge as threats to America and its allies.
When asked about the Bush Doctrine, she should have said:
“Mr. Gibson, I’m not going to get into the details of the Bush Doctrine with you. I will leave that to the foreign policy experts. Let me tell you that my son is preparing to put his life on the line for his fellow citizens. And it’s because of moms like me—and sons like mine—that we have a military to fight terrorists. I will be an advocate for those military moms and our troops when I get into the White House. I will make sure they have superior medical care. And I will continue to advocate for a victory in this war. And, yes, I pray that our troops will be successful and that God is on our side.”
Based on what we know about Palin, especially the YouTube videos of her speaking in church, this is probably what she believes. But she was transformed into a female version of McCain during the Gibson interview. They should have “Let Palin be Palin.”
What clearly happened, based on stories about McCain aides traveling with and advising her, is that she was taken into a room somewhere and her head was filled with McCain’s foreign policy views. She did express her own opinion on the need to drill for oil in ANWR, but seemed to back away from her previous statements that humans are not the cause of global warming.
Why did she have to prove herself to Charles Gibson anyway? She could have gone on friendlier programs, like Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. The liberal media would have screamed. But so what?
I warned in a column that the liberal media would go after her and practice “gotcha” journalism. But the McCain campaign was stampeded into quickly making her available for a media grilling. They figured Charles Gibson would be a shark with fewer teeth. It’s true that he does have a more gentle demeanor than, say, a Chris Matthews, but Gibson knew that he would have to go after her in order to get his colleagues’ approval.
As a governor, the McCain campaign knew that her expertise wasn’t foreign policy. But they turned her over to Gibson anyway. What voters are looking for is someone who has basic knowledge of foreign policy issues and a pro-American view, not an encyclopedic grasp of foreign policy doctrines and legislation that has been before Sen. Joe Biden’s Senate Foreign Relations committee.
Yet McCain himself now says that Palin will be doing “numerous” interviews and having “a lot of conversations with the media.” This is a recipe for more controversies and “gotcha” journalism.
Palin should handle foreign policy in the same way she handles pro-life and family issues—by speaking from the heart. Good old-fashioned patriotism, which she has in abundance, will make a major impression in this regard.
If McCain’s people think she is going to impress the media by trying to sound like a legal scholar from a think tank, they are going to leave her open to attack on literally dozens of issues.
It’s true, of course, that Obama and Biden also make errors. But they’ve got media support, and that can make all the difference.
The Democratic ticket, for example, features a plagiarist as the vice-presidential candidate. If Palin had such a résumé, she would never have been nominated. Thanks to the liberal media’s double standard, that’s just the way it is. The McCain campaign should not have to be told that Palin will always have to meet a higher standard and that the liberal media will always make sure that she doesn’t pass the test.
Consider the newest controversy. The media are now apoplectic over the alleged “lies” being told in some controversial ads against Obama. It’s true that the sex education ad against Obama was a big stretch. It had to do with something from Obama’s state senate days, and has no national significance. Meanwhile, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has told blogger Hugh Hewitt that they will not be making Obama’s relationship with communist terrorist Bill Ayers “a big case in the campaign.” This is an issue that requires no exaggeration, only facts. But it is off the table.
Obama’s running mate was found guilty of plagiarism, which is a form of lying, when he was caught using the life story of a British politician as his own. Biden also cheated in law school. This is far more serious than not knowing the details of the Bush Doctrine, because it goes to the heart of one’s character. But the McCain campaign seems to be giving the Obama-Biden ticket a pass on that, too. They better get their act together before the Biden-Palin debate.
John M. Broder has a fascinating article in the International Herald Tribune about Biden’s recent series of gaffes on the campaign trail. Biden aides are quoted as saying this proves that he is authentic and human.
This is an interesting defense for making a fool of oneself. But if Palin were defended in this way, she would become a national laughingstock. She is expected to be perfect.
Obama has said “Enough is enough” about the misleading McCain ads. Palin should say “Enough is enough” as well. There is no reason to play a game of hangman with the media. She should tell the McCain campaign that she wants to shoot wolves, not be fed to them.
© 2008 Cliff Kincaid – All Rights Reserved
Sign Up For Free E-Mail Alerts
E-Mails are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale
Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.