From the same party that gave us the incredibly untalented and mediocre Clarence Thomas comes the equally untalented and mediocre Sarah Palin.
After several days of hiding her from the press, the McCain campaign permitted ABC News anchorman Charles Gibson to interview Palin. She made no major mistakes, but appeared utterly clueless when Gibson asked her about The Bush Doctrine regarding the use of preemptive force against nations that support terrorism or offer them safe haven.
The bar was set low for Palin. She still tripped over it.
Not a flat-on-your-face SPLAT, but she stumbled badly and at the very least showed her grasp of foreign policy is shallow. Predictably, some conservatives rushed to her defense and said Gibson’s question about the Bush Doctrine was “gotcha” journalism and not important.
There’s nothing “gotcha” about asking a person who could be Commander-in-Chief what some of the particulars of a important military and foreign policy doctrine excercised by her predecessor.
Would it be a “gotcha” question if it were asked of Joe Biden? Lower standards for Sarah Palin, I get. No standards, I don’t get.
James Fallows of The Atlantic makes the case why the Bush Doctrine question was neither “gotcha journalism” nor pointless semantics.
Mention a name or theme — Brett Favre, the Patriots under Belichick, Lance Armstrong’s comeback, Venus and Serena — and anyone who cares about sports can have a very sophisticated discussion about the ins and outs and myth and realities and arguments and rebuttals.
People who don’t like sports can’t do that. It’s not so much that they can’t identify the names — they’ve heard of Armstrong — but they’ve never bothered to follow the flow of debate. I like sports — and politics and tech and other topics — so I like joining these debates. On a wide range of other topics — fashion, antique furniture, the world of restaurants and fine dining, or (blush) opera — I have not been interested enough to learn anything I can add to the discussion. So I embarrass myself if I have to express a view.
What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the “Bush Doctrine” exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years. James Fallows
I have a good friend I could probably converse with for hours on end about politics and never run out of conversation. By his own admission, my friend is not a big fan of sports. So, if I want to engage him in a detailed discussion of how San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan misused and eventually destroyed the team’s 2005’s first-round choice, quarterback Alex Smith, he might listen politely but have absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation having never cultivated an interest in the intricacies of NFL football teams.
When Clarence Thomas was asked during his confirmation hearing what his thoughts on Roe v. Wade he said he had no thoughts and had never discussed the landmark decision. For some that was when Thomas revealed the degrees to which he would go to get the job. How could any legal mind not have even discussed possibly the most controversial decision ever made by the Supreme Court?
The answer was no one could not have discussed Roe v. Wade unless you were an ambitious man with a bare minimum of qualifications for the job you were auditioning for but a burning desire to get on the High Court and supported by a powerful group of interests determined to get you there. Thomas played the dumb game and tried to run out the clock on his opponents. Now he sits on the Court with a lifetime appointment and a rigid determination to overturn Roe v. Wade if he can only get one or two more like-minded conservatives to replace the aging liberals.
Palin is Clarence Thomas with breasts. A minimally qualified and intellectually stunted woman who’s most endearing trait is a blind obeisance to far-right dogma. Like Thomas, Palin is how cynically the Right considers affirmative action and elevates a person’s external traits over their experience and competence.