Thursday, October 2, 2008

Do You Think Sarah Palin Still Likes Katie Couric?

Another day and another set of clips from Katie Couric's seemingly endless interview with Gov. Palin raises yet more questions about Gov. Palin's qualifications ... no, strike that ... Gov. Palin's ability to serve as Vice President or President. I suspect that after tonight's debate, we may never hear Gov. Palin open her mouth again. And just for the record, I don't expect Gov. Palin to fall on her face or utter her usual mumbo jumbo gobbledygook answers tonight; after all, the formal format of the debate should work to her advantage, allowing her to memorize stock 90-second responses to questions that should not have any real follow-up. But it should still be interesting.

Anyway, on to the newest videos:

In advance of tonight's debate, it is worth comparing and contrasting both the content of what Sen. Biden and Gov. Palin have to say, but also their respective demeanor in response to the questions. To me, one candidate seemed very much at ease with the answers, very knowledgeable about the subject, and with firm basis for those views. The other candidate? Well, not so much.

I want to highlight part of what Gov. Palin says in this portion of the interview:

COURIC: Do you think there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?

PALIN: I do. Yeah, I do.

COURIC: The cornerstone of Roe v Wade.

PALIN: I do. And I believe that --individual states can handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in in an issue like that.

Now, I recognize that Gov. Palin is neither an attorney nor an expert on Constitutional law. However, it seems that most people who are passionately interested in the issue of abortion -- as Gov. Palin clearly is (remember, she has protested in front of clinics before) -- recognize that the principal underpinning of Roe v. Wade was a constitutional right to privacy (Griswald v. Connecticutt). So, in essence, Gov. Palin is acknowledging and agreeing that the cornerstone of Roe v. Wade is correct! I don't think that she will find much support for her position among her supporters or among the anti-abortion crowd who argue that the Supreme Court was off base in finding a right to privacy in the Constitution.

The part of this that really makes no sense, however, is her belief that this should simply be left up to the individual states. She recognizes a Constitutional right ... but thinks that the different states should be able to interpret that right differently? Blogger Paul Campos noted:
If the basis for opposing Roe is because you believe, as she says she does, that abortion involves the killing of an innocent human life, then its nonsensical to turn into a states' rights issue as she does. That's equivalent to saying you think slavery is a gross violation of human rights, but whether its legal ought to be left up to individual states. In effect she's saying "I think whether murder ought to be legal or not should be decided at the local level."
Of course, the real point is simply that Gov. Palin reverts back to her talking points and the closest talking points on this issue are "pro-life" and states' rights.

After this part of the discussion, Couric asks Gov. Palin to name a Supreme Court decision, other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagrees. Gov. Palin is unable (or unwilling) to do so. Now certainly, we shouldn't have expected her to be able to come up with any cases by name. But I would have thought that she'd be able to identify broad issues that the Court has addressed, whether in the area of death penalty, eminent domain, criminalization of homosexuality, prayer in schools, rights of defendants, or the right of prisoners at Guantanamo to apply for habeus corpus. These are all controversial issues that the Court has ruled on in recent years that you would think that someone with aspirations to national office would at least be vaguely familiar with. But no. All Gov. Palin can do is offer more of her patented broad gobbledygook answers (or, as Kagro X on DailyKos calls it "Word spray. Squid ink. Gibberish.") that don't really tell us anything about what she believes (other than states' rights):

PALIN: Well, let's see. There's --of course --in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are -- those issues, again, like Roe v Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know -- going through the history of America, there would be others but--"

COURIC: Can you think of any?

PALIN: Well, I could think of -- of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a Vice President, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.

It is also worth noting the very last bit of this answer, Gov. Palin notes that as Vice President she would not be in a position to change the rulings with which she disagreed but, rather, would be in a role "supporting the law of the land as it reads today." That is actually a critical statement, I believe, because, by that standard, she is telling us that she would not be advocating for a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion or to change state laws on the definition of marriage or to mandate (or even allow) prayer in schools. Why is it that I don't believe that is what Gov. Palin really means?

The other new interview clip that caught my attention comes from an even more recent interview in which Katie Couric interviewed Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain together:

This interview is striking for numerous reasons. First, I was stunned to see how angry Sen. McCain got about the "gotcha journalism" (his words) that led to the ironic situation of Gov. Palin agreeing with Sen. Obama's policy on Pakistan the night after the debate when Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama sparred over that very policy. The problem with Sen. McCain's anger is that it is: (a) totally misplaced and (b) a case of the wrongdoer complaining about the result of his own conduct. Let me elaborate.

The question that Gov. Palin answered came, not from the press, but from a voter who happened to be in the restaurant when Gov. Palin showed up for her photo op. This wasn't a journalist throwing a tough question at Gov. Palin; rather, it was a voter who wanted to know her stand on an issue. Um, pardon me, but isn't that what a political campaign is all about? Sen. McCain gets angry about the "gotcha journalism" because that goes back to the campaign's talking points about blaming the "liberal media" for alleged bias, for allegedly asking "unfair" questions of Gov. Palin, for demanding access to the candidates, and for virtually all other ills in modern society (I'm sure that if we wait long enough, we'll hear the McCain campaign blame the "liberal media" for the current financial crisis, too). Had the question come from a journalist, Sen. McCain's criticism might have had some legitimacy, but the question came from a voter, not a member of the press. (I don't know, is Temple University a "liberal" school? Maybe that was the problem...) And, when asked what lessons she learned from the experience, Gov. Palin responds: "That this is all about gotcha journalism, a lot of it is."

Second, and perhaps more importantly, Sen. McCain's anger is wrong because of the way his campaign has sought to shield Gov. Palin from the press. Why is that people are starved to hear what Gov. Palin has to say on real issues? Could it possibly be, oh, I don't know, just maybe, because in the month or so since being nominated she's given three interviews (well, I guess this new one makes it four)? Could it be because her answers in those interviews have been largely nonsensical? Could it be because she hasn't held any town hall meetings or stopped to actually talk to voters and answer their questions? Following the McCain-Obama debate, Sen. Biden made appearances on numerous news programs to talk about the debate and the issues. Gov. Palin went out for a cheesesteak. The McCain campaign has hidden Gov. Palin away, most likely because they recognize that her answers are "word spray" and/or that she is a loose cannon having little or no real and deep understanding of the issues. Thus, Sen. McCain is, if you think about it, expressing anger at the electorate for wanting to know what his running mate thinks and stands for. That's not "gotcha journalism"; no, that's democracy.

And what is with Sen. McCain's almost disdainful query to Gov. Palin (at about 0:50 in the video): "Was that a pizza place?" Look at the scowl on his face; almost saying how dare people who eat at a pizza place be actively involved or desirous of hearing a candidate's position. Talk about "elitism".

Sen. McCain also tries to excuse Gov. Palin's answer on the basis of her having not heard the question right or not having heard the "context" of the question. Sorry. The video is available; anybody watching can hear the question and one would assume that Gov. Palin who was, after all, much closer to the voter, could hear the question more clearly. Moreover, if she didn't hear the question, didn't understand the question, or didn't understand the "context" of the question she could have asked for it to be repeated. Or, she could have done as she's done throughout the campaign so far and simply smiled and not answered. But Gov. Palin elected to answer; indeed, she held what sounds like a running dialogue with the voter answering several questions on the subject of Pakistan.

It is also interesting to hear Sen. McClain compare questions over Gov. Palin's experience to questions raised about the experience of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Yes, questions were raised about those candidates. Without focusing too much on that issue, let's keep things in perspective (and I've omitted general business experience from this list):
  • Jimmy Carter: Attended Georgia Tech, Georgia Southwestern, and the US Naval Academy (the same as Sen. McCain...) where he graduated 59th out of 800+ (Sen. McCain graduated near the bottom...); served aboard submarines and took courses in nuclear engineering; served two terms in the Georgia Senate; elected Governor in 1970 and served the maximum allowed 1 term.
  • Ronald Reagan: Besides his movie career, he served as an officer in the US Army during World War II (attaining the rank of Captain); served as President of the Screen Actors Guild for 8 years (during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings); served as Governor of California from 1967-1975; challenged Republican incumbent President Gerald Ford in 1976 primaries.
  • Bill Clinton: Attended Georgetown University, Oxford University (as a Rhodes Scholar), and Yale law school; professor at University of Arkansas; elected as Attorney General of Arkansas in 1976 and Governor in 1978 (population 2,000,000+), lost re-election in 1980, and was re-elected in 1982 (and held the office for 10 more years).
  • Sarah Palin: Attended a whole bunch of schools that you haven't heard of (except for the University of Idaho), worked briefly as a television sportscaster, served on a city council and as mayor of a city with 7,000 (give or take) people, and has served 20 months as governor of a state with fewer people than the largest city in both California (Reagan) and Georgia (Carter) and almost the same number of people as in the metropolitan area of the largest city in Arkansas (Clinton).

Does Sen. McCain really want us to make this comparison?

Whew. Deep breath. OK. So, I said more than I planned...


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At Friday, October 03, 2008 10:27:00 AM , Blogger Charles said...

Keith Olbermann last night had a clip of Palin appearing this past summer on what looked like a national news show (probably on one of the cable nets) and talking about the Supreme Court's ruling that drastically reduced the amount that Exxon had to pay in relation to the Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

So the Governor of Alaska, when asked to name one Supreme Court judgment with which she disagreed other than Roe, couldn't come up with the decision that adversely affected her state coffers and which she was interviewed about (one would assume at length) three months ago????


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