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    Those Eyes, That Mouth

    Crummy week. If the post that follows is more dyspeptic than usual, don’t worry; after some retail therapy, I’ll be back to normal. Which is dyspeptic anyway, so forget I brought it up.

    So, how about that Sarah Palin? Has she touched a nerve, or what? The last week or so has been nothing if not entertaining. Legions of lefty types had regarded the zeal and fervor of Obama supporters as deeply moving, evidence that government could still inspire and ennoble and bring us all together (for collective action enforced by state power).

    And then the very second the public started going cuckoo for Sarah Palin’s Cocoa Puffs, the same lefties were all like, “Zeal and fervor? We HATE zeal and fervor! Politics requires a cool head. Why aren’t people retaining their cool? Besides, who could get zealous and fervent over THAT bitch?!”

    Much of the right, for its part, appears to have forgotten just as quickly how scornful it was of the Obama personality cult. Near-religious ecstasies of devotion toward an untested politician have suddenly become perfectly acceptable now that they’re directed at a pro-life Republican.

    Palin is the nominee for vice-president, and she’s being pitched as the Washington outsider who hasn’t spent her entire life lusting after and preparing for a position on high from which she can boss us all around; so she has more room to learn on the job. What those of us who haven’t written her off or converted to her priesthood out of hand have to size up is whether she has at least baseline policy knowledge, can project authority and confidence when challenged, and has a learning curve.

    I thought Kirsten Powers’s assessment of the Charlie Gibson interview was pretty on-target:

    Her responses to Gibson’s cross-examining seemed canned and rehearsed, a little like the answers you might give in a tough college interview. But that may be a result of the ham-fisted editing – which seemed to cut her off mid-thought on many answers. ABC should release the entire, unedited interview, so that Americans can judge her more fairly.

    The biggest concern is that she appeared to not know what the Bush Doctrine is. There are, in fact, different definitions of it – but all have had an impact on this nation. One hopes Palin is more up to speed than she seemed.

    Of course, she needs to be questioned on many issues – but this interview left us with little new information about her.

    Americans already know she lacks foreign-policy experience (as, by the way, did Democrats’ 2004 VP candidate, John Edwards). All we could learn from Gibson’s grilling on that topic was how well she’s memorized McCain’s positions. Why ask her whether Georgia and Ukraine should be admitted to NATO? Her position will match McCain’s, just as Joe Biden’s stands will mirror Barack Obama’s.

    Interviewers are supposed to ask tough questions, but Gibson’s contempt was barely disguised, and I think it probably backfired with a lot of viewers by making Palin look more sympathetic. Palin didn’t do all that great, but she didn’t fall flat on her face, and Obama partisans, worrisomely, don’t seem to understand the ways in which they may be helping her. She stayed polite and even-keeled; she appeared under attack without appearing to need protection. And yes, in this country it’s tactically really stupid to mix up praying that we’re acting with God’s blessing with declaring that we’re on a mission from God.

    Added later: And sure enough, there was a reason for those jerky cuts; the full transcript of the Gibson interview doesn’t reveal her to be a heretofore-unrecognized geopolitical expert, but her full responses clearly don’t make the loopy points the aired interview wanted them to make (via NewsBusters).

    10 Responses to “Those Eyes, That Mouth”

    1. Maria says:

      This will be a boring post, because I won’t be arguing with you. :-) I agree with Powers’s assessment and with yours. And, I am a lefty, a lot of the time. Ok, maybe most of the time. 😉

      I watched the world news interview and I watched the 20/20 interview that was on last night. The 20/20 interview was not quite as edited. I looked at the full transcript you linked to your post. Some of the things that had been edited out in the world news interview were actually part of the 20/20 interview. I wholeheartedly agree with you, “Gibson’s contempt was barely disguised.” I thought she did all right.

      Personally, I love it. I love that McCain picked a woman. And, I don’t mean that cynically. He’s shaking up the race. It’s going to be an exciting and intriguing race. And, it’s probably going to be very close. I’m looking forward to a good fight. It’s fun to see people fired up on both sides of the aisle.

    2. Zak says:

      Sean says “at least baseline policy knowledge, can project authority and confidence when challenged, and has a learning curve.”

      How low our standards have sunk. She seems to have much less baseline knowledge than say, you. Projecting authority is, what, attitude? And, a learning curve just means she isn’t completely dense. These are the criteria for someone who could be president January 21st?

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yes, projecting authority is attitude, and given the reach of the global media nowadays, it is absolutely essential. It might be nice if we lived in a world in which wonkish substance were a guarantee of good staff selection and decision-making, but I don’t think that experience indicates that that’s true. Bill Clinton, by all accounts, mainlines information about global politics, but he and Madeleine Albright still managed to screw up a lot. Condoleezza Rice was a Russia specialist who’d spent her entire career studying politics, and she hasn’t exactly covered herself in glory as Secretary of State. And it wasn’t so long ago that Obama was making scintillatingly stupid remarks about, say, Pakistan. And it wasn’t so long before that that John Edwards was the Democratic VP nominee (and a contender for the nomination yet again this year), and no one was going berserk over his lack of international knowledge and experience.

      My point isn’t that expertise doesn’t matter at all. I’m certainly going to be watching Palin closely to see whether she devotes herself to learning the lie of the land. My point is that no president knows what specific eventualities he’s actually going to have to be prepared for, so the ability to improvise and to come off as in control (while staff members are actually scurrying about behind the scenes gathering information) is a necessity.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Maria, nice that we can agree occasionally. :)

    5. Robohobo says:

      Sean –

      If it isn’t obvious by now that the MSM is in the tank for the Obamessiah it should be. Reading the full transcript shows that Gibson and the editors had a definite agenda. Even the mother-in-law who is in the tank for the ‘O’ said she lost respect for Gibson because he was so condescending to Palin.

      This whole race has been decidedly weird.

      Who played the race card first?

      If you are looking for substance from CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN or the rest of the leftist state media orgs then you are missing it. We have maybe one chance left in the US for the real deal to shine through and it is with McCain-Palin come November.

      If Obama is elected then it will be full blown Socialism in the ‘Land of the Free’. Not socialism lite but the full meal deal.

      • Eagle says:

        Preparing lunchs, going to library, going out with doggy, invite the BFFs over to an afternoon with old movies and popcorn, cleaning cupboards to know what you do own and use (food included!), clean outdoor spaces and take care of it, play boards games, go help older parents and grtpn-naredas with harder tasks, free activities in town, etc, etc.. :):)

    6. Zak says:

      Full-blown Socialism, huh? Wow, your powers of analysis are truly astounding. You can probably go far in a McCain-Palin administration. Tell us, which companies do you think Obama will start nationalizing first?

    7. Sean Kinsell says:

      The health-care industry, Zak. You of all people should know that. :)

      Robohobo, I think Obama (and the Clintons) are actually more like the social democrats of Western Europe. (Al Gore has always impressed me as much closer to a garden-variety socialist.) I’m not trying to downplay the dangers of following their policy prescriptions, just pointing out that when you call them socialists, the obvious response is Zak’s. The problem usually isn’t that they think the government should own everything important, just that they assume that well-meaning technocrats who went to the best schools should step in and fix things when they go wrong. In a way, it’s more insidious, because you get things like California’s energy “deregulation” ten years ago, in which producers and providers may be in the private sector but state functionaries rig the game.

    8. Zak says:

      Actually, ironically enough Bush is doing a pretty good job of nationalizing the financial sector as we speak!

      (And Obama’s plan isn’t to socialize medicine aka the UK; it’s to provide universal coverage, which is a different thing altogether.)

    9. Sean Kinsell says:

      I’m not happy about the bailout, Zak, but I do think it should be noted that the loans being given are not nationalizations. Contrariwise, just because the vision on the left is not to make the health care system look like the U.K. model, that doesn’t mean it’s false to call it the socialization of health care. We don’t seem to be looking at HillaryCare, no, but providing federally mandated universal coverage is going to bring the state in to muck around with how much can be charged and which treatments are medically necessary and all kinds of other stuff.

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