Palin-spastic: Stare 'em down

In which I attempt to reconstruct obscured positions and correct for crustal movements.

John Cole points out this bit from Sarah Palin's interview:

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.”



According to Google Earth, the westernmost tip of Alaska is over 5,000 miles from the fighting in Georgia. Moscow is closer, a mere 4,500 miles away. Even if Palin didn't need glasses, she couldn't see anything that far away.

This is bullshit. Bullshit of the technical sort, the sort where a person speaks in a manner which is "unconnected with concern for the truth." Misrepresentation result, but also simple gibberish.

And the bullshit poured through the whole interview:

GIBSON: When I asked John McCain about your national security credentials, he cited the fact that you have commanded the Alaskan National Guard and that Alaska is close to Russia. Are those sufficient credentials?

PALIN: … Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that's with the energy independence that I've been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.

A shorter answer would've been to simply admit she had no national security credentials. Overseeing pipelines and oilwells in Alaska is not national security. And Gibson sees that:

GIBSON: I know. I'm just saying that national security is a whole lot more than energy.

PALIN: It is, but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security. It's that important. It's that significant.

Dispirited, Gibson moves on:

GIBSON: Did you ever travel outside the country prior to your trip to Kuwait and Germany last year?

PALIN: Canada, Mexico, and then, yes, that trip, that was the trip of a lifetime to visit our troops in Kuwait and stop and visit our injured soldiers in Germany. That was the trip of a lifetime and it changed my life.

I love Canada, and I love Mexico, but they don't count for these purposes. They're right there next to the US. A well-traveled American would be hard pressed to have avoided crossing into one or the other. Heck, given her admitted proximity to Russia, it's disappointing that she never had sufficient curiosity to take a boat over and touch Russian soil. But that incuriosity is a persistent feature of hers:

GIBSON: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?

PALIN: There in the state of Alaska, our international trade activities bring in many leaders of other countries.

GIBSON: And all governors deal with trade delegations.

PALIN: Right.

GIBSON: Who act at the behest of their governments.

PALIN: Right, right.

GIBSON: I'm talking about somebody who's a head of state, who can negotiate for that country. Ever met one?

PALIN: I have not and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you. …

This is embarrassing. Honestly, it's an insult not just to Mittens Romney and the other sad sack Republican VP hopefuls of a few weeks ago who had all met a foreign leader (I'll wager), it's an insult to the political process and the nation. Sarah Palin's interview shows that she has nowhere near the capacity to step in when John McCain is incapacitated in office (an eventuality that will happen at least briefly, during medical procedures, and given McCain's age, the incapacity could be permanent), let alone as McCain's successor in 2012 whether McCain wins or loses. Dick Cheney had met foreign leaders. Al Gore had too. So had Bush I, Walter Mondale, and Nelson Rockefeller, though, Dan Quayle may not have, and Spiro Agnew may not either. Are those really the comparisons she wants us to draw?

Much has been made of a passage in which Palin was unable to properly define the Bush Doctrine, and managed to repudiate it at the same time she thought she was supporting it. But I'm more worried by this passage:

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don't think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

GIBSON: So if we wouldn't second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would cooperative or agree with that.

PALIN: I don't think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.

PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.

Gee, wonder what her talking point was? Alas that there seems to be nothing behind the memorized line. Her position on Israel is that the nation can do no wrong. But like any nation, it can and does do wrong, and it's the place of allies to say so. Indeed, if Israel set a course which would plunge the Middle East into chaos, or would initiate a global nuclear war (a nuclear attack on Iran could provoke a response from neighboring Pakistan, bringing India and then China into the mix), it is our obligation to calm things down. And in many cases, the Vice President is responsible for handling low-level negotiations, or for conducting negotiations in a way that is less noticeable than direct Presidential involvement. Palin clearly cannot do that, since it would require an ability to speak beyond her script.

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tags: Palin-Couric interview, Sarah Palin, Katie Couric, Palin Foreign Policy experience, streaming video Apparently, during an interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin made a mockery of herself as a vice presidential candidate, as a governor of the state of Alaska, and as a woman. I have a video (…
That anyone would think -- much less say -- as John McCain did of Governor Palin that she "knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America" means either McCain is one of the stupidest people in America (doubtful, since the competition is too strong); or that he…
As if this and this weren't enough, below we have McCain himself applying the "Palin lives near Russia" litmus test for foreign policy experience. Around minute 2:30: GIBSON: Can you honestly say you feel confident having someone who hasn't traveled outside the United States until last year,…
Under the fold.... Alaska is right next to Russia: She was referring to the Diomede Islands which straddle the International Date Line in the Bering Straits. Big Diomede is on the Russian side of the line and Little Domede is on the Alaskan side. There is a village of about 150 Eskimos on Little…

" can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

She got that one right. You can see Nunarbuk from Ignaluk. But has Palin ever been there? Can she point them on a map? Not that it would increase her foreign policy credibility in any way...

BTW, Michael Palin has been there. He would be a far more competent VP, but unfortunately he is British.

By Lassi Hippeläinen (not verified) on 12 Sep 2008 #permalink

What's happening is exactly what somebody on the radio said would happen: Palin gets a question she can't answer, and changes the subject to one of the Preferred Points. You can really see it coming in the case of the Bush Doctrine question.

Agnew was the last VP to take office who had not met a single foreign leader.

I did some hunting this morning and, as far as I can tell, she has not been to Little Diomede and has not seen Russia. I lived in Alaska for nineteen years and I have been to Russia, so I must be a thousand times the foreign policy expert she is (actually, I might be, but not for those reasons).

Alaska is a big place, as big as the entire US east of the Mississippi. Imagine a candidate who had never been out of the greater Atlanta area claiming to be an expert on Canada because Canada is right next door. They would be laughed at. A few days ago we were laughing at people who claimed Palin had gained deep insight into foreign affairs through osmosis. Through repetition all week, it has somehow become a respectable talking point. This is the "big lie" at work.

She NEEDS to go on The Colbert Report. It would be "the irrepressible force meets the immovable object."

Another random thought: very like a pit bull - trained to just grab and hang on.

It looks like FtK just served you up a softball.

Go easy on her.

"According to Google Earth, the westernmost tip of Alaska . . . " Actually, the "westernmost" tip of Alaska is in the Eastern Hemisphere.

By merkin j. pus-tart (not verified) on 12 Sep 2008 #permalink

According to Google Earth, the capitol city of Maine is actually closer to the fighting in Georgia than the capitol city of Alaska.

Should we ask Governor Baldacci for his insights?