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So we find that Charles Gibson and Katie Couric have raised the bar. Their interviews with Governor Palin were all about foreign policy, at least the part they put on the air. It took a journalist from Montana, Frank Miele, to go to the transcripts of the whole interviews to show that 70 percent of what she said was left, metaphorically, on the cutting room floor. As Miele wrote, “You will see two Sarah Palins. The one sitting across from Charlie Gibson was nuanced, insistent and thoughtful, but the one that Gibson cut-and-pasted in the editing room was a cross between Ma Kettle and Dr. Strangelove.” Gibson ridiculed her for suggesting that that the Russian invasion of Georgia was unprovoked (just as Obama had called upon both sides “to use restraint”— both Georgia whose territory had been invaded and Russia whose ruthless assault had been long-planned). Gibson seemed incredulous when she suggested that Alaska’s border with Russia gave her some understanding of Russia’s actions.
Katie Couric also left the best parts of Palin’s interview on the cutting room floor. With her beady eyes focused, she moved in to gimlet the governor on the question of proximity to Russia, “as part of your foreign policy experience,” which Palin had never claimed. It’s too bad that Palin got flustered at that moment, after having been burned so badly by Gibson’s treachery on the issue. “As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska,” she said without getting her syntax in gear. That made it a must-go sound-byte in the editing room.
Of course Senator McCain got the same treatment. In the McCain-Obama debate, six times the name “Ahmadinejad” rolled smoothly off McCain’s tongue, but one time momentarily it seemed to get caught in his throat. Anyone want to guess which one of the seven Ahmadinejads got featured on the network reporting the next day?
A MORE COMPREHENSIVE answer from Palin might have pointed out that Russian fighters routinely violate U.S. air space over Alaskan waters, and U.S. military planes based in Alaska scramble to escort them out. She could also have pointed out that Russian submarines and icebreakers enter Canadian waters without a by-your-leave, and in the Arctic Ocean they have staked Russian claims to ownership of the North Pole, and the 8 billion tons of oil and gas that lie underneath. This is the kind of stuff on which Palin was briefed as commander of the Alaska National Guard. If Palin was a bit thrown off her stride, it may have been because she was unsure of the fuzzy line between classified and unclassified intelligence in her first incursions into network TV.
Amazingly, neither Biden as chairman of the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee, nor Obama as chairman of the subcommittee on Europe have ever held hearings on the matter of Putin rearing his head. In fact, Obama is already such an expert that he feels no need to hold any hearings at all in his subcommittee. With a revanchist Russia laying claim to Georgia, perhaps Putin is beginning to think of Alaska as part of what the Russians call the Near Abroad. Perhaps, in some of his revanchist moods, he covets Seward’s Icebox as Russian territory which the Czar disposed of too quickly. Is it possible that he is seeking abrogation of the 1867 Seward-Stoeckl Treaty? Probably not; he is just acting that way. But it would be a good idea for Biden and Obama to take a day off from campaigning and hold a hearing on Russia’s designs in the Arctic. They might learn something if they call as their first expert witness the Governor of Alaska.
Some of the hoity-toity conservatives in the National Review crowd were shocked and appalled at the Palin interviews. Wrinkling their noses at the smell of mooseburgers cooking on the grill, they could hardly eat their pheasant under glass, stuffed with pate de foie gras and truffles. They called for Palin to be thrown under the harpsichord.
Well, we shall see. At least the Palin-Biden debate will be broadcast in full and not be cut up by those who have knives out against her. Can the indomitable Palin hold her own once Biden fires up his gaffe-o-matic? There’s just a chance, maybe a good chance that she can knock off the old geezer and field-dress him on the spot.
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