I suppose you can say she “won” if winning is defined by skating by without a major embarassing incident that will damage the ticket politically. But if you set the bar higher and ask whether she displayed any real understanding of foreign policy and national security, given the office she’s seeking, I would say that she lost pretty handily. I just don’t see how anybody watching that could have honestly thought that she’s ready to take over as commander in chief at a moment’s notice if something were to happen to John McCain. It’s one thing for partisan Republicans to defend her performance, but it’s disappointing to see so many conservative commentators join in. I was watching Fox last night and Bill Kristol said she was “impressive.” Meanwhile, Andy McCarthy has been trying to defend her on the Bush Doctrine question by arguing that it isn’t easily defined and is the subject of debate even within the foreign policy community. But that’s not the point. When asked about the Bush Doctrine, had Sarah Palin said, “How do you mean that Charlie? Intellegent people disagree on the actual meaning of the term. Some people see it as the idea of using preemtive war as a means to eliminate threats, others see it as the idea that we’re not going to distinguish between terrorists and the nations that harbor them, and still others say that promoting democracy is an essential element of it” than yes, it would be clear that she has a grasp of the subject matter.
But here’s the actual exchange:
GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?
PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?
GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?
PALIN: His world view.
GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.
PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.His “world view”? Are conservatives seriously going to argue that she knows what she’s talking about?
Meanwhile, some other conservatives seem to be contented that her hawkish answers suggest that her heart is in the right place. But that’s the same assumption conservatives made about President Bush, and look how that turned out.
Philip Klein is The American Spectator’s Washington correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/Philipaklein
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