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