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Posted by on Sep 11, 2008 in At TMV, Media, Politics, War | 32 comments

Palin doesn’t know what the Bush Doctrine is

Forget the war with Russia quote. Yes, that was a terrifying – but clarifying – moment in that it revealed the utter folly of pushing NATO membership for Georgia or Ukraine. Smart politicians are never supposed to admit to a possible war with Russia, even if it’s technically possible. And her “perhaps so” comment is getting WIDE play already (front page on the Washington Post, for example).

But far more troubling for me was her moose-in-the-headlights look when asked about the Bush Doctrine. See the video here.

As a college professor I know when my students are BSing. It’s usually quite obvious. I call on them to answer a question about the reading and they give some completely vague talking point response. Charlie Gibson sensed it here with Sarah Palin too, and he pressed the issue. He had to actually tell her what the Bush Doctrine is: pre-emptive strikes and anticipatory self-defense.

I guarantee you that most people who read The Moderate Voice know what the Bush Doctrine is. We’ve been debating it since 2002. And if they didn’t know it, they wouldn’t pretend to be ready to serve as VP.

How could Palin have flubbed this basic question about current national security policy? It was THE justification for the war in Iraq. There are dozens of books out there on it. Everybody in the McCain foreign policy camp knows the Bush Doctrine backwards and forwards – many of them helped write it. And yet she doesn’t know what it is?

What’s worse is that when she was finally told what the Bush Doctrine was – anticipatory self-defense and pre-emptive striking – she still flubbed it. She answered that the US could respond militarily in the case of an “imminent threat.” Well, that’s actually traditional war theory and NOT the Bush Doctrine. Remember all those defenders of the Iraq war insisting that Bush NEVER claimed Iraq was an “imminent” threat? How many times did we debate the meaning of “imminence?” The reason for that exchange was clear: if Iraq posed no imminent threat, then war was unjustified…UNLESS, you accept the Bush Doctrine that advocates war even when the threat is NOT imminent.

And then when asked about an application of this doctrine in Pakistan – something that Barack Obama got a lot of flak for early on but that has become much less controversial since – she punted again. I honestly got the impression that she doesn’t know if Pakistan has nukes, why Pakistan is of strategic importance, or what’s been happening there in terms of their leadership.

Those of us who were skeptical of the Sarah Palin nomination predicted this would happen. Every day she spent in scripted rallies, the call would grow louder for her to show her actual knowledge and beliefs. And when given an interview with a man deemed appropriately “deferential,” she still flubs it.

The question now is whether or not John McCain will let her speak unscripted again before the debates. Apparently her “regular mom” schtick is better protected by shielding her from even softball policy questions.

But, hey, I’m biased. What do other people think? Did she come across as somebody ready to step in as VP, and as President in a moment’s notice if need be? Did she pass what Hillary Clinton called the “Commander-in-Chief” threshold?

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