The Corner

The Palin Interview

The very rough editing job by ABC makes you yearn to see the whole thing, and hopefully they’ll make it available. But from what they showed, Palin comes off a bit nervous but pretty strong. Her instincts and basic views seem to be in the right place (and of course, by the nature of the VP role, are where John McCain is too). Substantively there was nothing (for me) to disagree with and essentially nothing to criticize. She swatted away the “are you saying the war is a mission from God” nonsense very effectively and calmly—and the question really seems very silly if you actually listen to what she says in that clip from her church.

She’s only met as many world leaders as most governors have, and she’s only traveled to as many countries as most Americans have—hardly disqualifying for a vice president, though it would certainly be nice if she were more worldly; I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable to raise those questions. She would have done well to have spoken about judgment and decision-making experience in response to Gibson’s queries about foreign policy experience and, as Joe Biden would have, to answer a good number of the questions she was asked with “that all depends on the circumstances.”

The only real problem spot, I’d say, was her asking Charlie Gibson which aspect of the Bush Doctrine he was referring to. It certainly seemed like she didn’t know what it was—whether that’s the case or not. Gibson’s clarification, by the way, didn’t help all that much, or at least wasn’t quite accurate. The Bush Doctrine originally referred to the policy of treating nations that harbor terrorists as terrorists themselves. It has since also come to include other elements, like regime change and democracy promotion as elements of the war on terror, and preemption in the face of evident but less-than-imminent threats. Gibson’s description—“The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us,” wasn’t a good description of even the preemption element of the Bush doctrine (and his claim that the preemption element was enunciated in September of 02 is also incorrect), though Palin’s answer suggested she didn’t quite agree with Bush on the question of imminence. Neither one of them came off too well from the exchange, but only one of them is running for office and Palin should have done better with that one.

On the whole a good start, though perhaps not a great one. Tough questions, all handled well, and a decent command of complicated issues. How many members of Congress, for instance, would have done as well? I’ll be curious to see the full transcript and video, and the remaining clips to air tonight and tomorrow.

And by the way, when do we get to hear Barack Obama explain why he thinks he’s ready on day one?

Yuval Levin — Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Update on Alfie Evans

In the few hours since I sent in the piece below, a remarkable succession of events has occurred that paint the decision of the UK authorities in ever-bleaker colors. In the hospital, Alfie was removed from the respirator in accordance with the court’s decision. For the moment, however, he has continued ... Read More

Hurray for the NBA

Last month, just before the Final Four, I did a Q&A on college basketball with our Theodore Kupfer. Teddy K. is back, by popular demand, joined by two other experts: Vivek Dave, an old friend of mine from Michigan, who has long lived in Chicago, and David French, National Review’s Kentucky Kid, now ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More

Monday Links

A Supercut of Epic Movie Explosions. Can You Solve These 10 Medieval Riddles? The cost to make a Margherita pizza: $1.77. How much restaurants charge on average for a pizza: $12. The actual costs of restaurant foods. Vintage animation lessons -- how to make things cute. London's "Great ... Read More

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Trump’s Syria Quandary

President Trump raised eyebrows recently when he ended a tweet lauding the airstrikes he’d ordered against chemical-weapons facilities in Syria with the words “mission accomplished.” The phrase, of course, became infamous in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, when President Bush used it in a speech ... Read More