Yesterday, Governor Sarah Palin sat down with Charlie Gibson. Here are some of my thoughts:
First, overall I do not think Gibson was a bad overall choice as an initial interview. Charlie Gibson is one of the very few news personalities that can host a wake up show in the morning and a nightly news program in the evening. He freely changes, literally, from “Charlie” in the A.M, and “Charles” in the evening on a dime depending on his hosting responsibilities.With this, Gibson has a homespun audience and a world-view audience. He would not alienate his home-spun viewers by completely destroying Palin, such as other news personalities would gleefully do. Also, the McCain campaign can play that she had been interviewed by a major news agency and network upon completion of the interview.
That being said, I think Gibson purposely made some of the questions quiet difficult. He had to prove himself as a tough interviewer and redeem himself for past political moderating blunders.
For instance, if Palin answered “no” about admitting Georgia into NATO, Gibson would respond, “So you would not protect an established democracy against an invading Communist country?” When she answered “yes”, Gibson pulled a, “So you think it is worth full-scale war with Russia?” There was no way out for her, and this is why career politicians always carry dodge answers like “The members of NATO decide who can have admittance, and this would be better addressed to all of them...” in their deck of cards. The problem is that Palin is not a professional politician. That is her appeal and her struggle. If she had to give a direct answer, she gave the right one on this issue.
Secondly, Palin was frozen by the question of the Bush Doctrine, and that was a noticeable misstep making her look inexperienced. I, sometimes, feel that I am the last George W. Bush supporter in America. Acknowledging that I am a huge supporter, if someone asked me to define the Bush Doctrine; I would not know detailed specifics and only probably be able to give the general flavor. As a note, the coiner of the phrase "Bush Doctrine" believes Charlie Gibson got his interpretation wrong as well.
I would also say that if she was going to completely blow a question in this interview, this was the one. The Obama camp tries day and night to tie her and Senator McCain to the the Bush administration's ankle. Here, she is so far away from GW, she does not even know his policies specifically. It could be spun in a good way if handled properly.
Her answer in regard to God having a master plan for the world endeared her to all of her base supporters, as she did not waiver on her faith. Also, the “war as a last result” also must have strengthened her independent support. These answers were very compelling and seemed very authentic.
And finally, oh yes, the “hubris” line. This shows you how difficult an interview she is and how she is not the only one with skin in the game when she is being interviewed. The definition of hubris is ”an exaggerated self-pride or confidence”. Gibson asked Obama a similar question last year, asking the Senator whether he asks himself, "I must have hubris to run for this office". This comment was mentioning when Gibson wasn't giving Obama a gushing genealogy review. The problem was Gibson made it a commentary to Palin, and not hypothetical as he did to Obama, saying "You must have some hubris..." A nuance that created bias. Palin should have called him on it that precise moment. It would have set the tone of the interview and put Gibson on the defensive.
Overall, if her convention speech was a perfect 10.0, I give her a 6.5 on the interview. No death blows or insurmountable mistakes. She didn’t exactly ask a man in a wheelchair to stand up.
I found it interesting that CBS news said she didn't look confident, and The New York Times said she was too confident because she had all the answers rehearsed. The liberals should really get together on their propaganda.
Finally, please understand that she kissed her son goodbye that morning and sent him off to war so it probably was not an easy day for her to sit down and do her first interview. I took my child to her first day of pre-K last week and my knees were buckling. I would not be my best in a situation where I would have to be very sharp right after that.
I expect Palin to be much better in the balance of the interview when domestic issues and energy are discussed.
Post Note 9/13: Mark Levine posted a full segment of the Gibson/Palin interview on his site, and there is some question as to whether the interview was edited in an unfavorable way to Gov. Palin.