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The endless whine of Sarah Palin


Please make it stop.

Looking back on her interview with ABC News’ Charles Gibson, in which Palin seemed unsure of how to define the Bush doctrine, the Alaska governor said she was disrespected in a way that another candidate would not have been.

“I’d have to say there would be much more respect shown to the subject, yes,” she said.

I don’t want to interfere with Sarah Palin’s apparent need to develop an alternate history of the 2008 campaign, but Charlie Gibson interview was predictably — and appropriately, I suppose, given the responses he received — lightweight. This is why the McCain campaign agreed to grant him the interview. There were any number of difficult questions that a journalist might have posed to the vice presidential nominee, but Gibson — because he’s not a useful journalist — didn’t bother to ask them. Instead, he served up two species of questions during their sessions together: (1) those anyone with a basic literacy in current events should have been capable of answering; and (2) those allowing Sarah Palin the chance to elaborate on her general suitability for office.

Some of the questions were delivered in a condescending tone of voice, but the claim that Palin received no “respect” is transparently silly. If anything, the interview revealed for the first time the McCain campaign’s open contempt for its potential supporters, whom they evidently believed were prepared to fall for someone with a substantively weak appreciation for the issues that had been dominating the campaign (and would continue to do so for another week or so, before the necrotic economy took over). Most telling was Palin’s inability to coherently discuss — or, for that matter, even recognize — the foreign policy that was responsible for her son’s deployment to Iraq, which took place the very day the Gibson interview first aired.

The problem was not, as Palin defenders like to argue, that she was depicted by the press as a moron — as if Not A Moron were an adequate starting point for this sort of thing. Rather, the problem was that she revealed herself to be a profoundly incurious person with terrible baseline notions about how to approach an array of policy problems. These traits aren’t guaranteed to interfere a candidate’s ascent to office — see “Bush, George W., the elections of 2000 and 2004” — so it’s a testimony to Palin’s unique deficits that she came out so badly in all of this.

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