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Sarah Palin's interview with Charles Gibson on ABC

Those hoping that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin would burst into tears or start speaking in tongues during her interview with Charles Gibson were no doubt disappointed by the first part of her much heralded “first interview" on "ABC World News" Thursday and then in a slightly expanded form on "Nightline." She did consistently mispronounce the word "nuclear;" but then so did Jimmy Carter, and so does George Bush, and they both became president.

It was a fascinating and unsettling interview nonetheless, first and foremost because it's been nearly two weeks since Republican presidential nominee John McCain announced the Alaskan governor as his chosen running mate and these are the first non-scripted words the American people have heard from her.

For days now, the media has obligingly reacted as if J.D. Salinger had suddenly decided to break his decades-long silence. Caught up in an anticipatory frenzy usually reserved for damage-control celebrity sit-downs -- Paris Hilton on "Larry King," Tom Cruise on "Oprah"-- everyone seemed to forget that this is a vice presidential candidate, a public servant who should not be playing hard to get with reporters and whose main job it is to articulate the positions and policies of her ticket.

Even Gibson acted as if he feared this might be the one shot the entire Fourth Estate gets, conducting what was essentially a high-level, high-pressure interview with a job candidate who quickly revealed that her skill set is heavy on can-do-attitude, and light on company policy comprehension. Appearing momentarily stricken by some of the almost professorially pointed policy questions -- and embarrassingly baffled by his reference to the Bush Doctrine -- the Alaskan governor never missed a beat, though in fine political style she managed avoid to more questions than she answered, or at least answered in a way that had little connection to the question.

An early question about her experience on the international stage led to a wonky description of her attempts to free America of its foreign oil dependence. Increasingly specific questions about Iran and Pakistan were answered wth carefully vague though inarguably aggressive phraseology: America must never blink, or second-guess Israel. It should "keep an eye on Russia" and exercise all options regarding terrorism but work to create a world in which war was not the first option.

"War," Sarah Palin said with seeming utter sincerity, "is hell."

Palin seemed to relax a bit during the "Nightline" interview when, as she and Gibson strolled along the trans-Atlantic pipeline, the news anchor grilled her about her disagreements with McCain on global warming and drilling. She seemed willing to concede that human activity may be contribuing somewhat to the effects of global warming, but stuck with her support of drilling on 2,000 acres of now federally protected wilderness.

"I’m going to keep working on that with him," she said with a smile.

Still, the inevitable parsing and analysis of Palin’s answers and performance in this interview, however tempting, is almost beside the point. In this case, her actions, or non-actions, have spoken much louder than any words. She didn’t blink, she told Gibson, when McCain asked her to join his ticket. But she certainly blinked after. What sort of reform-minded politician waits two weeks before giving an interview?

Since when it is OK that the American people have to wait in breathless anticipation for its nominated candidates to speak to them en masse? Since when do we have to rely on a single interview, from a single source, to introduce us to a woman who claims she would be privileged to lead us?

In a world that is measured by milliseconds, a broken-up hour is too short to offer, a week is simply too long to wait. Such manipulation of a public moment is simple exploitation. If Palin was trying to prove that she’s just a sense-talkin’ hockey mom from Alaska, she couldn’t have gone about it in a more wrong-headed way.

- Mary McNamara

Comments () | Archives (29)

"These are the first non-scripted words the American people have heard from her." Non-scripted? Are you kidding?

Mr. Gibson was extremely unfair to Mrs. Palin when he asked if she believed in the Bush doctrine. The word doctrine was not in her vocabulary. Mr. Gibson should have used common language in the interview.

The first and only important assumption you made in your atricle was that Palin's answers were unscripted! Where are your biases?

What sort of reform-minded politician waits two weeks before giving an interview?
It boggles my mind, simply very scary if this people get elected, Let's wake up young people of America, this is your Country we are talking about, let's all of us get out and vote and change the course of America.

oh please mary!!! read finnigans article and try if you can to find out the facts. there was so much edited, the part where you say she said about GOD and war, well listen or read the WHOLE comments she made, it is nothing like the way you are portraying it. and I would like to know if obama was asked all these questions way back when he started , if any of the three networks grilled him like this, please find it, where they talked condensending to him. where they asked him to look people in the eye and say he is ready to be not vp, but PRESIDENT. WHERE????? NOWHERE!!!!! AND EVEN NOW THEY DO NOT GRILL HIM LIKE THIS AT ALL AND HE DOES NOT HAVE ANYMORE EXPEIRENCE THEN SHE DOES EXCEPT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT LIKE HE SAYS, HIS OWN WORDS, THAT RUNNING HIS CAMPAIGN GIVES HIM MORE EXPEIRENCE. YOU NAME MARY HIS REAL QUALIFICATIONS, HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS, NAME THEM!!! CAN'T CAN YOU???????????

I wonder why all the focus is on Sarah Palin? Is it because she is a "down home" Git er done" lady and is so much farther outclassed than Hillary Clinton who didn't get her wishes? Sarah Palin speaks for rural and middle class and we feel is a much better representative for us. Hillary, along with too many of the politicians, came from wealthy and elite backgrounds and have no clue what we, the public cares about, but continue to take up more and more of our pay checks through taxes so they can continue their outlandish lifestyles.

And why haven't the media gone over Obama and Biden with a fine tooth comb the way they have on Sarah Palin?

Gibson did a wonderful interview, we should not get mad because Palin is not that bright. We need to accept the truth even if it hurts. We can not blame Mr. Gibson for McCain picking someone not capable for this job as VP. I'm a republician and I'm not going to throw stones at everyone just because Palin was not a good pick. I will do the responsible thing and not vote for McCain/Palin.

Those of you that support Palin need to have your heads examined. This woman should be able to handle any questions that were thrown at her, not only would she make a bad V.P., but just think if McCain kicked the bucket and she became President , we would be up the creek without a paddle. What about the bridge that was built to nowhere in Alaska that was $25 millon?????? What a doosie . . . . .People please wake up. It's too late once they make it into office. Vote Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There have been REPEATED multiple examples now of the journalist interviews SPLICING the interviews to make Palin look bad, hector her multipl

on Wright, on Ayers, on his Fannie Mae friends, on his leftwing community activist suit that forced banks to relax lending (a cause of the current crisis). They should ask Obama why does he lie and call a welfare payment a tax cut? Why did he vote against the born alive victims of abortion getting legal protection? Why cant he admit he was wrong on the surge? Why did he vote for $700 billion for wall st bailout but is for increasing taxes on small business owners? Why does he lie and say hes against gay marriage then tells gay special interest groups he is for gay marriage? Why did he lie about his relationship with William Ayers the terrorist, he claimed he barely knew the guy but THEY WORKED TOGETHER TO SPEND $100 MILLION on a program to increase leftwing indoctrination into schools! This was the Annnenberg challenge grant.

Google the facts, and it will set America free.

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