Skip to main content

Palin stumbles in first televised interview. Just the jitters? Or more?

By Philip Anselmo

They're saying Sarah Palin stumbled, struggled, sidestepped, misstepped and was caught off guard in an interview with ABC's Charles Gibson that was aired in part last night. It should however be noted that none of the reports failed to note her confidence and poise on camera despite what her interviewer exasperatedly called her "blizzard of words."

From the New York Times:

Ms. Palin was clearly caught off guard when Mr. Gibson asked, “Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?” Seeking direction, and perhaps time to formulate an answer, Ms. Palin leaned back, smiled stiffly and said, “In what respect, Charlie?”

Initially unwilling to define the doctrine, Mr. Gibson said, “What do you interpret it to be?”

Ms. Palin asked, “His world view?”

Mr. Gibson said, “No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.”

Ms. Palin responded: “I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation.”

Mr. Gibson, finally defining the doctrine as “the right of anticipatory self-defense,” still struggled for a direct answer, asking twice more if she agreed with it before Ms. Palin answered: “Charlie, if there is a legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country.”

From the Los Angeles Times:

By turns tense and combative, Palin, 44, used two interviews with ABC anchor Charles Gibson to display her grasp of issues central to the vice presidency.

She acknowledged that, other than a trip last year to see troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Germany, her only visits abroad were to Mexico and Canada. And she said that she had never met a head of state but that she did speak last week with President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia.

On the issues, Palin said that "we (as Americans) do not have to stand for" Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, Georgia and the Ukraine should be welcomed into a NATO alliance and "man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming."

What do you think? Was Palin a bumbling boob, a confident rock, a candidate to be proud of or one to be feared? Where do you think she will go from here?

UPDATE (by Howard): Here's the interview:

Mark Wiatrowski

I saw a good portion of this interview on the World News last night. Mr. Gibson was asking some hardline questions and I think she handled herself rather well. No matter what her answers were going to be,the media is going to spin and twist her answers against her. If I were her, I would have answered the above questions the same way knowing that the media is just looking for ways to discredit her and plain make her look bad.

Mr. Gibson was doing his job, Sarah was doing hers. McCain/Palin is still my vote.

Sep 12, 2008, 9:07am Permalink
lazario ladou

Forcing Palin to attack or fall prey to something that perhaps exists only in the minds of the American people is pretty unfair, if you ask me

To the general public
Is likely to mean a guess -wild ass guess- as to what will happen next
"Anticipatation" to a trained/talented/intelligent/wise man/
Is as much a skill as it is a guess

Giving a direct answer to this question is like giving a succinct description of string theory understandable by all

This is like reading a line from Fat Albert and asking someone what it says about Bill Cosby as a person

It sure seems to be a not too well disguised hole in the ground trap

Initially unwilling to define the doctrine, Mr. Gibson said, “What do you interpret it to be?”

Ms. Palin asked, “His world view?”

Mr. Gibson said, “No"

What is that?
The most shocking thing here is that Palin didn't run right through that opening.

What do you interpret it to be
NO, you cannot interpret it that way
Lets just interpret it as meaning THIS
...walk towards my hole

We should be interested in Palin
Not what she thinks about past presidents

"She acknowledged that, other than a trip last year to see troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Germany, her only visits abroad were to Mexico and Canada."

Well, I've never smoked before but I do think it's unhealthy
I've heard much of Africa is hungry

this received a paltry last paragraph -death breath-compared to the belittling of character/experience

Where is here? LOL

Sep 12, 2008, 9:39am Permalink
Philip Anselmo

Mark: I agree. For the most part, she did seem to handle herself well. But I think it's unfair to say that "the media" twisted her answers against her and are only out to "make her look bad." That Palin had no knowledge of the "Bush doctrine" and that she considered her insights on Russian foreign policy valid because "you can see Russia from Alaska" are not a result of media spin.

Sep 12, 2008, 10:11am Permalink
Mark Potwora

They ran and it unedited on Nightline last night..and her answers were more that just one liners...New York Times is very bias paper..McCain/Palin they got my vote...Remember Joe Biden said that McCain was more ready to be president that Obama.Clinton claimed the same thing.Joe Biden even went so far as to say he would be McCain running mate if ever asked....

Sep 12, 2008, 10:12am Permalink
Sherry Tacy

Sarah Palin seems rather adept at stating the obvious with a loose interpretation.
"You know, there is a very small percentage of Islamic believers who are extreme, and they are violent and they do not believe in American ideals".

Really, Sarah? That "very small percentage" managed to plot catastrophic results.

Sep 12, 2008, 10:28am Permalink
Mark Wiatrowski

If the media is not doing the twisting, then who is? What I noticed yesterday were two obvious edits during the interview where you can see definite splits in the tape. I know they didn't run the whole thing on World News for time constaints, but it just looked suspect that there were breaks in the middle of what they did broadcast.

Sep 12, 2008, 10:38am Permalink
Daniel Jones

How is this twisting, her posture, body language and direct answers can't be edited out....this is an untested leader who isn't ready for the national stage.

Sep 12, 2008, 10:51am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I heard all I need to know about Palin's foreign policy position. The Dems want make an issue of Palin's experience (as if Obama is any more experienced), but it doesn't really matter if she knows what the Bush Doctrine is or whether she's ever met a foreign leader. What matters is her basic philosophy.

She made it pretty clear. She's an interventionist. Like Bush, like McCain, like Biden, like Obama.

Why doesn't Charlie Gibson ask Obama what he thinks of the Bush Doctrine? Many Democrats would be shocked by the answer.

Here's an article from <a href="">The Nation</a> -- a pretty liberal, anti-GOP magazine -- that outlines Obama's militaristic, intervention foreign policy position. If you look at what he says about dealing with Iran, it's basically the Bush Doctrine.
<em>But Obama has refused to rule out going to war against Iran, in the event that Tehran moves forward with its nuclear program in defiance of international opposition. Even if it was a grudging nod to political expediency, his June 4 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) impressed hawkish Jewish leaders. "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power... everything," he said, adding, "I will always keep the threat of military action on the table." </em></blockquote>
If Palin became president, she would be surrounded by experienced advisers. The experience part doesn't worry me. What worries me is that she'll pick advisers based on what she believes, and what she believes is the same-old empire building that both Republicans and Democrats have been pursuing for decades.

Here's what <a href="">Bill Kauffman</a> has written about Obama's foreign policy views:
Obama's limitless internationalism is encapsulated in his statement that "When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern." This is, quite possibly, the most expansive definition ever essayed of the American national interest. It is a license for endless interventions in the affairs of other nations. It is a recipe for blundering into numberless wars-which will be fought, disproportionately, by those God & Guns small-town Americans evidently despised or pitied by Mr. Obama. It is redolent of the biblical assurance that not even a sparrow can fall to the earth unnoticed by God. The congruence of the roles of the deity and U.S. foreign policy in Obama's mind is not reassuring to those of us who desire peace and a modest role for the U.S. military.</em></blockquote>
A lot of Democrats seem to think in voting for Obama they're voting for the peace candidate -- I've seen the bumber stickers -- but that's not the case at all. He opposed Iraq not because he opposes US intervention in other nations, or nation building, or disarming rogue regimes. He just said it was the "wrong war at the wrong time." Perceptive, maybe, but dovish? Hardly.

So that's why I think all of this concentration on whether Palin has visited Russia or not is beside the point. What does she believe? That's what's important. That will determine her actions more than what's she's done up to this point in her life.

Sep 12, 2008, 10:56am Permalink
Philip Anselmo

Mark: I linked to articles in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the Boston Globe and some other one or two that I forget, all of which echoed the sentiments expressed in the Times. Are they all biased? Who isn't biased? Where do we go for our news if all of the media is biased? What does it mean to be biased? Is biased simply the label we apply to news that doesn't unabashedly express our own views?

I don't think it's fair to simply slap the "biased" label on a paper like the New York Times and then just wash our hands of its content. There are problems with the NY Times, there's no denying that. But whatever bent a news organization may take, there is much to be gleaned from the coverage, especially from such a paper as the NY Times.

Sep 12, 2008, 11:00am Permalink
Philip Anselmo

If we want to get into what Palin believes, we first of all can't just dissociate such comments as that about being able to make policy judgments on Russia because you can see the country from Alaska, because such comments are structured by inherent beliefs. Setting that aside, the quote from Bill Kauffman posted by Howard gets right to the "what she believes" issue.

Here's Palin on the war: "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God."

That's belief. That is belief that intervention is not only intervention, but it's divine. In other words, the United States military is carrying out God's will.

Sep 12, 2008, 11:23am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

American imperialism/exceptionalism has always been driven by religious fervor. You can say it's "from God" or "<a href="">manifest destiny</a>, but it all ads up to the same thing.

Every war-time president from Washington on down has called on God to favor and bless the United States. We have a strong history of believing God is on our side. There is nothing extraordinary about Palin's quote.

Roosevelt closed his first inaugural address: "In this dedication of a nation, we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us! May He guide me in the days to come."

John F. Kennedy: "The world is a very different now...and yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God."

Jimmy Carter: "You can not divorce religious belief and public service. I've never detected any conflict between God's will and my political duty. If you violate one, you violate the other."

Sep 12, 2008, 11:43am Permalink
Philip Anselmo

Howard: Very much so. This is a nation whose first major contribution to philosophy was the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who believed very much in the everyday motivation by God and the unity of purpose. And though his conception of God may have been quite different from the American Christians of today, the fundamental structures of both beliefs are allied in more ways than they differ.

That being said, there are nuances worth noting in the different ways in which presidents and other such national luminaries invoke God. Taking just these three examples, plus the comment from Sarah Palin — who, in fact, cited Lincoln as her source — we can see:

1. Roosevelt invokes God through the form of prayer, seeking blessing: a humble and passive stance.

2. Kennedy invokes God as the source of liberty and the giver of transcendence, and thus inviolability, to freedom: a political stance.

3. Carter invokes God as the source of his actions: a personal spiritual stance.

4. Palin invokes God as the immediate and particular source of the United States' war on Iraq — as, you could say, "the" commander-in-chief: a truly interventionist stance that is none too shy about situating the U.S. in the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament. (We should note that Bush has said as much on several occasions, if not having said exactly the same thing.)

All told, Palin is much closer to Carter in her invocation than she is to either Roosevelt or Kennedy.

Sep 12, 2008, 12:16pm Permalink
Patrick D. Burk

It is poignantly clear that she is not ready to lead in any sense of the word. She may be the best Governor there ever has been in Alaska...but I wonder about how she would handle "real world - international" issues. I actually think she is inept at best. There is also a major breach on how she would address the economy, housing mortgage and job situation. Her grit and her accomplishment should be admired but why is she any more qualified than any other small town mayor in this country? For those that say look what she has done for Alaska....well let her finish the job there - at least one term - and then move on.

Good lady, great mother but does not share my views philosophically.

Sep 12, 2008, 12:22pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

Everybody here makes good points, I agree with some things everyone is saying.
The whole idea of religion or lack of expressing it would keep every political issue to an easy cut and dry 5 minute arguement.
There are so many issues that without religious affiliation, would be a simple yes or no. Maybe a quick explaination and then move on.
If you could omit anything that has to do with religion then you could not quote most of any history of the creation of our United States of America. I was taught that people immigrated from Europe to America IN THE HOPES OF PRACTICING THEIR OWN RELIGIONS, that they were other wise prosecuted for in their own country. (among other reasons).
People still write books about this and teach it in schools. You just cant keep it out of politics and you cant keep people disagreeing about it.
I would prefer to have the point made that America believes strongly in protecting its people and other nations FROM: "terrorists" people threatening America, Bad people, no good nicks, enemies, blah blah blah. But try not to say anything about their religious affiliations.
It just cant be done.
How do you make laws and keep civilization going ?
Who defines what is moral ?
Why is killing wrong ? Is that religious or just being civil ?
Survival of the fittest, so if i want it i take and you loose ?
What makes anybody believe in anything or feel the way they do ?
Do I make any sense ?
Politics was born through religion.

Sep 12, 2008, 3:41pm Permalink
Jerome Grasso

Take away the teleprompter and watch Obama twist and turn. Does anybody remember how he twisted and stammered when being interviewed by that minister a month or so ago? Why is it that he will not do Town Hall meetings with McCain? Perhaps he is not ready to lead.

Sep 12, 2008, 4:07pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Mr. Grasso-HA! Matt Damon has a right to speak his mind, as you so frequently point out, just like everyone else. It is amusing though that he seems to hit the nail on the head, the thought of her staring down Vladimir Putin does give me some worries.

As far as the "squirming" of Barack goes, watch him handle O'Reilly with class.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src="; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Sep 12, 2008, 10:38pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

Is public speaking or intense interviews under live scrutiny the main issue to vote for any official.

Most con artists or serial killers have been proven to be the most comfortable under a stressful interviews without a teleprompt and the best pass a lie detector.

I think the speaches and interviews should make every "human being" nervous and under pressure.

The media will tear everyone up with the psycho analysis just to change voters minds.

Barak sitting, Palin leaning, Only fifty days left.

I have never been on a job interview for the prez or vice prez but I know how darn nervous i was and that was just to be a fast food worker.

If I went by the stuff the media is pumping i would say they are all "crazy".

Sep 12, 2008, 4:41pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

She is a dancer and a bad one at that. Putting aside the policies of failure that she stands for, that was real embarrassing.

And yes, being able to speak on the fly is important for a leader. If you don’t have a clue of what you’re doing, you likely can’t verbalize it either.

Sep 12, 2008, 4:55pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

Well , I am not a politician but If I went by certain criteria like that (dancing,speaking on the fly) I wouldnt vote for anyone. Bush was president for 8 years and he can sound like an idiot when he speaks. Most people dont approve of what he has done. I thought she seemed weak but i wasnt embarrassed. Besides we are talking about a VP not the prez. Chenney was a real good talker and look at that ?

Sep 12, 2008, 5:15pm Permalink
lazario ladou

and yet got elected

I liked the OReilly Obama joust
Obama is a quick thinker and argumentative but he's a lawyer
argumentative not meant as a negative at all but he does reach out to touch the person he's arguing with

His laugh is about 60% shady

Sep 12, 2008, 8:25pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Here's a must read column by <a href="… Krauthammer</a> on Palin's supposed gaffe -- the real gaffe was by Charlie Gibson, who clearly did not know what he meant by "Bush Doctrine."


Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."



<blockquote>the most sweeping formulation of the Bush approach to foreign policy and the one that most clearly and distinctively defines the Bush years: the idea that the fundamental mission of American foreign policy is to spread democracy throughout the world. It was most dramatically enunciated in Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." </blockquote>
And the conclusion is nice, too.

<blockquote>Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what it is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage. </blockquote>

Sep 13, 2008, 10:40am Permalink
lazario ladou

If he knew the "Doctrine"
as if such a thing truly exists

(the correct one or stand-in)

he wouldn't have had to look at/call upon his memorization of notes left him by the crew at CBNBCNNickelodeon News which I'm sure he did

"as I understand it" LOL RIGHT
Is he not sure, either? Who is right? The interview was blown right there for Gibson

"free-thinking society" was not stuck in very well
That was Palins quick-thinking showing through but she obviously isn't anywhere near as skilled as Obama at making it look true to him/herself
It flattened off at the end like a fairytale though she couldn't even make herself believe it

"in what respect, charlie"
I thought that was great/very good. It may be seen as confusion and simple stall tactic in order to think up something but it was also done with confidence -perhaps IMO only- a quick jab at Gibson
a "sizing up" of her opponent
Right after she leans to the side giving that
Hmmmmmm, whatch you got? attitude
Very confident

"wha wha wha..wel well what do you think" LOL
opens his arms to God looking for something to say back quickly so as to keep his intellectual facade intact

Palin came off as a fighter and very demonstrative
Gibson to a much greater extent than Palin a fake

Palin has speech gaps/pauses and raMPS up when she thinks shes on to something that will work in her favor but also wanes when something isn't going to work

Sep 13, 2008, 12:27pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

He got elected twice (he seemed better than the second choice Kerry). Bush, BUT :

I would listen to mr. Barak Obama speak all day.
I think he will be a future president.
I dont believe he has the "backing" to actually do what he says he wants if he wins.

AS I see things :

The democrats messed up.

McCain will win by default. Barak vs. Clinton sealed that fate no matter what. (i am not political expert just an embarresed registerd demo voter).
Palin is just the target but real threat to future politics PERIOD.
If you took a young hillary and kept her husband outta politics then you get sarah choice.
Palin has too much proof of how down to earth and related to all of Americans when it comes to her family and no- political stuff.

Sep 13, 2008, 4:15pm Permalink

Authentically Local