My Beliefnet colleague Rod Dreher watched the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson and came away a bit less than impressed. He described her performance as “scripted and overprepared” which doesn’t bode well for assuring the independent vote that McCain must court to win. Personally, I haven’t watched the interview but I did read the excerpted transcripts online, and I was actually somewhat reassured by her answer to at least one question:
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders
are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting
a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s
words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what
God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak
But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that’s a repeat in my comments,
was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time,
but let us pray that we are on God’s side.
GIBSON: I take your point about Lincoln’s words, but you went on and said, “There is a plan and it is God’s plan.”
PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for
this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great
potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with
inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe
that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of
That, in my world view, is a grand — the grand plan.
You know, that makes sense. Her original response that the war in Iraq was God’s plan echoed President Bush’s clumsy reference to the war being a “crusade”. This clarification, and evocation of Abraham Lincoln, sit well with me.
Another aspect of the interview that I also liked was her characterization of the big picture:
GIBSON: We talk on the anniversary of 9/11. Why do you think those hijackers attacked? Why did they want to hurt us?
PALIN: 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, and they attacked us and now we are at a point here
seven years later, on the anniversary, in this post-9/11 world, where
we’re able to commit to never again. They see that the only option for
them is to become a suicide bomber, to get caught up in this evil, in
this terror. They need to be provided the hope that all Americans have
instilled in us, because we’re a democratic, we are a free, and we are
a free-thinking society.
Granted, she did not answer the question, but I like what she had to say here (emphases mine). Whether McCain’s administration would actually put deeds to these words, or follow the Bush example of rhetorical commitment alone,
Now, while I was pleased by these answers, the rest of the interview seems to have been a complete mess. The biggest glaring problem was that she seemed utterly unaware of what the Bush Doctrine was (and this was after her intense cram sessions in prep for the interview!). Her answer with respect to Iran and Israel was blatantly canned, she was completely wrong about previous VP’s experience, and her insistence that she had zero hesitation when asked to join McCain came off as smug and arrogant.
Will the interview make any real difference, however? I don’t think so. Not until the debates will we really see anything she says have an impact one way or another. September is still Palin’s alone.