The Facts Machine

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin & the "Bush Doctrine" (UPDATED)

Look, it's not as much that Sarah Palin clearly didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was when asked a simple, straightforward question about it per se. It's deeper than that.

The point is that Sarah Palin lacks a greater personal context in terms of understanding the world, and this makes her unqualified to be vice president, or president god forbid.

Go to any university and ask any senior in its political science department about the Bush Doctrine, and they will A) know what you're talking about and B) have a stance on it. They have a basic level of background knowledge about the general foreign policy narrative of the last decade. They know that the run-up to the Iraq War included a discussion of preemptive war (striking a nation when there's an imminent threat) and preventive war (striking a nation before they could become an imminent threat). The former has been part of our foreign policy framework for a long time, but the latter is what Bush promoted in those heady days of 2002-3. This is interesting because Charlie Gibson got it a little wrong himself, thinking the doctrine was more preemptive than preventive.

But that's beside the point, which is that Palin had zero idea of the nature of this discussion at all until Gibson spelled it out for her. And that's unacceptable.

It's not enough to have a week's worth of cram sessions with McCain's neocon advisers, Joe Lieberman, etc. There has to be something beneath that, an informed worldview. It's not that Palin has a view I disagree with, it's that she has no view. She's basically a slogan-machine, and not even a very good one. Serious conservatives in the foreign policy establishment understand this.

Obama picked Biden because he thought Joe would be a good Vice President. McCain picked Palin because he thought Sarah would get a few more votes.

UPDATE: No, no, no, Washington Post. While it's true that there is legitimate disagreement about the Bush Doctrine and the legacy of his foreign policy, etc, the fact is that Sarah Palin simply had no idea what the heck it was, and had probably never heard of it before. On WaPo's part, this is the equivalent of crediting a broken clock for being right about the time twice a day.


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