From the WaPo
“At times visibly nervous . . . Ms. Palin most visibly stumbled when she was asked by Mr. Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. Ms. Palin did not seem to know what he was talking about. Mr. Gibson, sounding like an impatient teacher, informed her that it meant the right of ‘anticipatory self-defense.’ “
– New York Times, Sept. 12
Informed her? Rubbish.
The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.
Sensing his “gotcha” moment… after making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained … that the Bush doctrine “is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense.”
I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term…. I suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush doctrine.
Then came 9/11, and that notion was immediately superseded by the advent of the war on terror…. [The] “with us or against us” policy regarding terror… became the essence of the Bush doctrine.
Until Iraq… [when] Bush offered his major justification by enunciating a doctrine of preemptive war. This is the one Charlie Gibson thinks is the Bush doctrine.
It’s not. It’s the third in a series and was superseded by the fourth and current definition of the Bush doctrine, the most sweeping formulation of the Bush approach to foreign policy and the one that most clearly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.
While I admit that Palin’s interview was not very good at all… her weaknesses were accentuated by ABC and Gibson. From the camera angles, to the positioning of Gibson and Palin, to Gibson’s demeanor, to the questions… it was all set up to make Palin look bad.
Regardless, she should have handled it better.
BUT people are criticizing Palin left and right for not knowing what the Bush Doctrine was and making fun of her…. And ok, so Palin didn’t get it exactly right, but neither did Gibson.
She pointed out the “with us or against us” terrorism definition, he pointed out the pre-emption one.
As Krauthammer so deftly points out in this article, the term “Bush Doctrine” has been morphed so many times as to render it nearly useless as a fixed term with a fixed definition.
Even the hardcore policial scientists and analysts I know don’t use the term and if they do, they qualify which one they are talking about. Most of them just say “Pre-emptive strike doctrine” or “flower of Democracy doctrine” or or or or.
Good thing he didn’t look like a condecending prick when “informing” her… Oh, wait…
UPDATE: Thanks to my readers who just pointed this out… apparently large sections of very good and cogent answers were edited out of the interview. (CLICK HERE)
Shame on ABC…. not only was the set design, the questioning and Gibson’s demeanor designed to make her look bad, but they take it one step further and manipulate the interview through creative editing. These qualitative and cogent statement give her much more creedence and authority.
The media is continually disappointing me.