Channeling Dubya

Apart from the "regurtitate your talking points" aspect of the evening, there were other things to find troubling in the Gibson-Palin interview. Here's Kristen Soltis, on Palin's habit of giving forceful answers to questions where nuance, or even an outright dodge, would be more appropriate:

No doubt Palin has been prepped by Steve Schmidt (Rove's protege), Nicolle Wallace (former Bush staffer). So maybe that's why I'm so sensitive to Bush-sounding language ...  But something about it all just made me feel uneasy, like I'd seen it all before in an exchange between President Bush and Helen Thomas ... and I didn't want to see it all again.

David Frum, on the same point:

A president does not need to know everything. In fact, it's certainly impossible for him (or her) to know everything that he might possibly need to know. That's what the White House staff - and beyond them the whole vast apparatus of the US government - is for. Collectively, the US government knows a lot. And all of that knowledge is at the service and disposal of the president. All the president has to do is - is ask.

But that's not as easy as it sounds.

Somebody who knew President Bush well once remarked to me. "You'll notice he never asks questions."

"Why not?" I said.

"Because he doesn't know what it's okay for him not to know."


Again and again through the ABC interview with Sarah Palin, Gibson asked questions to which an evasive answer would have been perfectly appropriate ... But Palin never punted. She tried to bluff her way through, pretending to know what she obviously did not know. It's an understandable impulse, and in the context of a single interview, not so very terrible. But is it an impulse that she'd lay aside once in office? Or is it a deeper habit? A lot may turn on the answer to that question.