Sarah Palin gave an interview tonight to ABC’s Charles Gibson. It should end John McCain’s hopes to be President.
McCain selected a relatively unknown governor and, as far as anyone could tell, an apparently unqualified person to be his running mate, thereby putting her in line to be President of the United States. Nothing we’ve learned about Palin in the last 10 days – little of it encouraging and most of it revealing patterns of dishonesty, secrecy, authoritarianism, abuse of power and extreme religious views — has done anything to refute the initial impression that she has virtually no experience or knowledge that would make her even remotely qualified for the highest office in the land.
In the interview Palin made the jaw-dropping suggestion that "maybe" we should go to war with Russia over Georgia’s break away provinces. She then added the equally provocative notion that the US should automatically accept Israel’s decision to start a war with Iran, without mentioning any caveat about its impact on US interests or any desire to avoid war if possible. She then showed that she doesn’t even know what the Bush doctrine is, the centerpiece of Republican foreign policy.
The main qualities Palin has exhibited have nothing to do with Presidential qualifications. She has shown a remarkable ability to function as a celebrity for the right wing of her Party, something McCain once derided, and an ability to excite the religious right wing whose support McCain desperately needed if he hoped to meet his long held ambitions to be President.
That excitement owes entirely to the fact that she is one of their own — and thus represents an opportunity to expand their influence over judicial appointments and governance — and not to any intrinsic qualifications for high office. Indeed, the same qualities that make her attractive to her most avid supporters are precisely the qualities that make her possible ascension to the Presidency so troubling to others.
The McCain campaign is fully aware of her obvious lack of relevant qualifications. Their denials on this point are belied by the fact they’ve done everything they could to shield Sarah Palin from unchaperoned appearances and media scrutiny. To soften the eventual questioning, they’ve bullied the media, while distracting voters with phony claims. In the meantime, they’ve been scrubbing her record in Alaska and moving swiftly to shut down the ethics investigation into her alleged abuse of authority as governor.
While they hid her from questioning, they spent a week pumping her with as much information as she could handle, hoping that by the time she gave her first interview Thursday night with ABC’s Charles Gibson, she would at least come off sounding a little less embarrassing. It was a vain hope. Even her partisans must have cringed by her stock, sophomoric answers and lack of depth.
All of this should be enough for the nation to say, en masse, "enough of this charade." But the McCain campaign is not done insulting the nation’s voters. All this week they’ve been selling the implicit argument that if Sarah Palin can answer questions from Charles Gibson in complete sentences and without sounding like a complete moron, then (1) she must be qualified to become President of the United States and (2) her selection reflects well on John McCain’s ability to make sound decisions. What are these people talking about?
Sarah Palin’s most revealing response to Charles Gibson was her unqualified statement that she never had the slightest doubt about her readiness to be President. The woman doesn’t even know enough to know she doesn’t know enough.
That astonishing declaration of ignorance, hubris and conceit ought to leave every American demanding that John McCain explain what on earth he was thinking in exposing the nation to someone who needs a week of intense briefings just to answer predictable questions from Charles Gibson and who seems to think being President is little more than memorizing right wing talking points and no more challenging than being President of the local PTA.
The fact that the media has to perform this vetting process is both insulting to voters and absurd; it is making us an international laughing stock. It’s time for the media to say that being qualified to be President is not the same as being able to pass a quiz at the end of remedial course in foreign events. It’s time to demand that John McCain answer for his utter lack of judgment.