Gov Palin speaks about foreign policy

Few things so clearly show the irrational state of the American polity as Gov Palin’s nomination.  Not only is it astonishing did a major party nominate her, esp. under circumstances that give her a significant chance of becoming President if elected, but worse she is inexplicable taken seriously by such a large fraction of the political community and citizenry

Every interview with Gov Palin has yielded its quota of absurdity.  This was no exception.

Transcript of Katie Couric’s interview with Governor Palin“, CBS News, 25 September 2008 — Part one discussed domestic policy.  The subject here was foreign policy.  As before, she is just not ready for prime time.  Some excerpts:

Couric: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It’s funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don’t know, you know … reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

Most of this is nonsense. 

Such as her repeated assertion that Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives her national security experience.  As has been said a million times on the Internet, I can see the moon — does that make me an astronaut.

The last statement above is equally misleading.  In her 20-odd months as Governor, was she every involved in a trade mission with Russia?  Gov Palin can hardly claim as experience everything that a State employee does during her term of office.   Update:  Making this even more ridiculous is this, from “Are Russian ties a Palin priority?“, Seattle Times, 12 September 2008:

But so far, in her first 21 months of office, Palin has balked at grabbing that opportunity {contacts with Russia}, instead focusing her energies on home-front issues – raising taxes on the oil industry and backing construction of a natural-gas pipeline.

… Opportunities abound for Alaska governors to engage in Russian diplomacy, with the state host to several organizations focusing on Arctic issues. Anchorage is the seat of the Northern Forum, an 18-year-old organization that represents the leaders of regional governments in Russia, as well as Finland, Iceland and Canada, Japan, China and South Korea.  Yet under Palin, the state government – without consultation – reduced its annual financial support to the Northern Forum to $15,000 from $75,000, according to Priscilla Wohl, the group’s executive director. That forced the forum’s Anchorage office to go without pay for two months.

Palin – unlike the previous administrations of Gov. Frank Murkowski and Gov. Tony Knowles – also stopped sending representatives to Northern Forum’s annual meetings, including one last year for regional governors held in the heart of Russia’s oil territory.  “It was an opportunity for the Alaska governor to take a delegation of business leaders to the largest oil-producing region in Russia, and she would have been shaking hands with major leaders in Russia,” Wohl said.

The immediate jump from Couric’s question about trade into national security — sticking to her dozen or so briefing cards? — sounds absurd, but does contain a grain of truth (but she incorrectly states they “comes into the air space of the USA”).

Russia steps up bomber runs near Alaska“, Anchorage Daily News, 28 March 2008 — “MENTAL WAR: US military counts 16 incidents since July.”  Hat tip to Matthew Yglesias, and Patrick.

“The Tuesday intercept occurred outside U.S. airspace but within the air-control territory known as the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone. The Russian planes stayed within international airspace until they returned to base, the Air Force said.”

Some of her views are disturbing, betraying a dangerous lack of understanding about one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.  As seen in the following excerpt.

Couric: You recently said three times that you would never, quote, “second guess” Israel if that country decided to attack Iran. Why not?

Palin: We shouldn’t second guess Israel’s security efforts because we cannot ever afford to send a message that we would allow a second Holocaust, for one. Israel has got to have the opportunity and the ability to protect itself. They are our closest ally in the Mideast. We need them. They need us. And we shouldn’t second guess their efforts.

Couric: You don’t think the United States is within its rights to express its position to Israel? And if that means second-guessing or discussing an option?

Palin: No, abso … we need to express our rights and our concerns and …

Couric: But you said never second guess them.

Palin: We don’t have to second-guess what their efforts would be if they believe … that it is in their country and their allies, including us, all of our best interests to fight against a regime, especially Iran, who would seek to wipe them off the face of the earth. It is obvious to me who the good guys are in this one and who the bad guys are. The bad guys are the ones who say Israel is a stinking corpse and should be wiped off the face of the earth. That’s not a good guy who is saying that. Now, one who would seek to protect the good guys in this, the leaders of Israel and her friends, her allies, including the United States, in my world, those are the good guys.

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20 thoughts on “Gov Palin speaks about foreign policy

  1. Thx for pointing this out. As a foreigner I have no desire to comment on yr “internal” partisan issues generally. But this thing is really puzzling, what does she mean ? I looked up “second guess” in my brick-like Collins dictionary and I still do not get it. My fault probably.

    What is it, then ? A Wilhelm II style carte blanche (clarification: for the Austrians after the Sarajevo asassination) for an allly ? What do you make of it ?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: My guess is that she doesn’t mean anything. She knows little about these matters. She has received a few hours of briefing, training her to respond with a small number of sound-bites. This does not work with a skillful interviewer, even gentle ones like Gibson and Couric.

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  2. “to second guess” means to question whether they were right afaik.

    About the astronauts; Mrs. Palin helped the U.N. Council a lot. Next time when they’re discussing the next U.N. Secretary General they will look at astronauts/cosmonauts only. Those people have seen every country on earth, the whole earth – even half of it at once! No-one else can beat that expertise!

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  3. SO. Thx. However, my question was based on that assumption. Having looked it up I can be more precise: second guess means either “evaluate with hindsight” (an action which has been accomplished) or “attempt to anticipate” (a person`s future action).

    If it is the 1st meaning that does sound like “Do it if you think fit and we will not criticize you”. Or else, in case it is the 2nd meaning, it wd be “why bother what their plans are, they can be trusted to do the right thing” ?

    That is quite a difference although I am not keen on either alternative.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Discussing Israel, both are dangerous. Does this mean that Palin is reckless or just ignorant? Or both?

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  4. Update added to the post

    Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?
    Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia.

    Making this even more ridiculous is this, from “Are Russian ties a Palin priority?“, Seattle Times, 12 September 2008:

    “But so far, in her first 21 months of office, Palin has balked at grabbing that opportunity {contacts with Russia}, instead focusing her energies on home-front issues – raising taxes on the oil industry and backing construction of a natural-gas pipeline.

    “… Opportunities abound for Alaska governors to engage in Russian diplomacy, with the state host to several organizations focusing on Arctic issues. Anchorage is the seat of the Northern Forum, an 18-year-old organization that represents the leaders of regional governments in Russia, as well as Finland, Iceland and Canada, Japan, China and South Korea. Yet under Palin, the state government – without consultation – reduced its annual financial support to the Northern Forum to $15,000 from $75,000, according to Priscilla Wohl, the group’s executive director. That forced the forum’s Anchorage office to go without pay for two months.

    “Palin – unlike the previous administrations of Gov. Frank Murkowski and Gov. Tony Knowles – also stopped sending representatives to Northern Forum’s annual meetings, including one last year for regional governors held in the heart of Russia’s oil territory. “It was an opportunity for the Alaska governor to take a delegation of business leaders to the largest oil-producing region in Russia, and she would have been shaking hands with major leaders in Russia,” Wohl said.”

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  5. Fabius Maximus replies: “My guess is that she doesn’t mean anything.

    Ouch. That was how I read it, too but I did not want to jump to conclusions.

    Fabius Maximus replies: “Discussing Israel, both are dangerous. Does this mean that Palin is reckless or just ignorant? Or both?

    Both, I fear. I do not see how a responsible statesman can give or even appear to be giving a blanc cheque to anybody at all under any circumstances.

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  6. Candidate McCain, come one down!
    Candidate Palin, would you like to buy a vowel?

    I’m sure that they would make an excellent spokesmodels for both Wall Street and the Pentagon. Sadly, I already volunteered for the Richard Dawson/Vanna White ticket.

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  7. Palin seems so frightened of making a substantial gaffe that she is willing to babble platitudes or directly contradict her own clear record in the moment. Over time these are piling up and have made her appear as ludicrous as she was to begin with. It may be that McCain’s recent foray at dodging the debate tonight was designed to move this one into Thursday’s slot and eliminate or postpone the VP debate.

    One can detect in Couric and some other commentators a sort of resentment, given what ‘real’ career women have had to endure, that this person got a free pass to a very high level without being at all qualified, and perhaps on the sole basis of looks and religious background. There also seems to be a feeling essentially of pity at the spectacle of this clueless figure drowning in deep water… a feeling that will not generate votes, to say the least.

    The selection of this person, combined with the recent grandstanding and lurching contradictions prove, in my opinion, beyond any doubt, that we would literally be better off with any lottery winner as President than this flyboy. Ridiculous.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I have never watched a network news show start to finish, and have not watched one live for 35 years. So this video was my first view of Couric in action, and I believe she did a terrific job with this interview.

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  8. For tonight only, the role of John McCain will be performed by a delegation of executives from J.P. Morgan.

    “Cough up $700 billion, or we shoot your credit card.”

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  9. Few things so clearly show the irrational state of the American polity as Gov Palin’s nomination.

    Actually, I think Governor Palin’s story speaks pretty well of the rationality of the American public.

    When she first debuted on the public stage, she had very high favorability ratings as people reacted to her superficial attributes. Then as they got to see her in action, those ratings tanked over the course of a few days. Her support has completely collapsed, even among the most rabid Kool-Aid drinking conservatives.

    In other words, people across the political spectrum have noticed that there is no there there, and are responding accordingly. That’s encouraging, not discouraging.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That is an encouraging view! I hope you are right.

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  10. I certainly hope Jason is right! Juan Cole commented yesterday that McCain has given up serious campaigning and was retreating into a guerilla campaign of personal sniping. However, I won’t relax until I hear that Karl Rove is in the hospitable with something that renders him speechless. We mustn’t forget that voters don’t always determine the outcome; voting machines do.

    And don’t underestimate the Democrats’ ability to snatch defeat out of victory. They’re already doing it with the bailout. McCain and the Repubs are now in the position of claiming they defended the people against Wall Street, while the Dems cravenly rescued the banks.

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  11. I was an undecided Republican but the more this lady talks the less likely that I will vote for my own party’s candidate. If they picked a polar bear as a vice presidential candidate it would be better.

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  12. Palin: “As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska.”

    Palin is wrong – Russian planes do not enter US airapace. From the Anchorage Daily News story mentioned in the post:

    “The Tuesday intercept occurred outside U.S. airspace but within the air-control territory known as the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone. The Russian planes stayed within international airspace until they returned to base, the Air Force said.”
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for catching that!

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  13. She is no more of a joke than Barack Obama. She is simply not as good a bullshitter. I used to lean to McCain. I never wanted BO. Would have rather had Hillary. Now, I have nothing but great hate for both candidates, and our entire government. I am ready to submit to Islam, and welcome in a theocracy, just long enough to have every member of the federal government publicly beheaded.

    Then, we should start all over again from scratch.

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  14. More evidence that America is not buying Palin: the GOP insiders are panicking.

    A growing number of Republicans are expressing concern about Sarah Palin’s uneven — and sometimes downright awkward — performances in her limited media appearances.

    Conservative columnists Kathleen Parker, a former Palin supporter, says the vice presidential nominee should step aside. Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing on the conservative National Review, says “that’s not a crazy suggestion” and that “something’s gotta change.”

    Tony Fabrizio, a GOP strategist, says Palin’s recent CBS appearance isn’t disqualifying but is certainly alarming. “You can’t continue to have interviews like that and not take on water.” …

    There is also no doubt many Republican insiders are worried she could blow next week’s debate, based on her unexpectedly weak and unsteady media appearances, and hurt the Republican ticket if she does.

    People don’t go on the record for comments like this unless they are seriously freaked out.

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  15. $56 billion stimulus bill fails in Senate“, Reuters, 26 September 2008 — Excerpt:

    “The Senate on Friday blocked a $56.2 billion economic stimulus package that would have extended unemployment benefits, increased food aid and funded new construction projects to create jobs … Republicans said they did not have time to review the spending measures properly and the White House said the increased spending could lead to higher taxes or deficits.”
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    Fabius Maximus replies: While fascinating, that has absolutely nothing to do with Gov Palin — the subject of this thread.

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  16. No, Jason, by “bullshitting” I mean long, pedantic, effluvial, five minute long answers to questions that can be dispensed with one or two complete, coherent sentences.

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  17. Comments posted in reply to posts about Gov Palin on Matthew Yglesias blog.

    serial catowner says:

    But this is all part of our slide to third-world status too, kind of Eva Peron type stuff. You or I see a person with brain damage, Palin supporters see a fearless leader who understands them.

    Think about this- she took a job where you don’t have to do anything- Mayor of Wassilla- and by the time she was done they’d had to hire another person to do the job {City Manager} and they were $20 million in debt. She’s a walking black hole of governance, protected by a bodyguard of lies.

    Don Williams says:

    “Hey, at least Sarah Palin knows how to hunt and kill her own food. That’s a very underrated skill — which may be making a comeback in a few months.”

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  18. The evidence that the more Americans see of Sarah Palin the less they believe continues to mount:

    As discussed below, the McCain-Palin campaign attributes all of Sen. McCain’s gravity in recent polls to the economy. But new Quinnipiac and Pew polls provide evidence to the contrary. Specifically, Pew finds that 51% of Americans now believe that Palin is unqualified, up from 37% after her announcement. (Pew’s Andrew Kohut writes: “There is a clear correlation between views of Palin’s qualifications and support for McCain, which may be hurting the GOP candidate. Fewer people see her as qualified to become president, and the balance of opinion toward Palin has grown more negative since early September.”)…

    Quinnipiac’s latest set of swing states polls finds Palin with a net negative impression in several states, including Florida, where she’s spent quite a bit of campaign time. The numbers in Florida are stunning, in a sense; there’s been a net swing of 13 points in Obama’s favor during the past two weeks. He’s even competitive among white voters, with McCain besting him by only five points.

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