The interviewer’s name was Charlie

Sarah Palin scored points for knowing her interviewer’s nickname, but didn’t do so well on the actual questions. Most notably, she went all “moose in the headlights” when asked about the Bush Doctrine. Jim Fallows explains why Palin’s ignorance is troubling:

What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the “Bush Doctrine” exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years.

Fred Kaplan’s recap in Slate is excellent:

The other spine-chilling moment came when Gibson asked about her recent comment, in a speech at her church, that the war in Iraq is “a task that is from God.” (ABC then showed a YouTube clip of the speech.) Palin tried to finesse the question, saying that her remarks were only “a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words” that we should pray not that God is on our side but that we are on God’s side. Gibson didn’t back down, noting that she had in fact gone on to say, “There is a plan, and it is God’s plan.” To this, Palin replied:

I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that these are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That in my worldview is a grand—the grand plan.

Two things came to mind upon hearing her say these words. First, they sound like the earnest answer given by a contestant in a beauty pageant when the M.C. asks her about world peace. (Sorry to seem sexist, but it’s true; read it again.)

Second, and more to the point, do we want someone a heartbeat away from the presidency—and a 72-year-old cancer survivor’s heartbeat, at that—to possess both impetuousness (“You can’t blink”) and holy certitude? Isn’t that what we’ve had, actually in the Oval Office, the past eight years?

Robots are wired to react a certain way, but people are required to think.

Here’s the bonus beauty queen interview for comparison:

In other news, Lorne Michaels Wants Fey for SNL’s Palin:

Saturday Night Live creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels said the show is talking with Tina Fey about playing Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin at some point this season, possibly as soon as this Saturday’s season premiere.

This would be superb, of course.

Making progress in Iraq

I don’t know what to make of the claims that we’re finally making progress in Iraq, because we’ve been lied to so many times already. So this is significant:

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird said Thursday that his recent trip to Iraq convinced him the military needs more time in the region, and that a hasty pullout would cause chaos that helps Iran and harms U.S. security.

“I believe that the decision to invade Iraq and the post-invasion management of that country were among the largest foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation. I voted against them, and I still think they were the right votes,” Baird said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

“But we’re on the ground now. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work.”

…Baird said he would not say this if he didn’t believe two things:

• “One, I think we’re making real progress.”

• “Secondly, I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.”

Baird was my Congressman when I lived in Washington, and I’ve been getting his constituent e-mails for years. If he believes we’re finally making progress in Iraq, then so do I. It’s one thing for invasion-boosters (as I was) to claim progress, as they’ve pretty much been doing that all along, but when invasion-bashers make these claims, it’s news.

Link via Protein Wisdom.

Sounds like fun

Today’s debate in the US House is the sort of thoughtful deliberation I like to see:

The fiery, emotional debate climaxed when Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the most junior member of the House, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

“He asked me to send Congress a message: stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” Schmidt said.

Democrats booed and shouted her down, causing the House to come to a standstill.

I believe poor Mr. Murtha is sincere but misguided, and because of that, doesn’t deserve being called a coward; Ms. Schmidt should dial her rhetoric down a notch.

The Republicans aced the Democrats on this one. Murtha’s resolution was basically an immediate troop withdrawal with all sorts of loopholes and caveats that would have provided too much cover to members trying to have it both ways. It’s right that the troops in Iraq should know that their mission is, and how its success will be measured.