Do You Agree with the Charlie Gibson Doctrine?


What is the “Bush Doctrine”? Who can say? But we now know something about the “Charlie Gibson Doctrine”—which might also be called the “Elite Media Doctrine.”

Charlie Gibson was the first member of the mainstream media to interview Sarah Palin, Republican candidate for the Vice Presidency. I’m only guessing here, but I’d say Gibson was worried about how he would appear to his media colleagues during the interview. This was a much-anticipated interview and news people country-wide were overtly jealous of Gibson. So Gibson knew he was being scrutinized, and he knew what was expected of him by the media. They wanted red meat, and they got it in the form of one question in particular. He asked Governor Palin, “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?”

This is pandering. Why? Because Gibson wanted to please his media buddies. It’s also dirty pool. Why? Because there is no such thing as “the Bush doctrine.” But Charlie Gibson thinks there is. He stated it as follows:

“The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that — the right to preemptive attack of a country that was planning an attack on America?”

Charlie Gibson should be embarrassed, not because he put the candidate on the spot, but because he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Everybody knows that the media would disapprove if Palin answered “yes” to Gibson’s question. You can tell from Gibson’s demeanor that he believed two things: (1) Palin would have to say yes, and (2) if Palin said yes this would cause trouble for the McCain campaign. Remember, Barack Obama’s singular objection to John McCain has been that a vote for McCain would be a vote for a four-year extension of the unpopular presidency of George Bush.

There’s only one other possibility, and that is that Palin wouldn’t know what to say because she didn’t know what the Bush doctrine is. That’s pretty cynical, though, and an upright media professional would simply have stated the so-called doctrine, without attributing it uniquely to President Bush, and asked if the candidate agreed with it. Imagine how things would have seemed if Charlie Gibson had asked his question that way, without trying to bait Sarah Palin into an uneasy association with a currently unpopular president. Palin could have said yes. No harm, no foul. Next question.

I know some astute observers believe that Sarah Palin faltered, ever so slightly, in response to Gibson. But there’s another way to interpret her response. Perhaps Gibson should be grateful that Sarah Palin answered graciously. The presupposition of his question was false, and yet Charlie Gibson believed it. Palin was forbearing. She did not confront him about his naivete.

We should hope that every candidate would answer an undisguised formulation of Gibson’s question in the affirmative, without equivocation or nuance. It would be shameful if a President did not adopt this view.

Teddy Roosevelt accepted it, that’s for sure. So did Abraham Lincoln, and I believe his conduct of the Civil War is evidence of it. Every President during the Cold War held firmly to this view, which is one reason why there was a Cold War.

It’s plausible to suppose that the Monroe Doctrine, stated in James Monroe’s annual message to Congress December 2, 1823, presupposes a similar commitment. Here is a passage from Monroe’s presentation nearly two hundred years ago:

Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none. But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference.

There has been some controversy about whether Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew beforehand of an imminent attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and deliberately waited for the attack in order to strengthen the grounds for entering the war, which he wanted to do anyway. If the bare suggestion of that possibility is heresy, and beneath the dignity of the President, it is because the so-called “Bush doctrine” is assumed by the American people to be an axiom of American foreign policy.

George Bush, whatever his faults, was right to remind his people that he was duty-bound to protect them from imminent threat with preemptive action. It’s a shame that this required special boldness, especially in the aftermath of 9/11.

Gibson’s question, without its supercilious association with President Bush, ought to be one of the first questions that both Obama and McCain have to answer early in their upcoming debate. Their respective answers could set the tone for the rest of the debate. I wonder what Obama would say. I think we all know what McCain would say.

* * *

Note:

This post was inspired by today’s post by Dennis Prager, who writes:

“All the interview did was reconfirm that Republicans running for office run against both their Democratic opponent and the mainstream news media.

“This year it is more obvious than ever. The press’s beatification of Obama is so obvious, so constant (how many covers of Newsweek and Time has Obama been on?) that media credibility even among many non-conservatives has been hurt.

“Let me put this another way. Charlie Gibson showed far greater hostility toward the Republican vice-presidential candidate than Dan Rather did in his interview with Saddam Hussein or Mike Wallace did in his interview with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Who can disagree?

Getting the Most Out of Your Kindle—Tip #2


Sarah Palin was a newsmaker when her selection as John McCain’s running-mate was announced. Suppose you wanted to read prominent newpaper coverage of her convention speech the following day—in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, or even The Times of London or Germany’s Allgemeinde. Suppose you wanted to sample editorials from all of these papers.

You could have your dog fetch them from the front driveway (if he hasn’t been retired because of illegal immigration). You could make a special trip to your local bookstore and pick up copies of each of these papers. Or you might go online and scan the web editions.

But have you considered using your Kindle? You can subscribe to all of these papers, and more, to be downloaded automatically to your Kindle as soon as they are off the press. But you don’t have to subscribe to several papers, or any papers. Why not just purchase each of these papers for that day only, and read the bits you like? Kindle gives you that option.

Sure, you could go the laptop route and be more or less portable. But you’d need an internet connection, and you’d have something larger and heavier to carry around—unless you have one of those fancy cell “phones” that does it all. What you wouldn’t have, even with the cell phone, is the possibility of reading on a screen more than half the size of an iPhone screen, wi-fi uploads wherever you go, the freedom to read offline with no extra effort, portability when you travel on airplanes, bookmarking wherever you’ve left off in your reading. You wouldn’t be able to mark passages or make notes with ease. You wouldn’t be able to adjust font size to accommodate your reading environment. You wouldn’t have hours or days of battery power.

Use your Kindle to read the newspaper. You’ll be glad you did.

Related Posts:

Kindle Your Reading Habits

How to Get the Most Out of Your Kindle—Tip #1

How to Get the Most Out of Your Kindle—Tip #3

How to Get the Most Out of Your Kindle—Tip #4

Best Political Cartoon of the Weekend—7 September 2008


What Former Aide to Sarah Palin Told CNN


CNN correspondent Christine Romans checked up on some of the bravado expressed by an exuberant Sarah Palin during her speech at the Republican National Convention. You’ll recall that Governor Palin said she had put her predecessor’s luxury airplane on eBay.

CNN thought they should look into that. So they arranged an interview between Wolf Blitzer and Meg Stapleton, former aide to Governor Palin. Stapleton spoke from Anchorage, Alaska. The official CNN version of this interview is recounted with utmost brevity by Romans in her online article “Alaska state jet didn’t fly on eBay”:

“Upon taking office, she [i.e., Governor Palin] wanted to unload what former aide Meg Stapleton called ‘a symbol of corruption.’

“Stapleton told CNN that Murkowski paid too much for the jet, and that it was costing taxpayers money just sitting in the hangar.”

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time – Blogs from CNN.com.

The real story is that, while it’s true that the Governor had the plane listed on auction at eBay, it wasn’t actually sold on eBay, but through a broker, after eBay bids came in too low.

The subtext here is that Palin might have fibbed just a little, or exaggerated the facts . . . or something.

But the real story reported by Christine Romans of CNN is not the whole story. She doesn’t even indicate that Meg Stapleton’s remarks were made during a live and compelling interview she gave with Wolf Blitzer on television today.

You really should see it. I can only imagine what the sophisticates at CNN were expecting from a former aide to Sarah Palin, ensconced in the chilly and woodsy frontier of Alaska. But Ms. Stapleton was impressive. She answered all of Blitzer’s questions about a full range of possible problems candidly and professionally. Every insinuation of possible wrong-doing by Palin was corrected with an articulate and plausible response. And Ms. Stapleton demonstrated unqualified admiration for Sarah Palin that only complemented the favorable impression that Palin herself has made since she was first introduced by John McCain as his running-mate.

Stapleton also demonstrated that Sarah Palin had very capable people working for her in Alaska, and that the big-shot media in the Lower 48 are mistaken if they think their experience and style will intimidate Sarah Palin and the likes of her remarkable associates.

***

For a transcript of Wolf Blitzer’s broadcast from the CNN “Situation Room,” check here. For the complete video of the interview, go here.

Was It Sarah Palin’s Speech or Not?


“Of course, Sarah Palin’s speech was written by someone else.”

How many times did we hear that from the media last night? I lost count. Keith Olbermann will say anything to make sure people know he’s on the far end of the liberal left. So when he said it, it really didn’t count. But others chimed in. Read more of this post

The Easy Ethics of the Liberal Left


The latest media debacle surrounding Sarah Palin’s candidacy for the Vice Presidency brings to mind the easy ethics of the Liberal Left. Read more of this post

What If the Palin Family Had Taken the Low Road?


Let’s imagine that Bristol Palin, in consultation with her family, had decided to have an abortion. The single most talked-about controversy regarding Palin’s VP nomination would be no controversy at all. And there certainly wouldn’t be any talk of “scandal.”

The Palins have not taken the politically expedient path of aborting a child. Can there be any doubt that others have taken the low road, found relief in a woman’s legal right to choose, and avoided a spectacle altogether? It’s possible that for some, political calculation was the most critical factor in a decision to have an abortion.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many candidates for high office have had unmarried daughters who elected to have an abortion (sons responsible for the pregnancy of an unmarried woman should be included in this thought experiment)? But that’s something we’ll never know.

What Campbell Brown doesn’t know about the National Guard


John McCain cancelled a scheduled interview today with Larry King, of CNN. Why? Word is that McCain campaign staffers believe an earlier CNN interview with spokesman Tucker Bounds signaled the wrong kind of attitude for a fair-handed interview. During her interview with Tucker Bounds yesterday (September 1, 2008), news anchor Campbell Brown pressed the McCain representative with questions about Governor Palin’s readiness for the VP slot, given her level of experience. Brown was especially energetic in her effort to get Bounds to name a single specific example of some decision or action of consequence by Sarah Palin as commander-in-chief of the National Guard in Alaska.

Bounds was, I think, caught off guard (unfortunate pun). He didn’t give a specific example. Instead he tried to describe the nature of a governor’s responsibilities vis-a-vis the National Guard. He remarked that governors have the authority to deploy the Guard in various circumstances. At that point, Campbell Brown challenged him and stated unequivocally that governors do not have that kind of authority. She flatly contradicted him about a factual matter.

Since Campbell Brown knew she was going to ask her question, and Tucker Bounds apparently did not, Brown seemed to be in the winner’s corner in this dispute. She was so insistent that Bounds answer the question that it seemed she knew the answer before she asked it. It looked as if Brown had set the trap for poor Tucker: state governors do not deploy the national guard. Brown suggested that governors play almost no role in determining the activities of the National Guard.

I suspect that TV viewers often give news anchors the benefit of doubt when they make factual claims that can be corroborated using a laptop and a link to Wikipedia. But Campbell goofed. She was wrong about the National Guard and wrong about the responsibilities of state governors. (For a helpful explanation of the complicated relationship between state governors and the president regarding deployment of the Guard, see Kavan Peterson’s article here.)

Tonight, Brown’s colleague Wolf Blitzer praised her handling of the interview. Brown and Blitzer described how dumbfounded they were that the McCain camp had cancelled Larry King. But Campbell Brown isn’t vindicated by the facts. So maybe a little self-examination is appropriate here. Maybe she should apologize for trying to corner her guest with a false statement that she probably believed was true.

What say you?

Watch for this TV Ad about Barack Obama after the DNC Convention


pH for America will soon be running a TV ad featuring comments by Barack Obama about the proper use of the Bible in American politics. The ad is slated for release shortly after the Democratic National Convention is over. But you can see the complete video of the forthcoming ad now.

If you want to see the video, click here:

Here are a few discussion questions:

  1. What is the primary thesis of this ad?
  2. How is this thesis supported?
  3. What seems to be Obama’s approach to interpreting the Bible?
  4. Do you agree with this approach?
  5. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this particular ad?
  6. Will this ad influence voters? Do you think it should?

What say you?

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