Punchy cons

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I've been following the anti-Sarah Palin tirades coming from a handful of conservative pundits who are embarrassed by her interview with Katie Couric. One of those is Rod Dreher, whose string of anti-Palin posts has won him interviews on Good Morning America and Larry King Live. In a recent entry Dreher blasts Palin for failing to come up with a response to Couric's question about Supreme Court decisions other than Roe that she didn't like.

I posted the following comment (slightly amplified for clarity):

When I heard the interview clip, I was annoyed that Palin couldn't come up with the name of another case that she didn't like.

Then I asked myself the same question. I drew a blank. And even though I've blogged about Kelo extensively, and even though I write a weekly column that deals with urban development, I didn't think of it until about 10 minutes later. Had I been the subject of the interview, 10 minutes later would have been too late. "Oh, by the way, Katie, I just thought of another court case I don't like." Katie would have already been through three more subjects by then. Once you're off-balance in that way, you're not going to get back in the groove. At least in Jeopardy, you get several questions in the same category and a chance to get your memory going in that direction.

On the subject of the Couric interview, Rod reminds me of an armchair Jeopardy player. It's really easy, when you're in your La-Z-Boy eating cheese doodles, to get all the answers right and to belittle the contestant who is having a bad day and freezes up in front of all the world and Alex Trebek.

CBS is taking this one bad day and spreading it out over two weeks, making it look like a long series of bad days. Non-panicky bloggers should have realized that after the first segment was rough, the rest of them would have been, too. It's all part of the same interview, and if you'd seen it all on a single day, I think it would have created a different impression.

If you're not familiar with the magic of television, I suppose you might be surprised and outraged that, gee whiz, Palin's interview isn't going any better than the day before or last week.

Further thoughts: I have been interviewed hundreds of times, mostly early in the morning when I'm at my worst. The best interviews were when I knew in advance what topic was going to be discussed and had a chance to think about the key points I wanted to get across. The worst interviews involved a question out of left field, and I had to vamp while coming up with a reasonable sounding answer. I hated getting questions that begin with "What is your favorite..." or "Can you name two or three..." and the worst -- which Katie Couric has used repeatedly in her Palin interview -- is "Besides the thing you just mentioned, name another...." In other words, stop thinking about what you were just talking about and immediately start thinking about something else.

I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by G. W. Schulz, who profiled me for Urban Tulsa Weekly back in July 2005. But one question he asked threw me for a loop. It wasn't a gotcha question. It was quite reasonable:

But when asked in person what stories from the Bible influenced him at a young age, he seems at a loss--either because there's so much to consider, or because, like many bloggers, he better excels at writing fluid, delicately crafted sentences, taking time to insure proper diction, tense and grammar.

In retrospect, a good answer would have been, "I grew up in an environment saturated with Scripture, and asking which Bible stories influenced me is like asking a plant which drops of water were most helpful in its growth and development." Instead, I tried to answer the question exactly as posed.

Another question consistently sent me groping for words, even though I'd almost always get this question right at the end of my weekly updates on KFAQ: "What's on BatesLine today?" or some variation thereof. Almost invariably when I was prepared to plug the site, we'd run out of time before I had the chance.

Within the last year or so, I addressed the City Council on some topic. I delivered a fairly coherent argument and did so forcefully, I thought. As I started back to my seat, Councilor John Eagleton asked me to return to the microphone to answer a few questions. I don't remember the specifics, but one of the questions discombobulated me. We were on the same side of the issue at hand, and Eagleton wasn't trying to throw me off, but he managed to ask me a question which required me to shift mental gears faster than my brain wanted to do.

I am not a dunce or intellectually incurious, although if you judged me the way that Dreher and his fellow punchy cons are judging Palin, you might jump to that conclusion. Most of the time I manage to be articulate, even when speaking extemporaneously or when asked an unexpected question. But sometimes I have bad moments on good days, and sometimes I have completely bad days, when I can't shift gears as fast as I need to.

Sarah Palin, who defeated a sitting governor in her own party's primary and went on to beat a former governor in the general election, had a bad hour or so in an interview with Katie Couric, a bad hour that has been stretched out by CBS editing into a week or so. CBS has succeeded in inducing panic in a few conservative Chicken Littles. If I were one of them, I'd be embarrassed at being so easily manipulated by an organization with a clear agenda to defeat conservatism by any means necessary.

I don't expect these observations will win me a slot on Larry King Live.

MORE:

Here's video of Palin's 2006 general election debate with former two-term Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles:

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14 Comments

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

Yeah, that whole "name another case" thing is really unfair. It seems like a trick.

Unless you are an attorney preparing for a trial or a hearing, or an abortion activitst at the executive highest level, you are NOT going to be able to name another case on ANYTHING. Even when attorney's do go to trial or a hearing, the best ones take a copy of the cases that they are going to use with them.

Test:

Can anyone name another case that coincides with or disputes Brown v. Board of Education? Do it NOW in front of the white hot camera light.

Mike B Author Profile Page said:

"Unless you are an attorney preparing for a trial or a hearing, or an abortion activitst at the executive highest level, you are NOT going to be able to name another case on ANYTHING."

I would add to that list "candidate for VP of the United States" as well.

First, the Couric interview wasn't just an isolated "bad day." The Gibson interview was pretty bad as well. Second, I don't think crises around the world will be so inclined as to let the VP get comfortable and relaxed before that individual needs to make a decision. In fact, in real life, a VP may just have to "Do it NOW in front of the white hot camera light." The Palin apologists seem to forget what job she's applying for. It's TOUGH. The executive branch of the U.S. may be the toughest job in the world. MOST people aren't qualified, either by education, experience, or temperament for the position. That's why the selection process is such a death march for the candidates. I don't want someone like me, or a "Joe six-pack" in that position. I want the mutant who has been staying up all night since he or she was a kid reading books, newspapers, magazines, BLOGS, etc. and learning about the issues to such an extent that he or she can at least talk intelligently about a subject that isn't that familiar. I WANT a member of the "elite." It's an elite JOB.

If the Couric interview is an example of the threshold where Palin can't be expected to take hold of her emotions and distractions and get the job done, then she's NOT QUALIFIED.

However, I do enjoy the feeding-frenzy of conservatives now attacking EACH OTHER as "Georgetown cocktail-party" elites. I wondered where all the yahoos who used to run the democratic party into the ground went to get new jobs. Now I know. Thanks for the show, guys!

sbtulsa Author Profile Page said:

Criticism of Palin in the media process (being interviewed) misses the point. We are voting for what is between the ears, in the heart and soul, and principles that guide these people. Performance in 60 second increments has nothing to do with leadership and legislation.

I don't do well speaking out loud on short notice. But when contemplating and writing, I get my point across. That doesn't make me an idiot, just a plodder.

I believe Palin is what the founding fathers and the proponents of term limits had in mind. An intelligent person with a fresh approach and ideas. Her responses to Curic's questions have no bearing on what really matters.

Mike B Author Profile Page said:

"I don't do well speaking out loud on short notice. But when contemplating and writing, I get my point across. That doesn't make me an idiot, just a plodder."

And it makes you unqualified to hold executive office in the United States of America. There are plenty of people out there who are perfectly nice, moral, respectful, intelligent individuals who are not qualified for this job. This is the BIG TIME, not just a chat around the kitchen table with a few friends. If intelligence reports were to show Iranian missiles suddenly being fueled en masse and their leadership taking shelter, I really don't think the world has time to wait for the decision of someone who doesn't like to be "pressured." That's the crux of this while thing: The pressure Gov. Palin has been put under, from Katie Couric for God's sake, is NOTHING like the pressure that is on a real VP. If she can't handle thinking and deciding under pressure in a TV interview, she can't handle the pressure when the bailout bill hits the fan.

Bob said:

A leader like Gov. Sarah Palin is assisted by a staff of dedicated, knowledgeable and motivated associates who generally CARE about the success of the team, and of their country.

Chas. Gibson and Katie Couric's mission was totally different:

Try to trip up and embarrass a VP Candidate that they philosophically adamantly disagree with. A game of Gotcha.

There is a WORLD of difference between having a sneaky, publicity seeking Main Street Media attack dog at your throat, and deliberating on the future welfare and safety of our country with close advisors, in peace or even in a crisis.

A few weeks ago, when Mr. Benanke and Mr. Paulson went to see the President in the Wall Street melt-down, they didn't go to win debating points. And, they didn't invite any reporters to "assist" them.

They went to present the problem and its risks, offer potential solutions, answer the President's and HIS ADVISORS questions, and then GET HIS DECISION.

They didn't hold a press conference until the deliberations were DONE.

The press has a role, and being a partisan advocate and calling it "journalism" isn't one of them.

Mike B Author Profile Page said:

So, was it also "gotcha" when an actual VOTER asked her about Pakistan, and McCain had to change her answer for her later? Is there anyone out there that conservatives don't see as part of some conspiracy to destroy them?

From his previous comments here (e.g., this one), it's apparent that "Mike B" wouldn't be voting for Sarah Palin even if she had multiple doctorates. "Rethuglicans," indeed.

Mike B Author Profile Page said:

Correct Mr. Bates, I would not be voting for someone whose views and policies I disagree with more than the other candidate. However, that has nothing to do with the issue being discussed: that of Gov. Palin's objectively-assessed qualifications to become VP of the United States.

By the way, I wholeheartedly apologize for the "Rethuglicans" comment comment I made six months ago. I didn't realize it would haunt you for so long. I hear insults directed against Democrats all the time, but I manage to put on my big-boy pants and take it like a man. In my defense, that comment was in the heat of a discussion with some mouth-breathing morons comparing Obama with Stalin. While I may disagree with the views of the others posting on the current topic, I have at least found them to be presenting an articulate viewpoint that they have thought about. I promise to play nice!

sbtulsa Author Profile Page said:

"And it makes you unqualified to hold executive office in the United States of America. There are plenty of people out there who are perfectly nice, moral, respectful, intelligent individuals who are not qualified for this job"

I disagree. If we do nothing but base our decisions on what we see in media sound bites, contrived lists of questions, and mock debates we are using superficialities to guide our decisions. When you compare Palin's acceptance speech at the convention with the Couric interview, you get two different impressions. Even tonights debate will not be the sum total of Palin's abilities, just a snapshot. All in all,I vote on the substance of what I hear over time, not in just one venue or interview.

Mike B Author Profile Page said:

"I disagree. If we do nothing but base our decisions on what we see in media sound bites, contrived lists of questions, and mock debates we are using superficialities to guide our decisions."

Um...all questions are "contrived", which means "devised" or "planned." Also, this is not a "mock" debate. It's a real debate that will be occurring tonight.

Having said that, I don't see how you can hold up Palin's acceptance speech as indicative of any superior ability. You do know that it was written out, practiced, and read from a teleprompter, right? (Naturally I apply the same standard to any other politician's canned speeches. They don't mean a lot.)

"All in all,I vote on the substance of what I hear over time..."

Ok, could you let me know what you have hard from Palin that leads you to think she is QUALIFIED for national executive office? I understand that you may have ideological beliefs that are the same, but pretending she is interviewing for a job called "VP of the U.S.", what are her QUALIFICATIONS to, for example, act as president pro temp of the Senate the day after her inauguration? What are her QUALIFICATIONS to assume the position of President if the worst should happen, and allow her to make intelligent and well-founded decisions regarding issues such as 1.) a surprise terrorist attack on the U.S. from unknown agents, 2.) sudden military and intelligence information about a potential threat to the U.S. or its interests, where the facts are muddled but the decision is still needed and the Pres. must "Do it NOW in front of the white hot camera light", 3.) lead a recalcitrant Congress to enact some type of emergency legislation in the midst of an economic crash, 4.) organize and lead mobilization of law enforcement and medical response to a sudden infectious epidemic?

sbtulsa Author Profile Page said:

I don't want to see "qualifed" limited to those who have been in the executive branch (cabinet included) for an extended period of time. I don't weant to see qualifed limited to senators of long service who have created many of the problems we are trying to solve today. The whole idea of Palin is, again, that she is a washington outsider. We now have a debt ceiling of 11 trilion dollars, that level needed because of the 800 or so billion dollar bailout of the financial industry. Biden, O'Bama and McCain all were in the senate while this travesty of greed was going on. Where was the oversite? And yes I think McCain should have been forceful about the impending financial crisis earlier.

As far as Palin's qualifications that attract me:

1) Her profession of her faith
2) Her stand on abortion
3) Her accomplishments/initiative as governor of Alaska.
4) the fact she hasn't been corrupted by Washington

As far as McCain, his service to the nation including his time as a POW. I am impressed with his courage while in captivity. I will take the substance of the person over the resume any day.

McCain and Palin will have the expertise and service a cabinet, the numbers of whom are such that they completely fill any meeting room in the White House or EOB. Both impress me as being able to learn fast, process information and make a decision.

I have no problem with either of them taking a call at three in the morning. Why? Because their staff will have briefed them thoroughly (which is the case with all Presidents and VP's). And they will both have presence of mind in a crisis.

Mike B Author Profile Page said:

"1) Her profession of her faith
2) Her stand on abortion
3) Her accomplishments/initiative as governor of Alaska.
4) the fact she hasn't been corrupted by Washington"

I can see that we have a different definition of the word "qualification." However, your comments interest me. For instance, you cite "1) Her profession of her faith." Does that make Obama then more qualified than McCain? McCain is well known as one politician who does not like to talk about his faith and is very private about it. In contrast, Obama has been quite open about professing his acceptance of Christianity as a young man. Also, while it is certainly legitimate of you to use any criterion you wish in order to cast your vote, this seems more like a judgment on whether the person is culturally more like you than any objective qualification. The same with "2) Her stand on abortion." It's your prerogative to use this, but it seems unlikely to really matter since McCain would be the President and is, AT BEST, someone who may agree with anti-abortion views, but who has no intention of putting any effort into changing the laws to reflect his beliefs. Additionally, Congress makes laws, the Executive does not, so her personal beliefs on the subject will have no effect.

You state you like "4) the fact she hasn't been corrupted by Washington" is relevant to you. Would you then agree that if exposure to Washington is evidence of corruption, then McCain's service there since 1983 makes him more corrupted than Obama, who has only been there for a few years?

"3) Her accomplishments/initiative as governor of Alaska." This one startled me a bit. She has only been Governor for 18 months. Could you name the accomplishments or initiatives that have impressed you?

I note throughout your post the desire to shake up Washington and have someone in power who isn't tainted to lead. What influence do you think she will have on the greater culture of our government? Also, you state that "I will take the substance of the person over the resume any day." Does that extend to all jobs, such as airline pilot, heart surgeon, etc.? Would you be comfortable undergoing a dangerous and complex operation by someone who agreed you you about abortion, but was just out of med-school, even if "their staff will have briefed them thoroughly"? Something tells me in that situation, you'd want the experienced surgeon, even if he was a liberal.

Eight years ago, would the Sec. Cheney have allowed a mere reporter, even a national anchor, to control an interview?

Palin did.

And that's what is so shocking.


Brent Taylor Author Profile Page said:

To Mike B., resident Batesline contrarian and Dimocratic hack:

(1) In contrast, Obama has been quite open about professing his acceptance of Christianity as a young man.

Baloney...on record Obama has said the Sermon on the Mount so radical, our Supreme Court would reject it. Obama claims Christianity when convenient, but has openly said there are many ways to heaven - a tenet Jesus certainly would not agree with. Obama is at best a modern day Pharisee.

(2) Her stand on abortion." It's your prerogative to use this, but it seems unlikely to really matter since McCain would be the President and is, AT BEST, someone who may agree with anti-abortion views, but who has no intention of putting any effort into changing the laws to reflect his beliefs. Additionally, Congress makes laws, the Executive does not, so her personal beliefs on the subject will have no effect.

Quite the contrary. You said the same thing about Bush - and he in turn elected two Conservative judges to the Supreme Court which allowed the partial birth abortion ban to be passed. Obama, on the other hand, did everything in his power to try and override the decision. Personal beliefs are the essence of changing Roe V. Wade and electing SCOTUS.

(3) Her accomplishments/initiative as governor of Alaska.

She's got an 80% approval rating. Can you point me to one of your lib party members that can make that boast?

(4) What influence do you think she will have on the greater culture of our government?

Quid pro quo - exactly what influence besides bad do you think Obama will exert being that he attended a blatantly racist church and his judgment so bad that his daughters were in attendance to hear that garbage? Or are you going to give me the line like Obama did that "he didn't hear that", though he attended the church for 20 years?

I think it funny you think Obama a special talent. He is an obvious quota attendee and legacy at Harvard via the father. Away from the teleprompter, he's been shown to be a buffoon who doesn't even recognize the states that adjoin his own. Obama won't allow his records to be released (I wonder why?) so I must assume he is at best a marginal student. And if you are going to give me the Ivy League credentials, let me remind you George W. Bush has not one but two degrees from America's "top" colleges - including Harvard.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 1, 2008 10:16 PM.

Mrs. Bates on Gov. Palin was the previous entry in this blog.

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