The Palin Doctrine

I drove to Pittsburgh yesterday to visit with my Mom and Dad, and my brothers and their families. As with most of the country, it appears that we’re pretty much evenly split on the upcoming presidential election. But we agreed on one thing. The furor over Sarah Palin and the so-called Bush doctrine is ridiculous.

The short take: Charlie Gibson earlier this week interviewed Sarah Palin for the ABC newscast and for 20/20. He asked her views on the Bush doctrine. Ah, apparently the Alaska governor didn’t have that one nailed down. Does anyone?

Well, no.

Apparently there are many versions of the Bush Doctrine. Here’s from a Washington Post article by the same title.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seemed puzzled Thursday when ABC News anchor Charles Gibson asked her whether she agrees with the “Bush doctrine.”

“In what respect, Charlie?” she replied.

Intentionally or not, the Republican vice presidential nominee was on to something. After a brief exchange, Gibson explained that he was referring to the idea — enshrined in a September 2002 White House strategy document — that the United States may act militarily to counter a perceived threat emerging in another country. But that is just one version of a purported Bush doctrine advanced over the past eight years.

Peter D. Feaver, who worked on the Bush national security strategy as a staff member on the National Security Council, said he has counted as many as seven distinct Bush doctrines. They include the president’s second-term “freedom agenda”; the notion that states that harbor terrorists should be treated no differently than terrorists themselves; the willingness to use a “coalition of the willing” if the United Nations does not address threats; and the one Gibson was talking about — the doctrine of preemptive war.

Maybe Barack Obama should have selected Gibson to be his vice president running mate. It appears that Charlie is the only one who can explain the Bush doctrine. As though that is important for some reason.

And good grief. Isn’t it a little late to learn that Bush was following a plan — a “doctrine”?

Oh well. The national debate centers now on whether Palin has the experience to be vice president — and more importantly, president. And the media talking heads can flap their tongues all they want — I don’t think it matters to the majority of voters.

David Paul Kuhn writing on Politico lists “5 Reasons Why McCain Has Pulled Ahead.” One — that Palin has energized the Republican base and closed what is being called the “enthusiasm gap.” Is experience an issue. Well, not really. And if it is, it’s not a concern limited to just Palin.

“While Democrats have continued to hit at Palin’s inexperience, only 36 percent of likely voters believe Palin lacks the proper experience while 47 percent said the same of Obama.”

And what’s going on with Obama? A year ago I really didn’t think that the Democrats could possibly lose this election. Of course, I thought, like most, that Hillary was going to be the nominee. Still, Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post (and distributed to The Plain Dealer) has an interesting view, one that links Obama and Palin, “Palin’s trajectory similar to Obama’s.”

“But Palin is not just a problem for Obama. She is also a symptom of what ails him. Before Palin, Obama was the ultimate celebrity candidate. For no presidential nominee in living memory had the gap between adulation and achievement been so great. Which is why McCain’s Paris Hilton ads struck such a nerve. Obama’s meteoric rise was based not on issues – there was not a dime’s worth of difference between him and Hillary on issues – but on narrative, on eloquence, on charisma.

“The unease at the Denver convention, the feeling of buyer’s remorse, was the Democrats’ realization that the arc of Obama’s celebrity had peaked and entered a period of its steepest decline. That Palin could so instantly steal the celebrity spotlight is a reflection of that decline. It was inevitable. Obama had managed to stay aloft for four years. But no one can levitate forever.”

Well, we’ll see. As the philosopher Yogi Berra opines: “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”

By the way, not much talk in Pittsburgh yesterday about the game tonight between the Steelers and the Browns. I guess unlike presidential elections some contests are just never in doubt.


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