On Nightline last night, ABC aired an extended portion of Charles Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin. In one segment (video below the jump), Gibson asks the Republican vice-presidential nominee whether she agrees with the Bush Doctrine. Palin, who seems unfamiliar with the phrase, sighs and purses her lips almost sadly for Gibson. Here's the exchange:
GIBSON: "Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?"
PALIN: "In what respect, Charlie?
GIBSON: "What do you attribute it to be?"
PALIN: "His world view?"
GIBSON: "No, the Bush Doctrine, enunciated in September 2002, before the Iraq war."
PALIN: "I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism…"
Palin went on to mention mistakes Bush had made in the execution of the Iraq war, and to talk about change in Washington, getting back on more familiar territory. When Gibson explained that the Bush Doctrine was a policy of military preemption, Palin expressed support for it.
Democrats will likely try to spin her lack of knowledge about the Bush Doctrine as a sign of her lack of foreign-policy experience and unpreparedness to make important military decisions.
The Washington Post printed another perceived gaffe on the front page. Reporter Anne Kornblut quoted Palin from a speech she gave to her son's Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers, in which she seemed to link the Iraqi government to Al Qaeda's attacks on September 11. She labeled the troops' mission as one of "[defending] the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans." "America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before September 11, 2001," she added. Even President Bush by now has publicly dropped the theory that Iraq had anything to do with the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
Some argue that this is an unfair interpretation of Palin's quotes, but expect the Obama campaign to seize on this alleged blunder as well. Now the challenge for them in the coming days, as Palin has more off-the-cuff speaking opportunities, will be to take advantage of other perceived slip-ups while at the same time not seeming to run against her, instead of McCain.