THE DAILY BLADE: No One – Not Even Bush – Understands “The Bush Doctrine”


Charlie Gibson’s three-part interview (video) with Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin last week scored big in the ratings, reports trade pub Broadcasting  & Cable:


Charles Gibson's interview … on Thursday's World News elevated the broadcast to its most-watched installment since February.

World News
was watched by 9.73 million people with a 2.5 rating/10 share in the 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

That was more than 2 million more viewers than NBC's Nightly News (7.51 million viewers with a 2 rating/8 share in demo) and 3.57 million more viewers than CBS Evening News (6.15 million, 1.6/8).

The portion of the interview that created the most buzz was Gibson’s “gotcha” line of questioning on the Bush Doctrine that Palin gamely parried as she tried to figure out what, exactly, he was asking her to comment on until Gibson clarified his question with what turned out to be an incomplete explanation of the Bush Doctrine:


Gibson: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?


Palin: In what respect, Charlie?


Gibson: The Bush - well, what do you - what do you interpret it to be?


Palin: His world view.


Gibson: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.


Palin: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. …


Gibson: 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?


Palin: I agree that a president's job, when they swear in their oath to uphold our Constitution, their top priority is to defend the United States of America. …


Gibson: Do we have a right to anticipatory self-defense? Do we have a right to make a preemptive strike again another country if we feel that country might strike us?


Palin: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend. …


Gibson: But, Governor, I'm asking you: We have the right, in your mind, to go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government.


Palin: In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.


Gibson: And let me finish with this. I got lost in a blizzard of words there. Is that a yes? That you think we have the right to go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government, to go after terrorists who are in the Waziristan area?


Palin: I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell bent on destroying America and our allies. We have got to have all options out there on the table.


Funny, but Tom Brokaw had no trouble following Barack Obama’s stuttering, stammering responses to his questions on “Meet the Press” back in July and made no complaint about the torrent of words the candidate used to say not much of anything (second item). Is Gibson trying to say that Palin talks too much - like all women?


The double standard aside, The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund was among many who found Gibson's questions “tough but largely fair,” except when “[h]e brought up the ‘Bush Doctrine’ without any explanation of its content and asked her what she thought of it.” But The Washington Post’s media critic Tom Shales noted that Gibson seemed to have undergone a personality change when conducting that first interview:


Usually likable and personable on-screen, Gibson seemed uncharacteristically pompous during part of the first interview … But in subsequent sessions with Palin, he was his old chummy self. …


Gibson sometimes appeared pretentious and imperial, and asked many questions in a low, grumbling mumble. With his glasses pushed down near the end of his nose, he looked like a professor questioning a student, trying to trip her up - which he did when he asked Palin whether she concurred with "the Bush doctrine." …


Somewhat condescendingly, Gibson explained to Palin that the Bush doctrine has to do with "anticipatory defense" and the use of a "preemptive strike" against a potentially hostile power.


Amazingly, the most sympathetic reactions to Palin’s predicament over the Bush Doctrine came from Dem operatives and pundits not known to be favorably disposed towards conservatives. Case in point: Shales quotes James Carville as saying he’s “not surprised” that Palin didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was – and in the context of Shales reporting, his comment wasn’t meant to disparage Palin. What Carville meant was that the Bush Doctrine has morphed so many times that no one knows what, exactly, it encompasses anymore.


WaPo columnist Dan Froomkin concedes, “I'm not sure anyone is entirely clear on what the Bush Doctrine is at this particular moment.” Froomkin quotes Jacob Weisberg, who enumerated six Bush Doctrines in his book “The Bush Tragedy”:


Bush Doctrine 1.0 was Unipolar Realism (3/7/99-9/10/01); Bush Doctrine 2.0 was With Us or Against Us (9/11/01-5/31/02); Bush Doctrine 3.0 was Preemption (6/1/02-11/5/03); Bush Doctrine 4.0 was Democracy in the Middle East (11/6/03-1/19/05); Bush Doctrine 5.0 was Freedom Everywhere (1/20/05- 11/7/06); and Bush Doctrine 6.0 (11/8/06 to date) is the "absence of any functioning doctrine at all."


Weisberg’s analysis was borne out by the WaPo’s interviews with several foreign policy experts – a couple of whom actually had a hand in crafting at least one of the Bush Doctrines - on its various incarnations:


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. …


In an interview, Bush press secretary Dana Perino said that "the Bush doctrine is commonly used to describe key elements of the president's overall strategy for dealing with threats from terrorists." She laid out three elements:


“The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor terrorists. ... We will confront grave threats before they fully materialize and will fight the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them at home. ... We will counter the hateful ideology of the terrorist by promoting the hopeful alternative of human freedom.”


You can compare those interpretations with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s latest stab at an explanation, as well as this critique by Robert Kagan, former speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz and a foreign policy advisor to GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

As WaPo columnist Charles Krauthammer – who coined the term “Bush Doctrine” to describe the earliest manifestation of this amorphous set of principles


If I were in any public foreign policy debate today, and my adversary were to raise the Bush doctrine, both I and the audience would assume -- unless my interlocutor annotated the reference otherwise -- that he was speaking about the grandly proclaimed (and widely attacked) freedom agenda of the Bush administration.


Not the Gibson doctrine of preemption.


Not the "with us or against us" no-neutrality-is-permitted policy of the immediate post-9/11 days.


Not the unilateralism that characterized the pre-9/11 first year of the Bush administration.


Presidential doctrines are inherently malleable and difficult to define. The only fixed “doctrines” in American history are the Monroe and the Truman doctrines which come out of single presidential statements during administrations where there were few other contradictory or conflicting foreign policy crosscurrents.


Such is not the case with the Bush doctrine.

Based on this information, if you go back and re-read Palin’s answers, she was clearly feeling her way through Gibson’s faulty premise to try to answer his question best she could – but not because she knew any less about the Bush Doctrine than her interviewer. Her first instinct to maneuver Gibson into being more specific was perfectly understandable, and her first answer to his first attempt at clarifying his inscrutable question - “his world view” - was actually dead-on.


Why Elites Don’t Serve In The Armed Forces


During Columbia University’s ServiceNation Presidential Forum on the seventh anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, Judy Woodruff of PBS’s “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” demonstrated that she understands as much about volunteerism as Charlie Gibson does about the Bush Doctrine.


In this exchange, John McCain neatly turns the shopworn liberal canard about poor, uneducated minorities fighting our wars right back on Woodruff:


Woodruff: The qualifications for joining the Army have been lowered today. Thirty percent of new enlistees don’t have high school diplomas. That’s the highest percentage ever. The percentage of young people who are either black, Hispanic, or who come from a lower income household is disproportionately high in the military. All this, while the sons and daughters of privilege, for the most part, your sons excluded, don’t have to consider military service. … [I]s there something about this picture that you think needs to change, this social imbalance?


McCain: Well, I would remind you in the days of the draft that it was then most unfair because the lowest income Americans served and the wealthiest found ways of avoiding draft. … I’m proud that my daughter graduated from this school [Columbia]. But do you know that this school will not allow ROTC on this campus? I don’t think that’s right. Shouldn’t the students here be exposed to the attractiveness of serving in the military, particularly as an officer? … I would hope that these universities would re-examine that policy of not even allowing people who come here to represent the military and other Ivy League schools and then maybe they will be able to attract some more.


The Wall Street Journal notes that both candidates called upon Columbia University to join four other Ivies - Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania ROTC back on campus – but the audience booed when McCain made the appeal and remained silent when Barack Obama echoed his sentiments ("I recognize that there are students here who have differences in terms of military policy. But the notion that young people here at Columbia or anywhere, in any university, aren’t offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake.") when it was his turn to be interviewed by Woodruff and Time magazine editor Rick Stengel. Clearly, this crowd of elites much prefers community activism to military service for themselves and their children.


Woodruff also labors under the mistaken belief that volunteer work is largely performed by “people of some means, that can take a leave from their job or they may not need to work” and McCain disabused her of that notion:


First of all, my experience has not been that the wealthiest people do the most volunteering. In fact, I think it is average citizens that do the most, in all due respect to rich people. But the point - it seems to me it’s the average citizen that’s the first to respond. …


I’m very pleased at the volunteer effort in America. I’m very pleased at what we’ve seen around this country, particularly as we’re in difficult times. I think we can be proud of Americans. And obviously, if we need to take some steps to encourage that or make it easier for them, I’m all for it.


Perhaps Woodruff was thinking of liberals - the only people with whom she obviously socializes - because according to Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks liberals are far less charitable than conservatives. Washington Post columnist By George Will highlighted these findings from Brooks’ book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism”:


Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).


Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.


Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.


Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.


In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

People who reject the idea that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.


Will explains these stats with the observation that “[t]wo influences on charitable behavior are religion and attitudes about the proper role of government” and that “America is largely divided between religious givers and secular nongivers, and the former are disproportionately conservative.”



Naughty Monkey Double Dare or Apepazza Musa?: You Decide


The Wall Street Journal reports that when Sen. John McCain announced that AK Gov. Sarah Palin would be his running mate, the red pair of peep-toe pumps she was wearing were  Naughty Monkey’s Double Dare style, a shoe which the company’s brand director Jay Randhawa says are “a very edgy, very hip, very street brand” favored by twentysomethings who like to go clubbing (before Daily Kos misinterprets this, he means club hopping, not clubbing baby seals). At first blush, The Stiletto and other shoe cognoscenti pegged the footwear as Apepazza’s Musa style. The shoes are almost identical in every detail, but the Naughty Monkey’s are cheaper ($90 v. $150). Still, if you must have these shoes and the Naughty Monkey version is sold out, you can make do with the Apepazza version.   


Editorial Note: The Journal mentions a detail about Palin’s shopping habits that will endear her even more to women coast-to-coast, particularly the “Wal-Mart Moms”):


Just before she was offered the nomination two weeks ago, Gov. Palin went shopping at Out of the Closet, an Anchorage-based secondhand store, with her 14-year-old daughter Willow and her infant son Trig. She picked up a Juicy Couture coat for Willow and a tweed blazer for herself by Escada, which is one of her favorite labels, a saleswoman says.


The saleswoman, who gave her first name as Alison but wouldn't disclose her last name, says Gov. Palin comes in often and is friendly with the store's owner, Ellen Arvold. Ms. Arvold says Gov. Palin has shopped at the store since before she became governor. She confirms that Gov. Palin has worn some Out of the Closet purchases on TV since she clinched the nomination, but declined to say when.


A spokeswoman for the Escada label said she was unable to identify any of Gov. Palin's outfits on the campaign trail as Escada and was unaware that the governor liked the brand.


This revelation will be catnip to Maureen Dowd and other catty media elites, who can now look down on Palin for being a Second Hand Rose. Dowd has already sneered that Palin is “our new Napoleon in bunny boots (not the Pamela Anderson kind, but the knock-offs of the U.S. Army Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boots)” It never occurred to Dowd that with a hunky stay-at-home husband and five kids, Palin has to economize where she can. But then, Dowd doesn’t have kids. Or a husband, like so many of the women she hangs out with.



The Stiletto Scoops Jon Friedman


Barack Obama is running as Chauncey Gardiner - his lofty rhetoric induces voters to project onto him qualities that transform him into a uniter, a change agent and a post-racial candidate.

- “We’ve Seen This Movie Before,” The Stiletto Blog, April 7, 2008


To many Americans, Palin is the real-life version of Kevin Kline's character in the movie "Dave," an ordinary Joe who has been thrust into the white-hot White House environment. Or, perhaps, she reminds others of "Chance," the accidental political hero of "Being There."

- “Sarah Palin and Charlie Gibson star in 'High Noon' in Alaska,Jon Friedman’s Media Web, MarketWatch, September 12, 2008   


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