Step Up – Speak Out

Gavin Leighton

Barack Obama and Joe Biden have used the same tactic in their ads and public speeches. Their goal is to convince the American citizenry that electing John McCain and Sarah Palin is comparable to a third term of Bush and Cheney. It is true that McCain voted with Bush the large majority of the time and shares a similar tax agenda, as well as maintaining the same sort of brash foreign diplomacy. But what is most telling, and what Obama hasn’t seized on, is that Sarah Palin is more like George W. Bush than John McCain ever was or is.

During her interview with Charlie Gibson of ABC, Sarah Palin fielded an array of questions ranging from Trooper-gate to abortion. Gibson posed a pretty straightforward question to Palin when he asked if she agreed with the Bush Doctrine. For what seemed like an infinitely long pause, Sarah Palin was only able to reply, “In what respect, Charlie?” Stunned and caught like a deer in headlights, Palin must have been scrambling to come up with a sufficiently vague answer in hopes that she not be exposed. Much hey was made over this back and forth, but I fear it was somewhat premature.

Also, during the course of the interview Gibson asked her if she had had any second thoughts about joining John McCain on the ticket. With force, Sarah replied that she “didn’t blink” when asked and that she is equally ready and committed for the White House. I wouldn’t have made much of this answer had Sarah Palin not repeated the phrase about refusing to blink ad nauseum. While she may not be able to articulate the doctrine, she does exemplify it.

It is hard to say when sober contemplation went out of style, but the new paradigm is certainly on display. Both Sarah Palin and George Bush are the quintessence of the new rationale. Constructing sound arguments has become passé while reckless judgment has become fashionable. Is blinking a problem? Probably not. If we had blinked in 2002, and possibly listened to Hans Blix, we might not have been mired in an unnecessary two-trillion dollar conflict; a conflict which has emboldened anti-American sentiment worldwide and caused tens of thousands of deaths. I am aware this is all after-the-fact speculation, but since Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction, a little more effort in non-violent diplomacy could have gone a long way.

Soon after the abysmal interview with Charlie Gibson, the McCain campaign, more specifically Rick Davis, was quick to point out Sarah Palin would be avoiding any interviews or questioning unless the interviewer showed “some level of respect and deference.” Come now, people in the United States are expected to believe she can handle Vice Presidential pressure but not questions from TV anchors? For two terms now, the White House has shown open disdain for the press. The sitting president is notoriously shy and the current Vice President simply despises answering practical questions. Why not employ the same tactic with Mrs. Palin?

The charade starring Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity notwithstanding, the general public cannot tolerate this sort of condescension any more. Reporters act as an extension of the American public; it is their duty to ask our questions. Ignoring such questions is disrespectful to reporters and to the American public. The government answers to the people, not the other way around. Hiding behind a veil is unacceptable when running for president and vice president; if you don’t want that kind of scrutiny, don’t run for one of the most public positions in the world. The arrogant attempts of the McCain campaign to shelter their candidate is frustrating at the least.

Despite the phrase, “one heartbeat away from Presidency,” becoming hackneyed overnight, it still maintains a valid thrust. When selecting a Vice President, you make the assumption they can step in and do a decent job. I have to assume the McCain campaign believes as much, since they did, to choose her. On this assumption we are to accept Palin could be president, but somehow is not swift and graceful enough with words to construct eloquent and sufficient responses to difficult questions.

The Presidency of the United States comes with some unwritten pre-requisites, one of those being skilled in fielding tough questions. We have all seen what happens when a president doesn’t meet that standard. Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign have a decision to make. They can continue to try to maintain the fa?cade that Palin could run the country without answering to the American press or public, or they can treat her like a Vice Presidential candidate. If she is not up to the task, then Sarah Palin, or someone in the McCain campaign, should have blinked before moving forward.