Palin: The Katie Couric Interview

Posted by Katherine | September 26, 2008 – 10:34 pm
Palin in Couric interview
[Notraces Flip Side / Flickr]

Mainstream media winced a lot (even on the conservative side) over Palin’s two-part interview this week with Katie Couric. The blogosphere today served up very similar reactions. (Help us dig up the smart contrarians here!)

Timothy Burke teaches African history, among other things, at Swarthmore. He felt Palin resembled students of his who bluff their way through things they don’t understand. Like any good teacher, he offers some advice:

My first reaction to watching the video wasn’t political, it was much more like how I feel seeing this as a teacher: a sympthetic wince. Whomever is sitting down and trying to cram with Palin is making a bad mistake. She’d be a lot better off if she didn’t to try to seriously talk about how Putin is rearing his head and floating into Alaskan air space and so on. I suspect that her personal instincts about how to answer these kinds of questions are better than the staffers who are trying to infuse her with Stature [tm] at the last minute. She’d be better off she just laughed and said, “No, of course I wasn’t serious that proximity to Russia gives me foreign policy experience. What’s important in foreign policy isn’t prior experience, it’s common sense and a solid confidence in who we are as a people.” If someone threw a gotcha at her, rather than bluff at an answer, she’d be better off just saying, “Tell me a bit about what you mean?” or “I’m not familiar with that term, I have to confess”. Socratic reversals and humorous self-deprecation are stock in trade for the talented bluffer. As is knowing when you’re in over your head: the skilled bluffer knows when to leave some important matters in the hands of those ready to handle them.

Philosophy professor hilzoy doesn’t shy away from expressing his/her opinion that Palin is not the information sponge she needs to be:

[S]he has been surrounded by briefers for nearly three weeks, and she’s still completely unable to string together an intelligent thought on the mortgage crisis. […] It would be nice if the running mate of one of the oldest candidates for President ever had some ideas about these issues. Since she’s been prepping constantly, it’s pretty alarming that she doesn’t.

I served with quick studies. I knew quick studies. Quick studies were a friend of mine. Sarah Palin: you’re no quick study.

Knoxville lawyer Brendan Loy likes “nerdy stuff” like Lord of the Rings and meteorology. He thought Palin’s interview “truly was startlingly, frighteningly bad.” After feeling a bit at a loss to describe it, he finds his voice and doesn’t mince words:

It’s just unbelievable that this person is on a major-party ticket running for national office. Her problems go well beyond inarticulateness — though she does make George W. Bush sound like a great orator by comparison. But this is incoherence. Her responses betray, by all appearances, a total inability to organize her thoughts in any meaningful way. Unreal. […]

Of course, all politicians speak, to some degree, in platitudes and generalities and talking points. All politicians dodge some questions. But Palin does nothing else. She shows no ability whatsoever to think on her feet. She simply tries to recite what she’s been told to say, and often gets hopelessly lost in the process.

A lot of bloggers focussed on Palin’s comments about Russia and the financial-bailout plan, but probutcool conservative blogger Rod Dreher zeroed in on a different moment. He thought Palin’s equating travel with elitism was a political cheap shot. Rod says his upbringing was very similar to Palin’s — but he still found a way to save money and satisfy his curiosity about the world:

Palin is only three years older than I am. We come from the same class, and both grew up in small rural towns. […] When I was a young adult, I worked summer jobs, and saved enough to go travel in Europe when the fares were super-cheap. […]

I can’t know for sure what Sarah Palin’s economic circumstances were when she was young and free to travel, but it must be remembered that never before in history was it so easy for people of our class to see the world, if we so desired […]. I suspect the truth is that Palin simply didn’t have the intellectual curiosity to travel abroad and learn from other cultures. That’s not a sin, but it is to be regretted in someone who puts herself forward as a leader of the world’s pre-eminent power. What is a sin, or at least a mark against her character, is to frame one’s disinterest in the world beyond the border of one’s experience as a sign of populist virtue.

Brad Listi, a novelist and creative writing prof at Santa Monica College, has been reimagining, in the wake of the Couric interview, what might happen in the VP debate with Biden. He’d assumed that, because of low expectations for Palin, it would be hard for Biden to be tough without appearing “sexist or abusive.” Now he wonders whether Palin might sink below the low expectations:

[T]he more that I hear from Palin, I think it’s entirely possible that Biden, if he performs well, could absolutely run away with this thing. The possibility exists that Palin could be so far in over her head that even the most true-blue conservatives won’t be able to lie to themselves as they watch her implode at the podium.

Mike from the conservative Rhode Island blog Axis of Right holds out hope that the winning, self-confident Palin will re-emerge:

[I]n the words of our party’s Presidential candidate, it’s time for some straight talk. Sarah Palin was downright awful in her recent interview with Katie Couric on SeeBS, and frankly, we could see it coming. The Sarah Palin we’ve seen on the stump during the past two weeks or so is not the same Sarah Palin that has wowed the State of Alaska for two years. […]

One of the biggest mistakes a campaign can make is to overprep a candidate and it is clear the McCain campaign is overprepping Palin. Fortunately, this is fixable. […]

All McCain needs to do is to allow Palin to be herself and I think he will. Palin was popular in Alaska for a reason, she supported the right policies and defended them very well. […]

Relax. Sarah will be fine. Pretty soon, we may find the left kicking itself for underestimating her.

Less than a week to go until that VP debate…


  1. 2 Responses to “Palin: The Katie Couric Interview”

  2. its not sinful but discourteous and unfortunate that KATIE COURICE
    “JOURNALIST” talking head
    interviewer of politicians is so pointedly anti Republican/anti war/anti mccain
    NOW anti PALIN; Ms. Couric dislikes President Bush and the republican part very much -

    Yes she has winced on screen when the Iraq war
    was mentioned in 2007 and prior;

    She is from the East - Delaware or Maryland and in the liberal media for many decades.

    I don’t criticize her body of work as a journalist but her bias in this case -
    what a set up
    who in her right mind including Governor PALIN could rationally get their news from MS NBC Huffington post, Cnn or the New York TIMES?

    As a mother and a woman she could have been more courteous and objective with GOVERNOR PALIN.

    If she considers her soul/and heart MORE in the next interview with a politician
    when she asks them about abortion and gay rights in a private moment
    Katie might just consider that God is
    watching What would you decide KATIE if one of your girls got pregnant as a teen?

    GOD alone ain’t impressed with your scowls your condemnation or your salary.

    COULD HE JUST BE smiling down on Sarah Palin for believing in life

    as sacred,

    the bible as HIS WORD - Could he just be giving S Palin the strength to face all the condemners and whiners and Pharisees among her?

    written by a college educated woman born in Boston MA living in the southwest, older than Katie and a fool too with FAITH

    By L Mukh on Oct 2, 2008

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