Palin’s understated brilliance

by Michael O. Allen on October 1, 2008

I know all of us are holding our breath for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to wow America all over again during her vice-presidential debate with Delaware’s Sen. Joe Biden Thursday night.

One newspaper has called Mrs. Palin’s debating skills “formidable.” The New York Times says she’s a confident debater. In fact, the Obama campaign, calling her a “terrific debater,” is thinking of suspending the vice-presidential portion of the fall campaign.

I thought, maybe, we should imbibe a little her recent series of triumphant interviews with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric:

Couric: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It’s funny that a comment like that was kinda made to . . . cari . . . I don’t know, you know . . . reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

Ms. Couric then brought up the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, suggesting the money could be better spent by regular Americans. Mrs. Palin burst forth in incandescent rhetoric. Her answer was nothing short of historic in its scope and grasp of policy details, mastery of nuance:

COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it’s got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

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