September 16, 2008


He's so good.

Even when I disagree with him, he's excellent. I know that because I start to bristle in just the right way—that is to say, I realize he's just made a nice case for the other side on the handful of issues we disagree on—mostly related to sexuality and gender roles, natch. I think I once boycotted him for three months due to some remark he made that appeared to paint women with just too broad a brush [so to speak]. I heard later that he was devastated—Devastated!—that I was absent from his listening audience.

Dennis on that awful Charlie Gibson ambush of Governor Palin:

I want to assume that people of good will on both sides can still be honest about what transpires politically. And in this instance what transpired was that Gibson intended to humiliate Palin.

It wasn't even subtle. Virtually everything Gibson did and virtually every question he posed was designed to trap, or trick, or demean Gov. Palin. There are views of his face that so reek of contempt that anyone shown photos of his look would immediately identify it as contemptuous.

But one series of questions, in particular, blew any cover of impartiality and revealed Gibson's aim to humiliate Palin.

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 worldview?

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

When he asked Palin whether she agreed with the Bush Doctrine without defining it, he gave the game away. He lost any pretense of fairness. Asking the same unanswerable question three times had one purpose -- to humiliate the woman. That was not merely partisan. It was mean.

I couldn't answer it -- and I have been steeped in international affairs since I was a Fellow at the Columbia University School of International Affairs in the 1970s. I have since been to 82 countries, and have lectured in Russian in Russia and in Hebrew in Israel. Most Americans would consider a candidate for national office who had such a resume qualified as regards international relations. Yet I had no clue how to answer Gibson's question.

I had no clue because there is no right answer. There are at least four doctrines that are called "Bush Doctrine," which means that there is no "Bush Doctrine." It is a term bereft of meaning, as became abundantly clear when Gibson finally explained what he was referring to:

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 -- the right to preemptive attack of a country that was planning an attack on America?

That's the Bush Doctrine? "The right to preemptive attack of a country that was planning an attack on America?"

Isn't that just common sense? What country in history has thought it did not have the right to attack those planning to attack it? I learned the "Bush Doctrine" when I was a student at yeshiva in the fourth grade, when I was taught a famous Talmudic dictum from about 1,800 years ago: "If someone is coming to kill you, rise early and kill him."

And preemptive attack is exactly what happened in June 1967, when Israel attacked Egypt and Syria because those countries were planning to attack Israel. Would any American president before George W. Bush have acted differently than Israel did? Of course not. Did they all believe in the Bush Doctrine?

That is how Gibson added foolishness to his meanness.

All the interview did was reconfirm that Republicans running for office run against both their Democratic opponent and the mainstream news media.

Yup. But this time, they really are overplaying their hand.

And Prager isn't even taking the selective video-editing and the camera-angle trick into account.

h/t for the camera-setup link: Insty.

Posted by Attila Girl at September 16, 2008 10:39 PM | TrackBack

I am not in politics, nor am I a journalist, nor am I even an especially rabid news junkie.

But I could have defined the Bush Doctrine off the top of my head. I could have said it was propounded in 2002, based largely on the PNAC principles laid out in 1999 or so, that it was laid out before Iraq, and that it set up the invasion of Iraq. The Bush Doctrine, I would have said, is a notion of pre-emptive strikes against those who are perceived to be enemies of US security... or US business interests abroad.

If Sarah Palin couldn't say that much off the top of her head, that really does strike me as odd.

Couldn't you have said as much (perhaps with a different spin, but no fewer details) off the top of your head? Honestly.

Posted by: rin at September 17, 2008 02:07 PM

oh, and ps, Iraq wasn't planning to attack us, nor had it attacked us in the previous decade. A little sabre-rattling aside, it was a paralyzed country full of rusty rifles and hungry children, not a threat to the US in any meaningful way. Nor was it in cahoots with AlQaeda, Bin Laden, or 9/11.

Just for the record.

Posted by: Rin at September 17, 2008 02:09 PM

Okay--so AQ just moved in after we invaded?

And those meetings between Hussein and AQ were just dalliances? Innocent cups of tea?

And we should have known that Hussein was only acting guilty re: weapons inspectors in order to be macho?--despite putting his life and his regime at risk in so doing? We should have rolled the dice on him developing nuclear weapons?--played the odds rather than the stakes?

And we shouldn't care that he harbored those involved in pre-9/11 assaults on the U.S. by AQ?

And there is nothing more unstable about dictatorships vs. democracies in volatile regions of the world?--just another way to go about business?

And all would be well if we only hadn't invaded, and foisted democracy on those now-unhappy Iraqis?

And . . . screw the Kurds?

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 17, 2008 02:36 PM

Rin, the fact that you and Charlie Gibson have the same stereotypes in your heads is cold comfort when the scholars, such as Prager and Charles Krauthammer--who actually coined the term "Bush Doctrine"--agree that there are several meanings for that phrase.

We don't want a VP whose approach to foreign policy is based on cartoons; we want one who is well-versed in the issues, and understands the complexities involved.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 17, 2008 02:41 PM

Keepin' my opinions concerning progressive thinking to myself this time, since you didn't like it the last time I aired them, Attila.

But I have to say, I always thought the 'Bush Doctrine' was a bit more complex than just 'gittem afore they's be a-gettin' us, ar!' After all, 'doctrine' is always much more complex, no?

Posted by: Gregory at September 17, 2008 05:01 PM

Thank you, Gregory. Rin and I spar here online, but she's been holding my hand a lot lately; she's a true friend.

I know it's confusing. My high school sweetheart showed up here several years ago with some lefty-liberal claptrap, and Desert Cat assumed he was a troll. Harsh words were exchanged, and I had to explain to DC that my real-life friends are to be engaged . . . but gently. After all, I'm still hoping they'll all convert. (Actually, I think a few of 'em have: they just aren't admitting it out loud.)

So it's the opposite etiquette of Ace's site, where I know even the regulars abuse each OTHER on a fairly regular basis, just for recreation.

On the other hand, Ace is still top-secret and anonymous, like Rusty--whereas most of my readers know my real name, and I make myself pretty vulnerable here.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 17, 2008 06:10 PM

Off the top of your head, Rin? While mentioning the PNAC? Minus 25 points for not using the term 'hegemony.' Another 10 points, each, for omitting the terms 'imperialism' and 'empire.' Be warned that such deviance is not taken lightly by Party Officials.

How does the Left achieve synchronicity of thought? Is it a sub-carrier on "The View" or Green Day Cd's? Can a group really share one brain?

Answer one question Rin. How do students fare who don't share your world view? Have you ever found yourself grading lower because of it? Be honest.

Posted by: Darrell at September 17, 2008 07:44 PM

D--she teaches freshmen. I think she's relieved when they show basic linguistic competence (though, judge-like, I'll allow the question). Rin?

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 17, 2008 09:37 PM

AoSHQ and the Moronosphere aren't the only blogs I read, as you can see from my blogroll. They're only the first ones I visit. :)

I take your point on maintaining real-life relationships. I blog under my real name. Not that many people read it, but I get the idea.

Ah. Education. That explains... well, pretty much everything, really.

Darrell: How do Lefties all say the same thing? Isn't it obvious? Leftism can be boiled down to several simple, catchy phrases. You don't even have to really learn them. It's always the same old tired easy, sleazy stuff. You could imitate the exact tones of leftism no problem. The only difficulty is in swallowing your distaste, is all.

Although, I concede, not trollish behaviour. That's far, far harder. But then, I haven't seen too many of 'em on this blog.

Here's the thing, Rin. I, and I daresay quite a number of conservative-leaning folk, happen to believe that the drive to conservatism is innate in everyone, but it is hard to achieve. This is because while you have to work at conservatism, being a socialist requires next to no thought.

Which, btw, is why the left has worked so hard to insinuate itself into the Western education system and poison it from within. Don't say the lefty elites are stupid, even if they sometimes seem so. They understood that much.

Heck, I blogged about this.

btw, painting women with a broad brush? That's easy! I could do that with both eyes wide open! I'd volunteer anyday! No need to pay me anything. Won't even have to be real paint either - chocolate will do just fine.

Oh, you meant his remarks! But that's easy too... that I could do with my eyes shut. All women blame bitchiness on PMS - awfully convenient, innit? We should never have given women the vote - now they all uppity and goin' Democrat. Women are always too durned emotional, and their standards of cleanliness are too high. And what's with the plastic sexuality? Women touchin' and feelin' theyselfs in public places aint no two men gonna do and they're supposedly straight? And you gotta wonder what they up to in them washrooms, always goin' off in groups, takin' Lawd knows how long to piss.

Ooh, I could go on and on and on. Easiest thing to do ever. It does not take a man of Prager's stature to do this. :P

(Hmph, even *women* find this sort of thing easy - witness the old biddies turning on Gov Palin like sharks. Go Sarahcudda!)

Well, that and stuffing my face. Speaking of which, it's 5.30pm and time for me to go home and eat dinner. And fork out some money to Chris. I promised to do it anyhows.

Posted by: Gregory at September 18, 2008 01:38 AM

People who want to troll over here usually drop by and call me something like "slut," or "ugly." Which makes me yawn.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 18, 2008 09:46 AM

to answer Darrell's question from above, while I agree, sadly, that teachers do mark down sometimes when students have different worldviews, I try very very very hard not to do that. If a paper is well written, a position well articulated, I give it a good grade even if I hate its position. And vice versa. Really.

I don't think I could give a Nazi an A, but I've given quite decent grades to students arguing against choice (which I'm reluctantly for) and access to birth control (which I'm enthusiastically for).

what I really mark down for is abject dumbness, like students who explain that Gandhi got his ideas of passive resistance from MLK. You have no idea how ignorant our students are!!! And it's gotten worse over the past 8 years.

As for AlQaeda, sure there was a non-zero presence in Iraq, just as there was in Germany and England and Indonesia and Pakistan and the US, before 9/11. Bin Laden was vocal in his contempt for Hussein, a secular Muslim, and I don't believe there was meaningful collusion between the two.

Attacking someone who's literally about to attack you (a guy coming toward you with a visible weapon) is legitimate. Attacking someone who wishes you ill, and wishes he had a weapon, is different. And as the last 5 years have shown, Iraq didn't have much in the way of WMDs or even conventional weapons. They resort to handmade roadside bombs because their arsenal is old and crappy.

And the Democracy for Iraqis argument, while appealing, raises disturbing questions. Are we going to bring democracy by force to every repressed people on earth? China? Saudi Arabia? Myanmar? How, when, and why? It's a pretty vision, but not practical... and a little presumptuous.

Posted by: rin at September 18, 2008 09:58 AM

ps, I'll hold your hand any time, babe!

you are a goddess and a brilliant woman, and your sass is the 8th wonder of the world!

you're a true friend too, and I hope we can have brunch again soon.

xo Rin

Posted by: rin at September 18, 2008 10:14 AM

or, in English Major parlance, (s)ass.


Posted by: rin at September 18, 2008 10:17 AM

But Rin, whan a person acts all threatening and makes rattling-sabre noises and whatnot, surely I'm entitled to take him at his word? When I ask others around him and they think he's armed and dangerous, and after I've spoken to him and asked him to just not do allathat stuff he's been doin', aggravatin' the situation, and he just won't quit, and I'm convinced he'll really do somethin' stupid...

Well, shouldn't I stop him?

OT - see? Get a man to pat another man's ass and see how far that gets you. As long as it's not Excitable Andi, of course.

Posted by: Gregory at September 18, 2008 05:27 PM

Venomous Kate used to blog about her "damned-near perfect ass." I've been told that mine is 100% . . .

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 18, 2008 05:47 PM

%200, at least. ;-)

As for Hussein, do we shoot the crazy homeless guy who says he's going to tear out our kidneys?

We have an obligation to determine the truth, even when it's obscured by deceit and insanity and pride.

Especially when lives are on the line.

Posted by: Rin at September 18, 2008 10:30 PM

Summary of the experts cited by The Washington Post (see previous AG citation):

Peter D. Feaver, of Bush's national security strategy team: I counted at least seven Bush Doctrines

Richard Holbrooke, of the Clinton and Carter administrations: "The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction -- and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."

Philip Zelikow, Bush advisor who wrote the above (what Holbrooke calls the "Bush Doctrine"): "I actually never thought there was a Bush doctrine."

Zbigniew Brzenzinski, Carter's National Security Advisor: "There are many elements to the Bush doctrine."

Andrew C. McCarthy, prosecutor on 1993 WTC bombing and foreign policy maven: People who "follow this stuff very closely, disagree intensely among ourselves about what the Bush Doctrine is."

So the bottom line is that any answer is speculative and problematic.

Unlike Hillary's "I don't remember" and "I don't recall" during all those sworn testimonies--Travel Office, Craig Livingstone
(director of the White House's Office of Personnel Security), Whitewater, Rose billing records, etc.

Posted by: Darrell at September 18, 2008 11:14 PM

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