Monday, September 15, 2008

Gibson vs Palin

As my title makes clear, I’m not going to pretend Gibson wasn’t out to get Sarah Palin in her recent ABC interview. The questions he asked were aggressive and probing. He had clearly done his research on her. And he even intentionally tried to trick her once or twice. That being said, I think he largely succeeded.

In my analysis of the interview, I have decided to use the full transcript provided by ABC here in order to avoid accusations of unfair editing. If anyone finds an incompleteness in the transcript, please specifically address the passage and how it negatively portrays Palin.

So here it goes:

GIBSON: But this is not just reforming a government. This is also running a government on the huge international stage in a very dangerous world. When I asked John McCain about your national security credentials, he cited the fact that you have commanded the Alaskan National Guard and that Alaska is close to Russia. Are those sufficient credentials?

PALIN: But it is about reform of government and it's about putting government back on the side of the people, and that has much to do with foreign policy and national security issues Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that's with the energy independence that I've been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.

GIBSON: I know. I'm just saying that national security is a whole lot more than energy.

PALIN: It is, but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security. It's that important. It's that significant.

Gibson asked her for national security credentials beyond her reform record, command of the Alaska National Guard, and proximity to Russia. She answered by arguing her reform record and her role in increasing oil production are national security credentials.

First of all, she only commands the Alaskan National Guard (make link: when deployed within Alaska and even then, with a few exceptions, it follows protocol independent of the governor. When it is deployed outside of Alaska, it falls under federal command. Furthermore, neither her reform record nor her role in developing Alaskan energy resources involves relationships between states. And finally, we cannot achieve energy security by pumping more oil because the U.S. Department of the Interior ( estimates proven reserves of 21 billion barrels and unproven reserves of 134 billion barrels. The U.S. currently consumes 20.73 million barrels/day, or 7.5 billion barrels/year ( We only have a 3 -18 year supply of domestic oil.

Gibson: 1 Palin: 0

GIBSON: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?

PALIN: There in the state of Alaska, our international trade activities bring in many leaders of other countries.

GIBSON: And all governors deal with trade delegations.

PALIN: Right.

GIBSON: Who act at the behest of their governments.

PALIN: Right, right.

GIBSON: I'm talking about somebody who's a head of state, who can negotiate for that country. Ever met one?

PALIN: I have not and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you.

She initially dodges the question and then answers no but claims the same was true of many other vice presidents. However, this is dead wrong as every VP in the last 32 years has met a head of state as this Huffington Post article makes clear ( It also has an amusing video in which Palin states she does not even know what the VP does.

Gibson: 2 Palin: 0

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.

At first, she questions the accuracy of Gibson’s quote, as has much of internet which notes ABC edited out this objection. Her full remark is as follows:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God, that’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

So Gibson used a partial quote. Her actual statement tells us to pray that we are fulfilling God’s plan. I’ll give this one to her, but I still think religious inspiration for war is a very dangerous concept even if she doesn’t presume to know God’s will.

Gibson: 2 Palin: 1

PALIN: …And, Charlie, you're in Alaska. We have that very narrow maritime border between the United States, and the 49th state, Alaska, and Russia. They are our next door neighbors.We need to have a good relationship with them. They're very, very important to us and they are our next door neighbor.

GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in Georgia?

PALIN: Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.

Gibson asks her what insight she gets from proximity to Russia and she avoids the question by stating you can see Russia from an island I’m sure she has never been to. She then answers the question by saying she understands the need to be on good terms with Russia. I understand the need to be on good terms with Russia from all the way over here on the east coast. Does that make me qualified?

Gibson: 3 Palin: 1

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don't think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

GIBSON: So if we wouldn't second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would cooperative or agree with that.

PALIN: I don't think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.

PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.

Since when did we subjugate our judgment to that of Israel? The security of Israel is in our national interest and we should do everything we can to maintain their security. However, there is an important distinction between defending Israel and allowing Israel to control the decision making process. When Gibson repeated the question twice, clearly surprised she would surrender our military judgment to that of Israel’s, she had the opportunity to clarify this. In failing to grasp this distinction, Palin reveals her simplistic understanding of our national security interests. No doubt her eagerness to attract Jewish voters and other supporters of Israel got the best of her.

Gibson: 4 Palin: 1

GIBSON: Do we have the right to be making cross-border attacks into Pakistan from Afghanistan, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?

PALIN: Now, as for our right to invade, we're going to work with these countries, building new relationships, working with existing allies, but forging new, also, in order to, Charlie, get to a point in this world where war is not going to be a first option. In fact, war has got to be, a military strike, a last option.

She avoids the question. He repeats the question twice and she does not answer. I am convinced the reason she avoided so many questions during the interview is that she does not actually know the correct answer. Yes, there are simply situations were it is better not to answer. But she could have given a reasonable answer here along the lines of ‘We have the right to make cross-border attacks only if our national security is imminently threatened.’ Now I’m not quite sure when, if ever, we can cross the Pakistani border.

Gibson: 5 Palin: 1

GIBSON: … Do you still believe that global warming is not man-made?

PALIN: I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change…Regardless, though, of the reason for climate change, whether it's entirely, wholly caused by man's activities or is part of the cyclical nature of our planet -- the warming and the cooling trends -- regardless of that, John McCain and I agree that we gotta do something about it and we have to make sure that we're doing all we can to cut down on pollution.

GIBSON: But it's a critical point as to whether or not this is man-made. He says it is. You have said in the past it's not.

PALIN: The debate on that even, really has evolved into, OK, here's where we are now: scientists do show us that there are changes in climate. Things are getting warmer. Now what do we do about it. And John McCain and I are gonna be working on what we do about it.

GIBSON: Yes, but isn't it critical as to whether or not it's man-made, because what you do about it depends on whether it’s man-made.

PALIN: That is why I'm attributing some of man's activities to potentially causing some of the changes in the climate right now.

GIBSON: But I, color me a cynic, but I hear a little bit of change in your policy there. When you say, yes, now you're beginning to say it is man-made…

PALIN: I think you are a cynic because show me where I have ever said that there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any affect, or no affect, on climate change.

First, she avoids the question by saying it doesn’t matter whether or not man is causing it because she is going to fight it anyways. I cannot trust someone to do something about climate change if they claim they have a solution without acknowledging the cause. Even if I didn’t believe climate change is man-made, I would not trust her because her answer is obviously illogical and essentially a lie.

When pressed on the point, she admits global warming may be partially caused by humans. Gibson asks if this a change from her previous stance and she says no.

Her previous statements include (

“A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location.... I'm not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made.”

“I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity.”

First of all, she has created a false dichotomy by saying the only other position besides believing global warming may be caused by humans is to believe that “there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any affect, or no affect, on climate change.” You may not believe global warming is caused by humans, but that doesn’t mean you believe that there is absolute proof against any human affect. As you can see, the first quote does not fall into either end of the dichotomy and is a change from the position she gave Gibson, although her final claim to Gibson is still true.

Second of all, her second comment about Al Gore all but implies the changes in our climate are not caused by humans, which is a change of position.

Either way, she clearly HAS changed positions.

Gibson: 6 Palin: 1

GIBSON: You mentioned in the three principles that you'll change spending. You also talked about taxes. Why do you both keep saying that Obama is going to raise people's taxes? It's been pretty clear what he intends. He's talked about middle-class tax cuts, extending Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country. Why do you keep saying he's going to raise people's taxes?

PALIN: Well, I would argue with the whole premise of that, that his mission is to not increase taxes. He's had 94 opportunities to either vote for a tax cut or not support tax increases. And 94 times, he's been on the other side of what I believe the majority of Americans want.

She doesn’t answer the convention. Obama gave a read my lips promise in the debates not to raise taxes on those making less than 250,000. That makes any threat that Obama will raise your taxes a lie.

Furthermore, the figure Palin cites about Obama raising taxes is intentionally misleading ( 11 of the votes were to increase taxes on those making more than 1 million. 17 of the votes were for only 7 separate measures (re-votes). 53 of them were for budget measures, not tax bills, which did not have any direct effect on taxes. 4 of them were advice to senate committees. 7 of them were actually broad tax cuts which increased taxes on a small wealthy group. I cannot find one of the 94 which would have raised taxes on anyone except those making more than 250,000. So it completely fails to prove Obama will or has taxed people making less than 250,000.

Gibson: 7 Palin: 1

GIBSON: But it's now pretty clearly documented. You supported that bridge before you opposed it. You were wearing a T-shirt in the 2006 campaign, showed your support for the bridge to nowhere.

PALIN: I was wearing a T-shirt with the Zip code of the community that was asking for that bridge. Not all the people in that community even were asking for a $400 million or $300 million bridge.

GIBSON: But you turned against it after Congress had basically pulled the plug on it; after it became apparent that the state was going to have to pay for it, not the Congress; and after it became a national embarrassment to the state of Alaska. So do you want to revise and extend your remarks?

PALIN: It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the ear form -- earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that's what John McCain has fought. And that's what I joined him in fighting. It's been an embarrassment, not just Alaska's projects. But McCain gives example after example after example. I mean, every state has their embarrassment. And, as I've said over and over, if Alaska wants that bridge, $300 million, $400 million dollars, over to that island with an airport, we'll find a way to build it ourselves. The rest of the country doesn't have to build that for us.

GIBSON: But you were for it before you were against it. You were solidly for it for quite some period of time... until Congress pulled the plug.

PALIN: I was for infrastructure being built in the state. And it's not inappropriate for a mayor or for a governor to request and to work with their Congress and their congressmen, their congresswomen, to plug into the federal budget along with every other state a share of the federal budget for infrastructure.

GIBSON: But you didn't say no to Congress, well build it ourselves until after they pulled the plug. Correct?

PALIN: No, because Congress still allowed those dollars to come into Alaska. They did.

GIBSON: Well, but ...

PALIN: Transportation fund dollars still came into Alaska. It was our choice, Charlie, whether we were going to spend it on a bridge or not. And I said, thanks, but no thanks. We're not going to spend it on the bridge.

First she claims she opposed it, inspiring Gibson’s first question. Then she tries to pretend the shirt with the zip code was not a shirt in support of the bridge. However, the bridge also had the word ‘nowhere’ in large capital letters across the front. It is clearly a shirt in support of the bridge, and further demonstrates her awareness that many consider an earmarked bridge to nowhere. And despite this she supported it.

Further proof of her support for the Bridge to Nowhere can be found here ( She argues in support of the bridge that people have misunderstood its purpose and states that she ‘would not stand in the way of the progress toward that bridge.’ She answered yes to a questionnaire asking if she would continue to support state funding for the bridge. She clearly intentionally lied to Gibson and this nation.

Then she claims she would not accept money to build a bridge. But she chose to keep the money which was originally allocated for the bridge, showing she does not have any qualms about accepting money from federal earmarks.

Most disturbing of all, she says governors should work with their congressmen to try and ‘plug into the federal budget.’ This is the definition of an earmark (earmarks [] refer to congressional provisions that direct approved funds to be spent on specific projects). She is, in effect, advocating for the earmark process. The ‘transportation funds’ which ‘came into Alaska’ were outside of the normally allotted federal transportation funds distributed on an even basis to all states.

Palin lied. Gibson: 8 Palin: 1

GIBSON: The state of Alaska, under OMB figures in 2008, got $155 million in earmarks for a population of 670,000. That's $231 per person in Alaska. The state of Illinois, Obama's state, got $22 per person. You got 10 times per person as much. How does that square with your reforms?

Score one for Gibson. Palin brought home the dough as governor.

Gibson: 9 Palin: 1

GIBSON: There's a lot on the Internet about a conversation you did or did not have with a librarian about banning books. Want to clear up what's on the Internet?

PALIN: I never banned a book, never desired to ban a book. When I became mayor in our town, it was the issue of: what if a parent came into our local public library and asked for a book to be taken off the shelf, wha's the policy? ...It kind of cracked me up seeing the list of books that I supposedly banned…one of them was 'Harry Potter!' It wasn't even written or published then.

Ok so she didn’t ban that list of books. What she did do is ask the librarian if she could ban books, and when the librarian refused, she was fired (

Palin fails to clear the controversy. Gibson: 10 Palin: 1

GIBSON: What you said to me at the beginning I don't think anybody in the Bush administration would disagree with. What do you change in the Bush economic plans?

PALIN: We have got to make sure that we reform the oversight, also, of the agencies, including the quasi-government agencies, like Freddie and Fannie, those things that have created an atmosphere here in America where people are fearful of losing their homes.

People are looking at job loss. People are looking at unaffordable health care for their families. We have got to reform the oversight of these agencies that have such control over Americans' pocketbooks.

GIBSON: So let me summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans. One, two, three.

PALIN: Reduce taxes, control spending, reform the oversight and the overseeing agencies and committees to make sure that America's dollars and investments are protected.

Remind you of anybody? Bush said the exact same thing. Obama’s tax cuts are larger for most Americans. Tax cuts for the wealthy, as McCain has proposed, is not an economic plan. Bush tried it and now we have 6.1% unemployment, and the collapse of large financial institutions.

Gibson: 11 Palin: 1

I have tried to be as fair as possible in this evaluation. Palin successfully answered many questions during this interview. But this is expected of a Vice Presidential candidate and I have not given her credit here. The above 12 points highlight her ability to blatently lie to the American people, her naivity, and the falsity of her self-created public image.