Saturday, September 13, 2008

Live Blogging Sarah Palin's 20/20 Interview

Okay, not quite live. DVR'd. Who wants to stay up past 10:00 p.m.?

Going in, I can't help thinking that this interview is pretty foolish. Why would any candidate consent to a taped (and thus editable) interview with any but friendly media? Always do hostile interview live; it prevents selective editing that makes the interviewer look smart and the respondent foolish. It also limits the ability of the show to do what 20/20 just did: put together a highly tendentious account of all of the policy disputes and "scandals" in which Mrs. Palin is involved, and run it right before the interview.

To give a flavor of this kind of thing, Gibson says that Palin got rid of the governor's jet, but then spent $43K on commercial flights. No cost comparison with the jet is offered; the $43K is left to stand by itself.

Another example: Gibson mentions the firing of her brother-in-law as a state trooper, with no mention of why (policy brutality, as I recall).

Example three: 20/20 replays identical segments of her stump speech given in separate venues. Ha, ha, see, it's the same words! (Well, yes, it's a stump speech.)

On the other hand, the McCain campaign might have reasoned that only Democrats watch 20/20 anymore, so what's there to lose?

Gibson starts off asking Palin about what she would change. Answer: Control spending, cut taxes, improve agency oversight.

Gibson asks where the spending control comes from. Palin replies that it comes from increased efficiency. Smart politically, I guess, but pretty dumb policy. On the one hand, any specific spending cuts would prove hugely unpopular with some noisy constituency or other. On the other hand, government is what it is, and inefficiency is built in to the system. A smarter answer would have been across the board caps on discretionary spending.

Palin handles the "Bridge to Nowhere" questions well. It turns out that "thanks but no thanks" meant that she chose to spend the general infrastructure money appropriated by Congress on other projects, not that Congress offered the money for the bridge and Alaska wouldn't take it.

Hot button issues: Abortion, stem cells, gun control, and "book banning".

Abortion: Charlie Gibson wants to focus on the rape and incest exceptions, which Palin "personally" opposes. Just once, I'd like to hear a candidate say, okay, I'll give you the rape and incest exceptions, and a few others before, if you'll give me the other 99% of abortions. No? Then let's debate what we actually disagree on!

Gibson's losing the whole "book banning" issue, and rapidly shifts to troopergate.

Troopergate: Palin handles this deftly, pointing out that this guy had actually threatened members of her family.

That's it!?! Why did I bother? The video editing here is bad: Palin is obviously cut off in mid sentence on multiple occasions. I'd like to see the original footage; until then, I'd have to call the contest a draw. Palin comported herself well, but never fought on favorable terrain.

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