Saturday, September 13, 2008

Which "Bush Doctrine" Charlie?

Charlie Gibson's Gaffe

By Charles Krauthammer Saturday, September 13, 2008; The Washington Post, A17

"At times visibly nervous . . . Ms. Palin most visibly stumbled when she was asked by Mr. Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. Ms. Palin did not seem to know what he was talking about. Mr. Gibson, sounding like an impatient teacher, informed her that it meant the right of 'anticipatory self-defense.' "
-- New York Times, Sept. 12

Informed her? Rubbish.

The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different. (link)

What Exactly Is the 'Bush Doctrine'?

by Richard Starr on September 12, 2008, The Weekly Standard

It's being taken in some quarters as revelatory of inexperience that Sarah Palin sought clarification when ABC's Charlie Gibson asked her about the Bush Doctrine. To review, here is the passage from the transcript.

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 world view.
GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq
PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this
world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our
nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes
made. And with new leadership, and that's the beauty of American elections, of
course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things
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

Gibson should of course have said in the first place what he understood the Bush Doctrine to be--and specified that he was asking a question about preemption. Palin was well within bounds to have asked him to be more specific. Because, as it happens, the doctrine has no universally acknowledged single meaning. Gibson himself in the past has defined the Bush Doctrine to mean "a promise that all terrorist organizations with global reach will be found, stopped and defeated"--which is remarkably close to Palin's own answer.

Consider what a diversity of views on the meaning of the Bush Doctrine can be found simply within the archives of ABC News itself:

September 20, 2001 PETER JENNINGS: . . . Claire, the president said at one point, 'From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.' Should we be taking that as the Bush doctrine?
CLAIRE SHIPMAN reporting: I think so, Peter, (link)


There is no single definition of the "Bush Doctrine." In the Weekly Standard article the author goes on to quote a total of eight different definitions of the Bush Doctrine including two different definitions from Charlie Gibson himself. All of these are from ABC news sources and include, in addition to Peters and Gibson, definitions by George Will, George Stephnopoulos, Terry Moran, and Bob Woodward.

Palin did not show herself uninformed; Gibson showed himself to be a biased, condescending, arrogant, elitist snob with an agenda. He owes her an apology.

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  1. Great post! I had done a similar post on my blog, but I think yours does a better job of explaining the different meanings of "The Bush Doctrine".

  2. The point is, even if you think the Bush Doctrine is too broad to define, Palin had never even heard of this term. She believed it to simply be Bush's world view and continued down an embarrassing train of thought. Why is it sexist and condescending when a woman gets asked tough interview questions she can't answer clearly?

  3. It seems like most of the major new networks are liberal, particularly ABC and MSNBC. To insinuate that Palin doesn't know what the Bush doctrine is, is a redundant question. Everyone knows what it is, even people not into politics.

    You will never hear Gibson ask Obama such condescending questions. Even Bill O'Reilly gave Obama a respectful interview, yet people think of him a a right wing extremist. When I watch the news, I have to choose which type of news I want to watch.

    The conservative news is on CNN and Fox. All the others are liberal. For crying out loud, I just want the regular news!

  4. I saw an interview with Carl Rove, and he said that the Bush Doctrine could be broken down into four different catagories.

    Palin should have simply said she didn't know what he was talking about, and have him explain it to her. Of course, they would have edited that part of the clip, and found a way to make her look bad.

    By the way, it's okay not know everything about everything. That's why presidents have a cabinet, advisors, etc.

  5. Very well said! Kudos

  6. I can't believe that a Republican Governor and VP candidate doesn't know "preventive war doctrine": the fact is that nowadays there are three or four "Bush doctrines". I think other interpretations of Palin's words are fondamentally wrong.
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