Boy, ol’ headmaster Charlie Gibson and cute, cunningly earnest Katie Couric really got poor helpless Sarah Palin, didn’t they?
I can just imagine the “brain trusts” of ABC and CBS and the Obama handlers coming up with innocent-seeming questions, setting traps that would surely trip up the newcomer to big media style politics.
“Hey Charlie, warm her up with a little big time news anchor charm – and then ask her to explain the ‘Bush Doctrine’! I’ll bet she can’t. Who can? Can you, Charlie? No? Well, that’s my point. She could probably give three or four answers, and they’d all be right – depending on which version Bush came up with – but she probably won’t even know what you’re talking about, and she’ll look stupid. Make sure you have a one-sentence answer ready yourself, though. She might just toss it back at ya.”
“Now Katie, you’ve got a real advantage. You’re a woman, and she might just expect you’ll be somewhat sympathetic to a woman taking on so much so soon – so you can really sock it to her! Why don’t you give her a lot of that cutesy ‘I’m on your side’ smile and then broadside her with a chatty little question about Supreme Court decisions? Set her up first, though, by putting her on the spot about abortion; and then hit her with a demand that she name Court decisions she disagrees with. I’ll bet that, under quick pressure, she may fumph and fumble and not be able to think of a single one by name.
“And Katie, be ready. If she freezes and can’t think of decisions right away, keep burrowing in on it! Ask her at least two or three times, always saying something like ‘I don’t mean to belabor the point’, which of course you do, but don’t let her off the hook. Any time she falters – like maybe not rattling off the names of magazines she reads – keep hammering away at it, like it’s really significant, but always talking softly and confidentially like you’re really interested in her answer. Be real friendly, while you cut her to pieces.”
Of course, hindsight is usually 20-20. I wish Sarah had asked Katie, just as sweetly, “Katie, how many Supreme Court justices can you name, or vice presidents for that matter? And how did you feel when CBS paid you all those millions to act like a news anchor/journalist instead of a morning entertainment host – and the ratings went in the toilet?” A little tit for tat would have seemed just. But in these situations, the interviewer has the upper hand, and can booby trap an interviewee who’s trying to be open and cooperative.
So the media now is having a field day trying to terrify the voting public about what might happen if John McCain were to die two days after he’s sworn in – and Sarah Palin is suddenly president of the United States. They’re maliciously making pretty Sarah and her “down home,” “just folks” vernacular sound simple and ignorant. They want her to be dismissed as a lightweight bobblehead doll, and to indict McCain’s judgment for selecting her as his running mate.
But wait! A few questions for all the liberal, sophisticated victims of the Obama virus spreading across the country – something politically akin to “mad cow disease.”
Has there ever been an election when so much ridicule has been leveled against the No.2 on a ticket? And especially with the constant threat that the No.2 will probably be No.1, sooner than later? Other than by assassination when nothing like today’s Secret Service protected them, how many presidents have died in office and been succeeded by their vice president in our entire 240-year history? Can you spell “4”?
Now, smart guys, how many vice presidents can you name? Four or five, maybe? Can’t quite remember Elbridge Gerry or Daniel Tompkins or George Dallas or Hannibal Hamlin (under Abe Lincoln) or Schuyler Colfax or Thomas Hendricks or Levi Morton, Garret Hobart, Charles Fairbanks or James Sherman? Not even John Nance Garner, vice President to Franklin Roosevelt, who famously compared the office to “a warm bucket of pi–“?
And speaking of FDR, one of our most popular and revered presidents, I clearly remember the day when the nation learned he’d died. I was a little boy in Nashville, Tenn., and I looked at my parents as they shook their heads in sorrow and deep concern, saying things like “We’re sunk. That haberdasher congressman from Kansas City, Harry Truman, is president now! He doesn’t know anything, hasn’t done anything – and now what are we going to do?”
Well, that little-known, “done nothing, know nothing” haberdasher took the oath, rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He wasn’t a sophisticated northern politician; he’d never been inducted into the secret “Skull and Bones” society; never went to Harvard or Yale or Oxford; he liked to walk everywhere, and he talked in a crusty Midwestern way, sometimes letting a cuss word fly; he loved his wife, Bess, and never got involved in any extramarital affairs. He made the decision to drop the A-bomb and never lost a moment’s sleep second-guessing it. He fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur for insubordination and brought him home from Japan.
He listened to his old partner in the Kansas City clothing store, Eddy Jacobson, and totally against the advice of his Cabinet and political advisers, threw the full weight of the United States in favor of Israel’s statehood in 1948 – creating a new nation for an ancient people, in a single day.
His famous dictum “The Buck Stops Here” was carved on a wood plaque on his desk, and I saw it there when I visited with him in Independence, Mo., after he’d left office. Today, that little known haberdasher is rated by respected historians to have been one of our very best presidents.
See, leadership isn’t glib, polished talk. It’s real character, and clear judgment, and common sense – and honesty. Nobody is ever really ready for the challenges of the presidency. It’s a learn-as-you-go, never-the-same job.
Sarah Palin already has had more successful executive and administrative experience, as mayor and governor and in business, than either Democratic candidate. And she has the character to go with it. Let the Gibsons and Courics gloat over their cunning traps. I’m hoping the voters will have the last, and best, laugh.