I know what the Monroe Doctrine is. I could even tell you that Kennedy pledged to help any country struggling to be free--a take off on the Truman Doctrine: to "support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."
But I confess I was not familiar with the term Bush Doctrine. At least not in the way Charlie Gibson presented it in his 1st interview with Governor Sarah Palin on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008.
Seems I am not alone in wondering, what in the world is that? Even Barbara Walters on The View said something akin to she did not know that all politicians would know what that term meant. No wonder.
According to Wikipedia on the Bush Doctrine, there are many aspects to it. "Foreign policy experts argue over the meaning of the term "Bush Doctrine," and some scholars have suggested that there is no one unified theory underlying Bush's foreign policy."
Charles Krauthammer exposed Charles Gibson's Gaffe in this Washington Post piece.
"He [Gibson] asked Governor Palin, 'Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?'
She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, 'In what respect, Charlie?'
There are many aspects to the Bush Doctrine. It isn't just one concept as Charlie tried to infer, and he seemed unwilling to define it. (I think Sarah was wise in asking him to define his term. It is always good to know what you are agreeing with.)
Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "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?"]
So when Charles Gibson defined it, he did so incorrectly. Sarah then restated that portion of the Bush Doctrine, so there would be little doubt as to her convictions. (The Bush Doctrine being the collection of foreign policy themes over the years.)
Palin: "Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend."
Sarah made sure her position was well defined, that preemptive strikes were not to be based on a feeling or hunch as Gibson suggested but on legitimate intelligence.
I found Charlie Gibson's attitude annoying throughout the interview. Guess I wasn't alone. Krauthammer sums up:
Presidential doctrines are inherently malleable and difficult to define. The only fixed "doctrines" in American history are the Monroe and the Truman doctrines which come out of single presidential statements during administrations where there were few other contradictory or conflicting foreign policy crosscurrents.
Such is not the case with the Bush doctrine.
Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what it is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.
The question on Pakistan was irritating to me as well as the one on Israel's right to protect itself against Iran. (Wasn't that the one Obama said he would not answer because he did not deal in hypothetical questions?)
I kept thinking to myself, I sure wish these same questions would be presented to all the Presidential and VP candidates...but then that would only be in a perfect world.
Please, comment content should relate to the subject of the post. Although I try to respond to many, do not interpret my lack of a response as agreement.