Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why Palin Had Trouble With Couric's Questions

Who can forget Gov. Palin's rambling, off-target, mostly unintelligible answers to Katie Couric's questions? Earlier this month, I wrote about Gov. Palin's explanation of her performance in an interview with Sean Hannity (as reported on CNN):

I did feel there were a lot of things she was missing in terms of an opportunity to ask what a VP candidate stands for, what the values are that are represented in our ticket," Palin said. "I guess I have to apologize for being a bit annoyed, but that’s also an indication about being outside that Washington elite, outside that media elite also, and just wanting to talk to Americans without the filter and let them know what we stand for.
As I noted in my prior post:
Couric asked her about Supreme Court decisions that she disagreed with, her thoughts on the economic bailout, her foreign policy experience, Sen. McCain's legislative record on regulatory issues, her thoughts on abortion and birth control, and what periodicals she read to help form her worldview.
But Gov. Palin gave nonsensical answers ("bafflegab") because she was "annoyed". I'm not sure why, but I was actually quite surprised to see Gov. Palin repeat the charge that she was "annoyed" when speaking in Indiana earlier today. According to CNN:
"Last time I was here I got to tell a crowd that I had to give a national interview that didn’t go so well,” she said. “And it was because I was kind of annoyed with the questions that I was being asked because I thought they were kind of irrelevant to, you know, national security issues and getting our economy back on track, so I kind of showed some of that annoyance."
Note, though, now Gov. Palin says that Couric's questions were "irrelevant" and blames that for her having shown "annoyance". So, just to be sure that I understand, Gov. Palin claims that she thought Couric's questions about the Supreme Court, economic bailout, foreign policy experience, Sen. McCain's record on regulatory issues, abortion, birth control, and periodicals that helped form her worldview were "irrelevant" because those questions weren't about "national security issues and getting our economy back on track". Do I have that right? And, because Couric's questions were "irrelevant", Gov. Palin showed "annoyance" by giving rambling, unintelligible, nonsensical answers.

I don't know. If I was "annoyed" at a question, I'd still try to look like I understood the question and provide a well-reasoned and competent answer. And I'd tell the interviewer that I thought the questions were bad. But under no circumstances, would I try to make myself look like a fool (though I might try to turn the tables on the interviewer). Such an interview might look something like this:

This interview, conducted last Thursday in Orlando, focused on "irrelevant" issues. You can tell that Sen. Biden gets angry by WFTV anchor Barbara West's biased and offensive questions (did she really ask if Sen. Obama was a Marxist?), yet he never really loses his cool. He chides her for her questions, asks her if she's joking, and asks her who wrote the questions. Yet, through it all, Sen. Biden gave strong, reasoned answers that demonstrate an understanding of the issues and a willingness to address the questions posed, no matter how biased or and no matter that they were seemingly taken straight from Republican talking points. That West's questions were apparently biased, it turns out, isn't so surprising. After all, West's husband is Wade West, a Republican strategist and donor to Republican candidates. Maybe that's where she got those Republican talking point questions.

And for what it's worth, compare West's biased attack questions posed to Sen. Biden, with the softball ("why haven't you gone after him") questions that she posed to Sen. McCain in an interview on October 14. When interviewing Sen. Biden, she attacks Sen. Obama's plans and policies and asks if Sen. Obama is a Marxist, but when speaking to Sen. McCain, her questions also attack Sen. Obama and his policies. I suspect that West will be hosting her own show in Fox News any day now... In the meantime, you'd think that viewers in Orlando would be demanding a more even-handed approach from their news sources.

But the point of all this is that some candidates, even when confronted by difficult, aggressive, biased questions, still answer the questions while others offer unintelligible gobbledygook (or bafflegab) and then blame the questions for the candidates inability to give intelligent, well-reasoned, and meaningful answers. The contrast is, to me, striking, and says much about what each of those candidates would be like should they be elected to the offices they are seeking.


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