Gibson v Palin, Round 2

September 12, 2008

I’m not sure why ABC has been releasing typed excerpts before each interview segment; it seems like they’re stealing their own thunder. In any event, I’ve been steering clear of them, since her form is far more important than the content, most of which we already know.

After watching this latest segment on the economy, earmarks, abortion, and stem cell research, I think it’s safe to declare the interview a disaster for the ticket. Gibson is being hard on her, but he doesn’t come across as a bully; rather, he seems like a disappointed school teacher, quizzing a student who refuses to admit she hasn’t done the homework.

Of course, she’s been trying furiously to get through that homework, but she just didn’t leave herself enough time to complete it. The days she’s spent shut away with McCain aides are definitely showing. She’s absorbed a lot of information and talking points, and she eagerly offers up names and statistics wherever she can. But while I still don’t think drawing a blank on the Bush Doctrine will hurt her as a specific incident, it did illustrate just how unrealistic it is to teach someone everything she needs to know about policy in a couple of weeks. She can state the position she’s supposed to take in broad strokes on any issue, because they knew what issues she would be asked about. But pressed for detail, she is immediately in trouble, avoiding questions and repeating herself, because they couldn’t predict what specifics would be asked about, and one couldn’t conceivably learn about them all.

She looks bad, but the real problem is what this portends for her debate with Joe Biden. She has a few more weeks to prepare, but an interactive debate simply isn’t a test you can cram for.

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