WASHINGTON-- Sarah Palin showed herself as steely and supremely confident--even when she stumbled over a question about the Bush Doctrine --and brushed off whether it mattered that she had never met a foreign head of state in her much anticipated first network interview as John McCain's running mate.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson--who had something to prove as an interviewer after a controversial turn as a debate moderator--at times seemed exasperated at Palin's rehearsed patter in the segments of the interview shown on the evening newscast.
Gibson, in the first of two days with Palin in Alaska pressed and probed in an interview where he was under as much pressure as his subject. In their own way, they both did well. Palin kept calling him "Charlie."
Palin, 44, the Alaska governor, kept herself out of major trouble, and that was her most important goal, first do no harm. She sounded reasonable--that is she is not calling for some kind of holy wars in explaining the statement she made in her church about war and God's plan. "I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good."
Just as Barack Obama, 47, is arguing that his judgment trumps any inexperience, so is Palin clear that her sense of "mission" makes up for any resume gaps. That's why she said "I'm ready" when McCain offered her the spot on his ticket.
"I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink," Palin said. "So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate."
Gibson tested her when he asked about the "Bush Doctrine" (regarding pre-emptive strikes to protect U.S. interests) waiting to see if she knew about the doctrine that paved the war for the Iraq war. Gibson asked her if she agreed with the Bush Doctrine.
She tried to wing it---using the technique of asking "in what respect?" to get some clues about its essential elements--but Gibson made her squirm some until he gave up some details.
Points on the board: Revealing that she was getting phone briefings from foreign leaders. Asked, "Do you believe the United States should try to restore Georgian sovereignty over South Ossetia and Abkhazia," she said, crisply pronouncing the name of the Georgian leader,
"We're going to continue good relations with Saakashvili there. I was able to speak with him the other day and giving him my commitment, as John McCain's running mate, that we will be committed to Georgia. And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable...."
A low point: trying to pass off she was some Russian expert because Alaska is near Russia's edge. "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."