Charlie Gibson Got it Wrong (UPDATE)

by McQ | September 12, 2008 11:20 am

Josh Marshall[1] and much[2] of the[3] left[4] thinks Gibson’s question about the “Bush Doctrine” showed Palin to be lacking in understanding concerning foreign affairs.

The awkward moment when Charlie Gibson tries his best not to press the point that Sarah Palin doesn’t know what he’s referring to when he asks her about the “Bush Doctrine” …

Yet, as it is turning out, it seems that Gibson was asking her to guess what his interpretation of the doctrine was.

Why? The document popularly known as “the Bush Doctrine[5]” is, in fact, the The National Security Strategy[6] published in September 2002. It’s table of contents gives a broad overview of the points which make up the “Bush Doctrine”:

1. Overview of America’s International Strategy

2. Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity

3. Strengthen Alliances to Defeat Global Terrorism and Work to Prevent Attacks Against Us and Our Friends

4. Work with others to Defuse Regional Conflicts

5. Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons of Mass Destruction

6. Ignite a New Era of Global Economic Growth through Free Markets and Free Trade

7. Expand the Circle of Development by Opening Societies and Building the Infrastructure of Democracy

8. Develop Agendas for Cooperative Action with the Other Main Centers of Global Power

9. Transform America’s National Security Institutions to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities of the Twenty-First Century

If you read the document you’ll find that at a minimum there are 4 main parts of the Bush Doctrine, of which preemption is only one (Preemption, Military Primacy, New Multilateralism, and the Spread of Democracy).

When Gibson asked “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?”, she asked “In what way, Charlie?”

Given the list of the different topics covered by the “Bush Doctrine” or even boiled down to the main 4, that seems a very legitimate clarification question.

Was Gibson talking about the spread of democracy, outlined by the Bush Doctrine? The agenda for cooperation with other “main centers of global power”? The transformation of the national security institution to meet the new threat?

Or was he asking about the plan to defuse other regional conflicts?

None of the above. So when she asked “his world view?”, it seems that she was more in tune with what the “Bush Doctrine” included than was Gibson.

When Gibson finally laid out what part of the doctrine he was talking about, she answered the question.

So, it appears, it’s not at all the “gotchya” that those who were looking and hoping for a stumble think they have.

UPDATE: It gets even better. Does anyone know who said this on September 21, 2002?

The president in his speech last night, very forceful. Four out of five Americans watched it. Everybody gathered around the television set last night. The president issued a series of demands to the Taliban, already rejected. We’ll get to that in a moment. He also outlined what is being called the Bush Doctrine, a promise that all terrorists organizations with global reach will be found, stopped and defeated.

And this?

People were looking for a Bush Doctrine. They may have found it when he said the war on terror will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped or defeated. That’s pretty broad. Broader than you expected?

Why the same guy who questioned Sarah Palin yesterday on the Bush Doctrine:

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, 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?

Charles Gibson[7].

[Crossposted at QandO[8]]

  1. Marshall:
  2. much:
  3. of the:
  4. left:
  5. the Bush Doctrine:,0,6804685.story
  6. The National Security Strategy:
  7. Charles Gibson:
  8. QandO:

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