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Eagleburger Tries To Walk Back "Stupid" Palin Criticism

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Appearing on Fox News on Friday, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger awkwardly fell on his sword, entirely taking back his previously critical assessment of Sarah Palin's readiness to serve as president, which was given to NPR on Thursday night.

As the Huffington Post noted earlier, Eagleburger's endorsement of McCain is frequently cited by the Republican nominee. But clearly, the opinions of President George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State were less welcome on the subject of Palin, whom Eagleburger had said was "of course" not "prepared to take over the reins of the presidency." Later, in his NPR interview, Eagleburger said, "Give her some time in the office and I think the answer would be, she will be [pause] adequate."

By Friday afternoon, however, Eagleburger was more eager to chastise himself than Palin.

"You are witnessing something quite unique: a man who is about to talk to you while he has his foot in his mouth," Eagleburger said when asked if his NPR quotes had been taken out of context.

"I made a serious mistake yesterday. I was quoted correctly," Eagleburger said. "I wasn't thinking when i said it -- in fact, I was discussing foreign policy, and this was in that context, and I was just plain stupid, and if I had given the flim-flam artist Barack Obama some success with this I am deeply apologetic."

It was a fine performance, but the Fox News host proceeded to take Eagleburger's retraction too far, resulting in another moment in which Eagleburger belittled Palin. Host Stuart Varney asked, "You do feel that she's a quick learner and would be good as vice president given a few days?"

To which Eagleburger paused and said, "A few days? No." Later, however, he did argue that Palin has "made it clear she's a quick learner," despite the fact that "she didn't know anything about foreign affairs, nor should she have on the basis of what she had done."

Winding up his extended apology, Eagleburger made clear, "I have done my best and I apologized to the McCain people."

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Also of interest is the fact that Eagleburger wasn't the only conservative to call Palin unprepared on Thursday. As Think Progress noted, Nevada Sen. John Ensign told a local reporter: "Well, I do not think that Barack Obama or her are experienced enough to be President of the United States -- neither one of them, and Hillary Clinton was much more qualified to be President than Barack Obama was, but that who the nominee is. John McCain is much more qualified than Barack Obama and certainly Joe Biden is much more qualified than Sarah Palin is. I'd rather have the most qualified person at the top of the ticket, not number two."