It's one of the most cringe-worthy moments in recent American political history:
"Do you believe in the Bush Doctrine?"
The awkward pause, then the smug, patronizing comeback.
"In what respect, Charlie?"
Charlie Gibson, taken aback, perhaps realizing that this is The Moment for which he'll be known for the rest of his career.
"The Bush -- w-w-well, what do you interpret it to be?"
And then the painful, filibustering non-answer that I can hardly bear to watch without feeling embarrassed for Sarah Palin, John McCain, and this great nation of ours.
I'm not saying that every American besides Governor Palin knows what the Bush Doctrine is. Hell, I wasn't sure I knew what it was until Charlie Gibson confirmed it for me. But then again, I'm not a Republican governor who's running for national office.
Now, if Joe Biden had said this on national TV, the election would be over. Obama would either be calling Hillary Clinton and begging her to take over the #2 slot or he'd be busy getting to work on his concession speech.
But these are the Republicans, they of vaunted attack machines and vast right-wing conspiracies. Masters of spin, purveyors of semi-libelous commercials, wizards of righteous indignation and instigators of class warfare. If Sarah Palin doesn't know what the Bush Doctrine is, well, my goodness, neither do a lot of hardworking, God-fearing hockey moms out there in the heartland. They don't have time to read those fancy city newspapers with lots of big words explaining the Bush Doctrine. They're not eggheads like Barack Obama and Joe Biden, those elitist intellectuals who sit around studying doctrines while raising taxes on hardworking Americans like you and me.
You think Governor Palin is going to waste her time reading books about the Bush Doctrine? No, she's busy with the responsibilities that come with being governor of the great state of Alaska. She's got moose to field-dress, bridges to nowhere to say "No" to, jets to sell on eBay. Maybe community organizers have the time to talk about the Bush Doctrine. But Sarah Palin's too busy trying to reform Washington. By way of Alaska.
Before long, Obama and Biden will have to defend themselves against accusations that they're smart. They'll start claiming that they not only didn't know what the Bush Doctrine is but that they were unaware that Bush was even president. "We thought we were running against his father," they'll say. "We were too busy going to church and shooting animals and saying 'No' to lobbyists to pay attention to any of that Washington election nonsense. Hell, we don't even know how to read."
And the election will become about who's dumber and more ignorant.
And you know which party's going to win that one.
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