Interested in Governor Palin’s thoughts on the Bush Doctrine? Read below.

First (and be honest), can you define the phrase “Bush Doctrine” without looking it up on Wikipedia? I couldn’t. Or, rather, I thought it meant making the US safer by turning non-democracies into democracies, with the key current attempts being Afghanistan and Iraq. Am I wrong? Charlie Gibson thinks so.

A political campaign is interesting because it highlights the way that we can all have access to the same “facts” and yet disagree so completely about their meaning. Jack Shafer claims that this exchange is an “embarrassment” for Palin, that Gibson is reduced to “showing all the gentleness of a remedial social studies teacher” as he is forced to explain to Palin what the Bush Doctrine is.

Others disagree with that. See Instapundit for a round-up. My take is that Palin does fine here. (I only watched this snippet of the interview and have only seen snippets of her before.) The key issue is that the phrase “Bush Doctrine” is ambiguous. Wikipedia tells us: “The Bush Doctrine is a term used to describe various related foreign policy principles of United States president George W. Bush, enunciated in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.” Exactly correct. Part of the doctrine is what I have highlighted (making more democracies), part is what Gibson highlighted, albeit sloppily, (“pre-emptive strike”), and part is other stuff. See Wikipedia for links and details.

There is little doubt that if we gave a multiple choice or essay test on the basics of current US foreign policy (not what the policy should be, just the facts of what the policy currently is, what is going on in the world, details of the last 50 years of history, and so on) that Obama would do better than McCain and Biden would do better than Palin. But how many people will switch their vote from McCain/Palin to Obama/Biden because of that? Very, very few.

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