Palin Interviews with Greta “On the Record” – Blah (Part 1), Blah (Part 3), Blah (Part 4)
Reported by Julie - November 27, 2009 -
Co-written with Guest Blogger Nayef
Losing the vice-presidential election, looking like a blithering idiot on interviews with Katie “Gotcha” Couric and Charlie Gibson, mixing up Iran and Iraq on Hannity – none of that has inspired the Queen of Inanities, Sarah Palin, to bone up on international issues or her do her homework on . . . well, anything. After all, she’s Sarah Palin – beloved by book groupies everywhere (well, except the ones who booed her in Indiana, and the Army, which asked her not to speak at Ft. Bragg for fear she would, as usual, trash our Commander in Chief, President Obama), treated to cupcake interviews on O’Reilly, Hannity, and, now, van Susteren. The interviews, er, the Palin Monologues, conducted in conjunction with Palin's book tour, kicked off (11/23-11/24/09) with Greta van Susteren sitting idly by while Palin displayed an astonishing naiveté and lack of experience on international issues. Wait, was this an interview? I thought an interview by a real journalist was supposed to be, like, probing questions and investigation. No such luck. van Susteren allowed Palin to wander where she chose in the “interview,” and yet Palin was still able to display her ignorance. Even Greta couldn’t save her. With (a whole lot of) video.
Where do we start?
On the India-Pakistan front, Palin declared that “they both need to understand that each other are not the problem, the Taliban is the problem.” This is simply not true – not that truth or history matters to Palin, or, evidently, van Susteren. India and Pakistan have a long standing conflict over the Kashmir region and had two wars over the issue in 1965 and 1999, apart from the initial military confrontation in the late 1940’s when both nations declared independence. As reported by NuclearFiles.org, “India accused Pakistan of supporting terrorist groups. Pakistan, in turn, pledges its support for Kashmiri freedom fighters. One state's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.”
On Iran, Palin said Brazil should “start looking at joining us in the sanctions that we should be applying to Iran instead of just talking about the sanctions, all these great ideas that we have to not allow them to capitalize on favorable monetary deals or continued imports of petroleum, refined petroleum products, but actually sanctioning this country until they start changing their behavior. I'd like Brazil to join in that.” As with everything else that’s not one of her memorized talking points, Palin seems to be blissfully unaware that sanctions do in fact already exist. There have been three rounds of sanctions: UN Resolutions 1737, 1747, and 1803. These sanctions deal with arms and nuclear technology, as well as freezing assets. Palin doesn’t mind that more sanctions against Iran will hurt the people of Iran, rather than the government. There was so much outrage about the repressive measures of the government against the people post-elections, but if the repressive measures against the same people come from sanctions, all is well.
The UN sanctions of the 1990’s hurt the Iraqi people directly. The literacy rate stood at 78% in 1977 and 87% for females by 1985. Sanctions and ensuing poverty prevented a lot of parents from being able to send their kids to school, and cities had fewer financial ability to build more schools, which meant that by 2000, 23.7% of primary school age children dropped out of school. Infant mortality rate also increased sharply, from 47 per 1000 before the sanctions to 108 per 1000. Child mortality rate also increased from 56 to 131 per 1000. Though casualty estimates differ, the least estimate is that 170,000 children lost their lives due to the sanctions, according to the “Project on Defense Alternatives” study in 2003.
Is this what Palin, the right-wing champion of “family values,” is aiming for?
In Part 4, van Susteren, visibly showing her sorrow at having to ask such hard, probing questions, gave Palin a full-out forum to apply the spin to her resignation as Governor. Palin first stated that it was better for Alaska, since the ethics violations lawsuits she faced were “prohibiting my administration from doing the work for the people. It was costing the state millions of dollars, thousands of staff hours to fight these frivolous, adversarial, opposition-researcher efforts that were thrown at my administration while I was there.” When asked if she can face the same fate on a national scale should she run for (and presumably win) elections in 2012, she gave a different, if not contradictory answer. She said, “In Alaska our administration is set up a little bit differently than anywhere else you're going to find in the country or the federal government where the governor is not protected by the department of law when these frivolous ethics violations charges are filed against you. I have to pay personally for the defense, and I am still paying personally for the defense of all the frivolity.” So, let’s get this straight: She resigned as Governor because Alaska was losing so much money to defend her. Oh, wait, no -- Alaska’s department of law offers no protection and she has to pay out of her personal pocket. What is true is that Palin’s stated price tag of “millions of dollars” for the State of Alaska to defend her is untrue. Mudflats determined the number to be under $300,000 – and the most expensive investigation was the one Palin initiated against herself as a political gambit in “Troopergate” during the campaign.
Of course, no mention was made of the fund that had been set up to raise donations in order to defend her, the Alaska Fund Trust – or the fact that an ethics violation was filed against Palin alleging that the Fund was, in itself, an ethics violation. The complaint alleged, in part, that “Palin is misusing the governor's office for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts.” Of course, mention of the fund by Palin or van Susteren might have brought to light the fact that, in July 2009, an independent investigator found “probable cause that Gov. Sarah Palin's legal defense fund is in violation of state ethics laws.” On its website, the Alaska Fund Trust stated, “These baseless accusations have cost Alaska more than $1 million in public monies to defend, and Governor Palin has incurred more than half a million dollars in personal debt defending her official actions as Governor.” Another day, another “let’s not let facts get in the way.”
Palin went on -- uninterrupted by van Susteren -- to apply some more positive spin to her resignation, saying, “If I were still Governor today I would be shackled by the adversaries, by those who were hell-bent on seeing personal destruction and personal bankruptcy of me and of my family, that’s why they kept filing . . . these lawsuits and frivolous ethics charges . . . the politics of personal destruction . . . it’s why good people stay out of politics . . . you can become ineffective if you start hunkering down and kowtowing to what they’re gonna do to you next . . . we are gonna get out there and we’re gonna fight even harder . . . .” van Susteren, ever the journalist, failed to ask how a book tour which benefits no one except Palin could qualify as fighting for anyone.
Spinmeister Palin let loose with some Palinanities, saying, “Instead of just hunkering down, quitting basically as a Governor by sitting behind my desk, not doing anything . . . ,” as though that were her only option in the face of harsh criticism. Palin then said, “I’m not a quitter,” and quoted dear old Dad: “I wasn’t retreating, I was reloading.”
Part 1 of the Palin Monologues covered the economy, and van Susteren treated Palin as something of an expert on how to get the economy “roaring back to life.” van Susteren noted that there are “different needs in different communities . . . How do you account for the fact that maybe the poor African-American in Detroit, who has no skills, might be so vastly different than someone who loses a business in northern California?”
Palin, ever the minimalist when discussing topics that require some depth of knowledge, answered glibly, “Oh, fundamentally, everything is the same. Fundamentally, America's economy was built on free market enterprise. It was built on these principles that allowed the private sector to grow and to thrive and prosper and for our families to keep more of what we earn. Where we are right now in America in about the last 11 months is seeing this reversal of those principles that were applied to build up our economy . . . Fundamentally, everybody is equal in America. Everyone has equal opportunity to earn and produce and build. And the fundamentals of a strong economy have got to be applied again, as they were, like I just said, back in the '80s, when Reagan faced a worse recession than what we're facing today. Let's learn from that piece of American history and apply the same solutions.” But Palin is wrong – again. Everybody in American is not equal. As noted by Nolan Chart, “If we all started with the same amount of money and assets, Conservative assumptions about the economy would make sense . . . Most wealthy people grew up in wealthy families and received their money from their parents or other older relatives and thus had access to more opportunities from the very beginning, not because of their abilities but because they were lucky enough to be born in the right families. (Paris Hilton is perhaps the most notorious example.) Meanwhile, those who grew up in poverty, even if they are just as smart, beautiful, and hardworking as the average rich person, tend to remain in poverty because they have less access to the money they would need to invest, to educate themselves, and to afford the latest technologies.” Someone like Palin, who calls herself a “normal American” but had, at least during the campaign, assets of over $1 million clearly doesn’t get it. (Those assets may be somewhat less now, with all those pesky little ethics violations.)
Palin continued down the path of misinformation, saying, “President Reagan stayed true to his convictions that smaller government, tax cuts would rebuild the economy. It worked. Let's learn from what he did back there in the '80s, not go down this nonsensical road growing more debt, building more government and expect that somehow, magically, everything is going to just work out OK.” A fact that neither Palin nor van Susteren felt it necessary to mention was that, as reported by the Huffington Post, “The deficit nearly tripled during the Reagan presidency, partly due to tax cuts and increases in military spending.”
So, let’s recap: First, remind me -- Greta van Sustern's a journalist, right? Palin glibly blathered about India and Pakistan – and got it wrong. Her contradictory reasons for resigning as Governor were – as she knew – just so much baloney. And as for the facts about Alaska’s bill for her ethics violations? Wrong. She claimed that “fundamentally, everything is the same” for the poor and the uber-rich. Spoken like a true elitist – and wrong. She cited Reagan’s policies as being the key to healing the deficit. Wrong. Largely unchallenged by van Susteren, Palin said the only things she knew – memorized talking points – and facts and truth be damned. Well, one thing is absolutely certain: She’ll never be able to accuse van Susteren of any “gotcha” journalism.