One of the most compelling reasons not to vote for John McCain is because of his perplexing selection of a neophyte as Vice President. Sarah Palin should not be anywhere near the levers of power in Washington, especially with Cranky John looking fairly old already, and the election hasn’t even occurred.
When asked again this week about her puerile linkage of foreign policy proficiency and Alaska’s proximity to Russia, this time by Katie Couric of CBS News, here is what Ms. Palin said she meant:
“That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land — boundary that we have with — Canada.”
She went on, but lost her way midsentence: “It’s funny that a comment like that was kind of made to — cari — I don’t know, you know? Reporters …”
Ms. Couric said, “Mocked?”
“Yeah, mocked,” said Ms. Palin. “I guess that’s the word. Yeah.”
It is not just painful, but frightening to watch someone who could become the vice president of the United States stumbling around like this in an interview.
Ms. Couric asked Ms. Palin to explain how Alaska’s proximity to Russia “enhances your foreign policy credentials.”
“Well, it certainly does,” Ms. Palin replied, “because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there—”
Gently interrupting, Ms. Couric asked, “Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?”
“We have trade missions back and forth,” said Ms. Palin. “We do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to our state.”
It was surreal, the kind of performance that would generate a hearty laugh if it were part of a Monty Python sketch. But this is real life, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. As Ms. Palin was fumbling her way through the Couric interview, the largest bank failure in the history of the United States, the collapse of Washington Mutual, was occurring.
Not to mention that the trade missions allegedly conducted with Russia are so top secret, nobody will discuss them on the record.
I spent some time on the Governor’s Web site seeking more details about her trade negotiations with Russia. There’s a press release about Gov. Palin’s meeting with a trade mission from the Yukon, but nothing about Russia anywhere in the archives. Tony Knowles, a Democrat who was governor from 1994-2002, led a trade mission — back in 1997, while Palin was running Wasilla — to the remote island of Sakhalin, off the coast of Siberia. That seems to be about it for Russia-Alaska trade missions lately.
When asked for examples of trade missions with Russia that have taken place under Palin’s watch, gubernatorial spokeswoman Kate Morgan refused to answer the question. Morgan said she could not legally discuss any trade missions with me because she’s a state employee and I had first heard this claim through the Couric interview, which was part of Palin’s campaign for the vice-presidency. When I pointed out that any trade missions that occurred would have been official state business, Morgan again noted that I had learned about them in the context of the campaign. “The law is very stringent,” she said, and recommended that I contact the McCain-Palin campaign. Two spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment.