Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sarah Palin: Not Tough Enough for Katie Couric

If a candidate for Vice President of the United States of America is unapologetic about her pro-life position, shouldn’t she be capable of answering a question about whether or not abortion should be illegal in cases of rape or incest? What does it say about her if she is afraid that she will be “clobbered” for answering the question?

John Ziegler recently interviewed Sarah Palin for his upcoming documentary Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Got Smeared. Talking about her interview with Katie Couric, Palin said “I knew it didn’t go well the first day.” She said she asked her advisors in the McCain campaign, “Why are we going to go back for more?” According to Ziegler, it was Couric’s questions about abortion that convinced Palin that Couric was “out to get her.”

Couric: Let me get your take, if I could Gov. Palin, on a number of social
issues. Because that's, they've gotten some attention, your position. If a
15-year-old is raped by her father,you believe it should be illegal for her to
get an abortion. Why?
Palin: I am pro-life. And I'm unapologetic about my position there on pro-life.
And I understand good people on both sides of the abortion debate. In fact, good
people in my own family have differing views on abortion and when it should be
allowed. So … I respect people's opinion on this. Now, I would counsel to choose
life. I would like to see a culture of life in this country. But I would also
like to see taking it one step further. Not just saying I am pro-life, and I
want fewer and fewer abortions in this country. But I want, then, those women
who find themselves in circumstances that are absolutely less than ideal, for
them to be supported for adoptions to be made easier. For more support given to
foster parents and adoptive families. That is my personal opinion on this.
Couric: But, ideally, you think it should be illegal …
Palin: If you …
Couric: …for a girl who was raped or the victim of incest to get an abortion?
Palin: I'm saying that, personally, I would counsel the person to choose life,
despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves
in. And, um, if you're asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should
anyone end up in jail for having an … abortion, absolutely not. That's nothing I
would ever support. Then, now, some may characterize my position as being
extreme, because I am pro-life … and I want women empowered to know that, you
know, we can help them. They can be strong enough, and they can have the
resources provided them to give that child life. The extremism, to me, is those
who would support partial-birth abortion. Those who would disallow parental
consent when it comes to a minor child who would seek an abortion. I think
parents should have a say in that. They should be a part of their child's health
care there. And those who, like Barack Obama, would support measures that would
actually allow in a botched abortion, late-term abortion, that child being born
alive, to allow it to not receive medical help to save that child's life. That's
extremism to me. That is so far on the left side of the political spectrum and
public sentiment in this country. That's the extremism to me.
Couric: So you want more support so women have more options, or girls have more
options. But you also think it should be illegal, that there should be no
punishment if a woman does break the law… Palin: I would like to see more women
given more support so that those of us who say, "You know, a culture of life is
what we believe." Is best … for human kind, you know, to respect the sanctity of
every human life. And to understand … that we live in a pretty messed up world
sometimes. When you consider what's going on in this world. The most promising
and good ingredients in this world … is a child. The hope that a child brings.
And just understanding that. Being near and dear to my heart. I want to do all
that I can to reduce the number abortions. And to usher in that culture of life.
And in my respect for the other side of this issue, I have not spoken with one
woman who do, may disagree with me on, when abortions could or should be
allowed, not one woman has disagreed, as we sit down and rationally talk about …
the common goal we have, and that is to see fewer and fewer abortions. And to
provide more and more women support in this world.
Couric: Some people have credited the morning-after pill as for decreasing the
number of abortions. How do you feel about the morning after pill?
Palin: Well …I'm all for contraception. And I'm all for any preventative
measures that are legal and safe and should be taken. But, Katie, again and we
can go round and round about the abortion issue, but I am one to seek a culture
of life. I am one to believe that life starts at the moment of conception. And I
would like to see …
Couric: And so you don't believe in the morning-after pill.
Palin: I would like to see fewer and fewer abortions in this world. And, again,
I haven't spoken with anyone who disagrees with my position on that.
Couric: I'm sorry. I just want to ask you again. Do you not support or do you
condone or condemn the morning after pill?
Palin: Personally, and this is isn't McCain-Palin policy …
Couric: That's OK. I'm just asking you.
Palin: But, personally, I would not choose to participate in that kind of
contraception. It …
Couric: Do you think it should be illegal?
Palin: I don't think that it should necessarily be illegal. But we can go,
again, round and round. And what the foundation I believe of this debate, of
this discussion, even of your questions, is do you believe in the sanctity of
life? Are you are you gonna side on the pro-life position or not when decisions
are in front of you and you have to make them? Now, as a vice president, what
positions would a vice-president have to take on the abortion issue? They're not
legislating. A vice president does not make law.
Couric: But if you have a moral problem with abortion, it seems to me you would
do everything in your power to make it illegal and overturn Roe v. Wade and …
Palin: Of course, it's the legislature, the law-making branch of our third, of
our three branches of government …
Couric: But they …
Palin: …makes the laws.
Couric: …your vision or the administration's vision.
Palin: Well, let's be practical about it and let's be realistic about a
vice-president's role in this debate. I can personally share my views, which I
don't apologize when I share my views of being pro-life. And, you know, I'll do
that all day long if you want me to. But a vice-president does not make law. And
a vice-president does not interpret the law either.

Couric: So you're saying this won't be a top issue for you if you're elected?
Palin: I will do all that I can personally to encourage that culture of life, to
remind women that I believe with more empowerment, they - more and more women
will realize that they are strong enough … and they are able to carry a child
and still continue a career, still continue education opportunities, all with
the goal being fewer and fewer abortions in this world.

Last Wednesday, Ziegler spoke with Chicago Christian Radio Host Sandy Rios and explained the effect this exchange had on Palin:

Sarah Palin knew after round one that this was a bad idea. Now I want to make something very very clear to people because it may not be obvious from that clip [from Ziegler’s interview with Palin]. Cause it might just sound like Sarah Palin is saying “wow I just wasn’t strong enough to take on Katie Couric. I got my butt whipped and you know why would I go back into the ring again?” That wasn’t it. What it was was and I think your listeners will especially find this interesting and important. What it was was that she could tell from Katie Couric’s attempts, numerous attempts, on the subject of abortion to trip her up into saying something that could be used to try to make her look bad or make her look like an extremist or what have you . Katie Couric repeatedly, repeatedly—and I’m all in favor of follow up questions—but according to Governor Palin, this was almost a quest on the part of Katie Couric to come up with a way to phrase the abortion question so that Sarah Palin could be made to look bad. And at that point, I think Sarah Palin, and I think she would admit this although I’m not speaking for her would acknowledge that she had a negative attitude towards everything Katie was asking and who would blame her? If you know someone is out to get you, you have to look at every question through the prism of that reality.

Ziegler’s right about one thing: it sounds exactly like Palin wasn’t strong enough to take on Couric. This woman wanted to be Vice-President of the United States of America and yet, she got rattled because Couric wanted her to say whether she thinks abortion should be legal in the case of rape and incest. Palin had previously said of her reactions to Couric, “The Sarah Palin in those interviews is a little bit annoyed. Because man, it’s like no matter what you say, you’re gonna get clobbered. If you choose to answer a question, you’re gonna get clobbered on the answer. If you choose to pivot and go on to another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about, you’ll get clobbered for that too.”

It is interesting to compare Palin’s discombobulation to Mike Huckabee’s reaction to the same kind of question from NBC’s Tim Russert.

MR. RUSSERT: South Dakota had some proposed legislation to outlaw all abortion
except saving the life of a mother, no exceptions for rape or incest. You said
you’d sign that. Why?

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, I always am going to err on the side of life, Tim. I
believe life is precious. But I think the issue for many of us who are in the
pro-life camp—and I have been since, you know, I was a teenager. This is not
something that I’ve been all over the board on, it’s consistent. It’s because of
my view that God is the creator and instigator of life. But I think those of us
in the pro-life movement, we have to do also some growing and expanding. We have
to remind people that life, that we believe it begins at conception. It doesn’t
end at birth. And if we’re really pro-life we have to be concerned about more
than just the gestation period. As a pro-life person, as a governor, look at my
record. Yes, did we pass pro-life legislation? We did. But we also did things
that improved the environmental quality and the conservation issues that would
affect a child’s air and water. We also made sure that he had a better
education, that access to affordable health care would be better. So I think
that real pro-life people need to be concerned about affordable housing, we need
to be concerned about safe neighborhoods, access to a college education. That,
for me, is what pro-life has to mean.

If you read the entire interview to see the way he stood up to Russert’s tough grilling, you can understand why Huckabee told Esquire magazine that Couric was “extraordinarily gentle” with Palin. Say what you want about the man, Huckabee is not afraid to say what he believes and he is not rattled by questions about his beliefs. Unlike Palin, he does not avoid tough questions for fear of being clobbered.

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