Friday, September 12, 2008

Genuinely Calculated

There are a lot of fakers out there. They put on a facade that they care, or that they don't care, while inside they feel conflicted. However, for all the superficiality out there, we should not confuse good calculated planning with insincerity. It is possible to be genuine in our calculation.

In fact, if you really care about an issue you probably should think about what you are going to say. Maybe even write it down. But, at the same time, I see the value of speaking from the gut, off the cuff. But neither method is an absolute indicator of heartfelt sentiment. This is because, often times our gut speaks what our mind would not, and in the converse, our mind speaks often what our gut would not.

This brings me of course back to politics, and more specifically politicians. There is nothing wrong with being coached on policy that you believe in so that you say what you want to say. However, it is bad if you are being coached to say something 'politically correct' when you don't agree with it. 

In Palin's interviews with Charles Gibson so far, you can tell she was coached, and you can see sincerity. However, she does come across as conflicted. This however, is not entirely her fault. Gibson asks tough policy questions (that would most likely not be asked to Obama or Biden as flatly), and is trying to paint her a certain way. Asking whether she thought Iran posed and 'existential threat' to Israel, Mr. Gibson tried to imply with follow ups that she would be hawkish. Palin repeated that she believed Israel is within its right to defend its sovereignty from a legitimate threat. She at no point claimed that the US would get involved, but didn't say it wouldn't either, and, given the delicate nature of the situation, it was the correct response. 

This brings me to a problem with these candid interviews. Regardless of who is being interviewed, there are certain questions that cannot be answered yes or no without limiting the ability of the state department in its negotiations, and putting our foot in our mouths. The issues, as much as they might seem black and white to some, are grayer than that. Trying to force a candidate to respond in an ideological way does not seem like a very revealing way to explore character. The best response therefore, in my opinion for whatever candidate would often be, "I cannot say exactly what position we would take at this time, because I do not have the full intelligence reports in front of me." Then of course, if given a more solid hypothetical, I could answer. For instance if Mr. Gibson were to say, "Let's say we knew 'x', would you do 'y'?" Then it would be easier to come up with a good specific response. When questions are to the point, but general at the same time, they are misleading and unenlightening. That is why hypothetical questions are good, because they provide a narrowing and also reveal the person being asked.

I know Gibson is being put in a difficult situation in this interview, but that is always the case with news reporters. They need to keep their opinions in check, remain objective, but get the goods at the same time. They have to tiptoe, and they have to be rough. It's a difficult job, but he knows the right way to do it. Having not seen the entire interview I cannot condemn and I cannot say I approve. So far my position is mixed. Gibson treats Palin with a certain condescension, like when he asked her if she was ready to be President. Palin said yes, 'without blinking' and Gibson then said that she then must have been showing hubris. But, at the same time, the initial question is absolutely fair and necessary. His further conjecture however, was perhaps not quite so journalistic, and showed bias, as did much of his demeanor. However, at the same time Palin's referring to Gibson as 'Charlie' to create a more comfortable intimacy that never existed to begin with didn't work either.

So, I suppose all I can do now is watch and see what happens tonight.

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