I myself don't quite know what to make of Palin just now. I'd like very much to believe that she is ready, that she can get up to speed in time for Thursday's debate and be the polished and confident politician she was in Alaska. But it's been somewhat difficult to see that as time has gone on, and the Couric interviews, as well as the Gibson interviews, have caused many people to become quite gloomy over Palin's prospects.
The truth of the matter is that we still don't really know whether Palin is up to the challenge, because the same news media that ignores Obama's gaffes and fawns all over him, running puff piece after puff piece while letting him get away with glaring inaccuracies and downright untruths about his record, has been in "attack dog" mode re: Palin from day one. If the Republicans have made some mistakes in terms of grooming Palin to speak to the press, I think their biggest mistake was in thinking for one minute that either Gibson or Couric were going to be "friendly" interviewers, and were going to set aside their fierce pro-Democrat, pro-abortion partisanship long enough to give a pro-life Republican governor a fair hearing.
Long ago I took Rita Marker's Human Life Issues class. One of the things that struck me was the way she talked about pro-lifers and the media, and how, when, and whether we should agree to talk to the news media, whether at the local newspaper level or the national or even international level about issues pertaining to abortion, euthanasia, and other human life concerns.
While I can't quote Mrs. Marker from memory, I do remember enough to paraphrase her advice, which was roughly as follows: the media isn't friendly to us or to our views. They will go out of their way to photograph a frumpy elderly frowning woman with a rosary at a protest rally or in front of a clinic--even if there are dozens of young, attractive, trendily-dressed people there who are smiling and calm as they pray or speak out for life. They will interview five or six people and only run one clip from someone who said something stupid (or they will shorten the clip to make an otherwise intelligent statement sound stupid). They will quote you out of context to make your views sound extreme, and if they run a newspaper article which attributes to you things you didn't even say, the most you will get is a correction buried inside the section two weeks later when the damaging and inaccurate article has already run.
So, based on that, here's some completely unsolicited advice for Sarah Palin:
1. The mainstream media hates you. They hate you personally, they hate your family, and they hate everything you stand for. While there might be one or two sympathetic people out there who actually do like you, none of them work for the major networks, and none of them will be interviewing you or asking you questions or otherwise helping you along. When you are in front of a camera you are surrounded by enemies.Now, I'm perfectly aware that Sarah Palin will never see what I've written here, and I know that I'm probably not saying anything that plenty of other people aren't telling her. I'm just not ready to write off Sarah Palin--not when I feel as though the only time I've seen the real Sarah Palin was during her speech at the GOP convention. And that's frustrating--because I liked that Sarah quite a bit, and was excited about the influence she might eventually have on the party--but it would be maddening to see her lose that chance before she ever really had it.
2. Since this is the case, you must remember that it is not your job to make these people like you. They will never like you. Most of them are so committed to the abortion agenda that they would be hostile to the Pope, if he graciously deigned to allow any of them to talk to him. They will be hostile to you, and the only way for you to handle them is not to waste time being friendly.
3. Though they are hostile and unfriendly, television "talents" are also two things that you should remember because you can turn these to your advantage: self-interested and cowardly. Don't bother cramming all the details of every major piece of legislation passed in the last fifty years into your head so that the next time a Couric or a Gibson calls you out on some obsure fact you'll be ready; instead, learn everything you can about Couric or Gibson (or anybody else who might interview you). Intersperse bits of that knowledge into your answers (e.g. "You know, Katie, John McCain does think we need to fix health care, and as someone who has so tragically lost family members to cancer I know you agree. We may need to work out the details and differences and John McCain can do that in a bipartisan way, but we all know that health care needs fixing" etc.) Some references will flatter them, and others may alarm them, but on the whole knowing that you know about them will impress them more than knowing that you know the history of Smoot-Hawley and its connection to our current global finance issues and solutions proposals or some such thing.
4. When they get aggressive, asking you the same question over and over, don't think this is a good-faith request for clarification; it isn't. I know you already know this ('gotcha' journalism) but don't fall for it on the one hand, or identify it too often on the other. Instead, play the interviewee's favorite trump card, and answer questions like these with questions of your own. (e.g., to Couric's insulting "Are you sorry you said it, Governor?" you might say, "Why do you think I should be sorry, Katie? We've already explained that we're on the same page here, so why do you think I should be sorry?" etc.). Frankly, I'd like to see a lot more Republicans use this method: when silly, stupid, or insulting questions get asked the best response is, "Well, now, why would you ask me that?" Your supporters will get it, you'll turn the tables on the interviewer, and they'll be the ones fumbling for an answer, because they can't say the truth, which is, "We hate you and want you to fail."
5. Go on the offensive in general. I know everybody's been telling you to do this, but do it. The MSM interviewers and reporters are like the meanest, stubbornest, most pig-headed PTA members you've ever encountered, the ones who got hung up on petty bureaucratic questions and were ready to start World War III over school snacks or a change in the recess schedule. I have a feeling you know perfectly well how to steamroll over people like that, so go for it!