When Palin was rolled out by McCain in 2008 it didn't take too long to notice she was woefully unprepared for even the simplest interviews. Questions such as "What do you read?" by Katie Couric were greeted with consternation; or "What is the Bush doctrine?" by Charlie Gibson just threw her for a loop, and invited numerous parodies. So you'd expect two years later, on a sympathetic network FOX News, on a subject Republicans have reduced to a check list of boilerplate talking points that Palin would be both in her element and comfortable with the subject. Unfortunately for her that turned out not to be the case at all. In the end even Bill O'Reilly looked a bit taken aback by her evasiveness and non-answers, like when a teacher gives you that "Did you even study for this test?" look.
And it's evident in their respective body language: O'Reilly quizzical, raised eyebrows, prompting her answers at times; Palin hesitant, clasping her hands together, biting her lips, as if afraid she'll make a slip-up and start parroting George Bush or pre-2010 John McCain on immigration reform.
Ellen at News Hounds captured some of the exchange like this:
O’Reilly interrupted again. “So no amnesty. But what do you do with these folks? Do you make them register with the federal government? Do you tell ‘em they have 60 days to get out of here before we put you in jail? What do you do with them?”
Now Palin had an answer. “Do we make them register with the federal government? Yes, we do.”
“And if they don’t register with the federal (government)? Say you give them 60 days to register with the federal government… Say they didn’t do it.”
"You deport ‘em," Palin said.
So O’Reilly asked what she would do with those who do register. “Then what? Do you give them green cards to work right away? What do you do with them?”
Palin obviously had no idea. “You know, there has to be that expectation that they will work and that they will contribute.” Then, she changed the subject by saying, “Bill, it makes me uncomfortable that we’re even going down that path...”
O'Reilly shot back, "You have to go down the path because it’s gonna come up."
Palin, in her condescending, schoolmarm tone, lectured, “American citizens who are here lawfully, they need to be the ones with the first shot at getting these jobs. We cannot make it easy on those who have chosen to be illegally here."
But O'Reilly was not going to be lectured by her. "They’re here and we can’t starve ‘em to death… This is where it gets very complicated, Governor."
Palin pursed her lips even tighter. Don’t tell me she wasn’t piqued. “Then we won’t complicate it any more. Let’s keep it simple and let’s say no. If you are here illegally and if you don't follow the steps... to somehow allow you to work, if you're not gonna do that, you're gonna be deported."
O’Reilly got the last word, underscoring her poor command of policy. He reiterated, “Whoever the next president is, is going to have to deal with 12 million people and that’s going to be very, very difficult."
And therein lies the rub for Sarah Palin's future political aspirations: how to avoid the vexing questions of real world problems when you're completely clueless. That the Half-term Governor has gotten this far on so little says something more than most of us ever need to know about the political process.