The Bush Doctrine is a phrase that has been bandied about so much that it has lost all meaning, like “pro-active”, “synergy” and “mandatory evacuation”. It should come as no surprise that when asked about her opinions on the Bush Doctrine by ABC’s Charles Gibson , Sara Palin’s responded with: “In what respect?”
Rather than clarify his question, Charles Gibson turned his serious interview into an offensive game show by looking down his nose and saying “well, what do you interpret it to be?” I’ll take “Broad, Over-used Political Clichés for 200 please.”
The minute Sara Palin was picked to be on the ticket, I began wondering how long it would take for the media to forgo questioning her positions and begin questioning her intelligence. It is only a matter of time before she gets the “Name the Capital of Tajikistan” pop-quiz posed to her by news reporters who only know the answers themselves because they are holding the cheat sheet passed to them by their staffers. Apparently, Alex Trebec has already been signed up to moderate the Vice-Presidential Debate.
After allowing her a chance to flounder on the question, Charles Gibson than did what he should have done in the first place: clarify. He stated : “The Bush Doctrine is we have the right to self-defense, pre-emptive strike against any country we think is going to attack us.”
That sounds nice, except there is one problem: that is not the Bush Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine was determined almost immediately after September 11th when George W. Bush stated “we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
This simple ideal of doing whatever it takes to root out terrorists across the world and making no distinction between them and the nations who support them has defined every foreign policy decision of this administration. It is the reason we went into Afghanistan and it is the reason we went into Iraq.
In September 2001, this very idea was echoed by none other than Charles Gibson. He stated “The president in his speech last night… issued a series of demands to the Taliban, already rejected. We'll get to that in a moment. He also outlined what is being called the Bush Doctrine, a promise that all terrorists organizations with global reach will be found, stopped and defeated.”
So Charlie, what exactly is the Bush Doctrine? Is it a “pre-emptive strike against any country we think is going to attack us” or is it “a promise that all terrorist organizations with global reach will be found, stopped and defeated?” Can Charlie Gibson answer Charlie Gibson’s own question?
Sadly enough, Charlie’s contemporary slant on the Bush Doctrine seems to be echoed by other members of the media establishment. Shortly after the interview, Anderson Cooper of CNN and his panel of Washington Literati tsked-tsked Sara Palin for not knowing the Bush Doctrine, while also making it very clear that they did not know what it was themselves. It was like watching four mechanics try to treat meningitis.
The real question is this: why has the definition of the Bush Doctrine changed among the media establishment from one of rooting out terrorists and terrorist sympathizers to one of preemptive war? The reason is simple, mainstream America has a different name for the idea that there is no difference between terrorists and the nations that harbor them, it is called “common sense.”
In a post-9/11 world, taking on terrorists and terrorist sympathizers is is not an ideal, it is a mandate. However, a preemptive strike against a country who poses a potential threat is a policy not so easily swallowed. This is why the invasion in Afghanistan went off with little to no opposition, while invading Iraq was protested from the beginning.
Through an Orwellian shift in the meaning of the Bush Doctrine from one that everyone agrees on (terrorist sympathizers=terrorists) to one that most people oppose (shoot first, ask questions later), those who oppose the current administration can use this very term as a bludgeon against Republicans. It would be like asking Sara Palin what she thought of Karl Rove. No answer she could have given would have satisfied them based on their predisposed dislike for the man. Likewise, no answer she could have given would have satisfied the media elite based on their erroneous definition of the Bush Doctrine.
Speaking of words that have lost all meaning, can anyone tell me what “Journalistic Integrity” means anymore?