Gibson exceeded my expectations, asking reasonable, substantive questions, and Palin fell short of my expectations, appearing unprepared, programmed, and generally unaware of current events.
There are more than a few angles to consider, so let's just take this one at a time. As Hilzoy noted last night, and as the video to the right shows, Palin doesn't have the foggiest idea what the Bush Doctrine is. Literally, not a clue about the guiding U.S. foreign policy principle of the last seven years. When she tried to fudge it, her ignorance on the issue was even more glaring.
Second, she really didn't want to answer an important question about U.S. strikes in Pakistan. It's not like this was a curveball -- the issue was in yesterday's New York Times. Eventually, after trying to wiggle out of the question, Palin eventually seemed to support unilateral strikes, which contradicts the stated McCain policy.
Third, Palin believes Russia was "unprovoked" in its military incursion against Georgia. That's just wrong.
Fourth, instead of waving off hypothetical questions about wars with massive nuclear powers, Palin openly suggested it "perhaps" would be necessary to go to war with Russia.
Fifth, Palin insisted we won the Cold War "under Reagan." The USSR collapsed under H.W. Bush, not under Reagan.
Sixth, Palin noted that she's never met a world leader, but she insisted that was a positive trait for a candidate seeking national office.
And finally, we learned that offered the slot on McCain's ticket, Palin didn't hesitate to accept. Presumably, voters are supposed to hear this and think she's decisive. I heard this and thought, "After 19 months as the governor or Alaska, you didn't want to pause and think about the weight, seriousness, and responsibilities associated with this kind of decision? Not even a moment of humility? Who are you, The Decider?"
Ultimately, I found Palin defensive and confused. After a couple of weeks of cramming, she was still woefully out of her depth talking about world affairs. Palin had plenty of soundbites at the ready -- some of which she repeated, word for word, a little too often -- but there was no depth or serious understanding of any subject. It was a reminder of precisely why the McCain campaign has kept her hidden from scrutiny.
And it was eerily reminiscent of watching George W. Bush, circa 2000.