The Bush Doctrine?

Charles Gibson: Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?

[brief pause]

Gov. Sarah Palin: In what respect, Charlie?

C.G.: ... What do you interpret it to be?

S.P.: His worldview?

C.G.: No, the Bush Doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

-- From “ABC World News” anchor Gibson’s interview with the Republican vice presidential nominee, broadcast Sept. 11.

Charles Gibson: Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?

[brief pause]

John Kenney: I’m not sure I understand the question.

C.G.: The Bush Doctrine. President Bush’s doctrine. The doctrine that he believes in. Do you agree with it?

J.K.: Charlie, I’m hearing you say the word “doctrine” ... .

C.G.: Doctrine is a belief or set of beliefs. The stated principles of government policy.

J.K.: Language of origin, please?

C.G.: Ahh ... my guess is Latin.

J.K.: Doctrine. D-O-C-T...

C.G.: No, no. Mr. Kenney. I didn’t ask for the spelling. I asked if you agree with the Bush Doctrine?

J.K.: Do I agree with what part of it, exactly? I assume, if it is a doctrine, as you say it is, that it has multiple -- what’s the word I’m looking for? -- grommets.

C.G.: I don’t think that’s the word.

J.K.: No? How about parts?

C.G.: Possibly. Let me ask you this. Do you know what it is, sir?

J.K.: Me? Totally. Absolutely, Charlie. No, I was just thinking about your, um, your little microphone. On your tie there. I thought it was an ant.

C.G.: It is very small, yes. But getting back to the Bush Doctrine.

J.K.: To be perfectly frank with you, I’m actually kind of in awe of it.

C.G.: The Bush Doctrine?

J.K.: No, that little microphone. That’s amazing. I can’t believe it gets all the sound.


C.G.: This might help. The Bush Doctrine is the belief that the United States has the right of anticipatory self-defense.

[long pause]

J.K.: OK. That’s not where I went when you said Bush Doctrine initially, Charlie. I’ll be honest. I went somewhere else.

C.G.: And where was that?

J.K.: Honestly? Belgium. My wife and I just returned and it’s really wonderful.

C.G.: Interesting. If I may, I’d like to return to the Bush Doctrine.

J.K.: You said “Bush Doctrine”?

C.G.: Yes.

J.K.: OK, that’s weird, because I’ve been hearing something else completely.

C.G.: And that is?

J.K.: Pimples MacPherson. Guy I went to high school with. Terrible skin condition. Others were quite mean to him. Dear friend.


C.G.: The Bush Doctrine. As I understand it, the notion of anticipatory self-defense.

J.K.: Like karate.

C.G.: No sir, not like karate. The Bush Doctrine.

J.K.: I was there when they named it. They wanted to call it the Bush Paper. I said, “Hey guys, hold on. That’s not good enough. How about doctrine, which is spelled D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E” ... and means what you said a moment ago.

C.G.: Do you mean to tell me you advised the president on the Bush Doctrine?

J.K.: I’m not sure I’d use those words.

C.G.: What words would you use?

J.K.: In English?

C.G.: Do you speak another language in which you’d phrase it?

J.K.: I speak French.

C.G.: You do?

J.K.: I think that depends on what you mean by “speak.”

C.G.: Getting back to the Bush Doctrine.

J.K.: Shoot.

C.G.: Do you agree with it?

J.K.: You seem insistent upon that question, Charlie. What about other questions? What about state capitals? Ask me Nevada.

C.G.: Sir... .

J.K.: Ask me Nevada.


C.G.: What’s the capital of Nevada?

J.K.: Carson City.

C.G.: Now I’d like to get back to the Bush Doctrine. Do you agree with it? And, would you like me to remind you of what it is?

J.K.: I know that a bush is a shrub. A shrub is a plant. A plant is green. Sometimes it’s other colors, I believe, though frankly I’m not sure. Do you see where I’m heading with this?

C.G.: I don’t. The Bush Doctrine. Agree? Yes? Or no?

J.K.: I want to answer your question Charlie. But I want to ask one of you first. Would you lie down with me on the floor? Not as “men” or “women” but just as “people”? Does that answer the question or appeal to you at all? If your expression is any indication, I’m sensing no.

[Weirdly long pause for national television]

C.G.: I ask because the Bush Doctrine is at the heart of the administration’s foreign policy.

J.K.: What might be interesting is if I sing my responses. (singing) Charles Gibson ... reporter and anchor and so much more ... .

C.G.: Let’s move on to domestic policy.

John Kenney is a writer in New York.