During last night’s vice-presidential debate, the candidates were asked about their views on the Bush administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and whether they support a two-state solution:
Of course, there were no expectations that Sarah Palin’s gubernatorial experiences would give her any particular insights for answering this question. In turn, she relied on her talking points:
A two-state solution is the solution. And Secretary Rice, having recently met with leaders on one side or the other there, also, still in these waning days of the Bush administration, trying to forge that peace, and that needs to be done, and that will be top of an agenda item, also, under a McCain-Palin administration.
Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel, that that is what they would like to see.
We will support Israel. A two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem, those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements.
They succeeded with Jordan. They succeeded with Egypt. I’m sure that we’re going to see more success there, also.
It’s got to be a commitment of the United States of America, though. And I can promise you, in a McCain-Palin administration, that commitment is there to work with our friends in Israel.
There’s a good deal to criticize here. Performance-wise, Palin’s answer rambled out of control, shifting from the two-state solution to Iran to historic Arab-Israeli compromises, and back to the two-state solution (I think). And policy-wise, it seems unlikely that any administration would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
But at least Palin didn’t make any factual errors. Rather, she left that to her supposedly “expert” critics. First, as Michael Totten noted, Joe Biden surprised everyone by announcing that “we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon.” (Whether Biden meant Syria – and whether he was invoking the Lebowskian “royal we” – remains unclear.) Then, later that evening, Chris Matthews chimed in with this gem:
MATTHEWS: When she talks about recognizing Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of Israel, does she know that-and she put it together in a couple sentences. And I really question if she knows what she’s talking about. She talked very persuasively about Israel having put together a very good treaty with Jordan, the kingdom of Jordan … and, of course, the Egyptian country as well.
MATTHEWS: … Egypt, the republic-United Arab Republic, and she put it all together. And then she said, move the capital. Doesn’t she know that, if you move the capital, by the United States’ standards, and move our embassy down there, that that breaks apart both those treaties? Does she really know what she’s talking about, Pat?
It’s pretty clear that Matthews – despite his handful of trips to Israel – is the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. For starters, the United Arab Republic hasn’t existed for nearly half a century. (Does Matthews also still speak of the Trucial States?) Moreover, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would have no consequence for Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt or Jordan – that is, so long as the U.S. embassy isn’t built on the Muslim holy sites, in which Jordan maintains a “special role.”
If used correctly, these gaffes could help Palin as much as they discredit Biden and the MSM. After all, compared to the politicians and pundits who have supposedly been watching the Arab-Israeli conflict for years, Palin has been outstanding in getting her facts straight. This shows that she is a quick study – a good thing to be when facing a veteran senator with decades of errors in facts and judgment to his name.