Here is the transcript of Katie Couric’s first interview with Sarah Palin. Couric was really tough, let me tell you! Here are some quotes, along with my reaction:
1. Katie asked Palin about Rick Jones, McCain’s campaign manager whose lobbying firm received payments from Freddie Mac until last month. Palin replied: “My understanding is that Rick Davis recused himself from the dealings of the firm. I don’t know how long ago, a year or two ago that he’s not benefiting from that. And you know, I was–I would hope that’s not the case.”
Katie then asked: “But he still has a stake in the company so isn’t that a conflict of interest?”
And Palin responded: “Again, my understanding is that he recused himself from the dealings with Freddie and Fannie, any lobbying efforts on his part there.”
She’s not afraid to say that she does not know. Maybe that’s a safe answer. Or perhaps it shows she’s out-of-touch with her own campaign. But should we expect her to have encyclopedic knowledge of everyone in the McCain campaign? Maybe not. But I hope a President McCain will run a good background check on those he appoints. We don’t want another FEMA hack! Also, did Obama know about the Fannie and Freddie connections of Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines?
At first, I was disappointed when Palin simply repeated the same answer after Katie asked her follow-up question, but the answer may actually address what Katie is asking. If Rick Jones did not deal personally with Fannie and Freddie, then is it his fault that his firm received money from them? But, of course, the facts are currently under dispute.
2. Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin if there is a risk of another Great Depression. Couric was the first to mention a depression in that interview. And Palin’s answer was “yes,” assuming we do nothing. McCain said on CBS News (with a befuddled look) that he wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re headed for a depression, but we should acknowledge that there are potentially serious problems ahead. Doesn’t everyone agree on that–Republican and Democrat? (The exception would be those who think the government should stay out of the whole situation and let the market correct things.) Yet, Katie acts like Sarah Palin is undermining economic confidence by saying we should prevent a financial problem.
3. Note this exchange:
Couric: Would you support a moratorium on foreclosures to help average Americans keep their homes?
Palin: That’s something that John McCain and I have both been discussing–whether that … is part of the solution or not. You know, it’s going to be a multi-faceted solution that has to be found here.
Couric: So you haven’t decided whether you’ll support it or not?
Palin: I have not.
Couric: What are the pros and cons of it do you think?
Palin: Oh, well, some decisions that have been made poorly should not be rewarded, of course.
Couric: By consumers, you’re saying?
Palin: Consumers–and those who were predator lenders also. That’s, you know, that has to be considered also. But again, it’s got to be a comprehensive, long-term solution found … for this problem that America is facing today. As I say, we are getting into crisis mode here.
My comments: Palin usually shows a grasp on nuances when she’s talking about energy or Alaska or polar bears or earmarks. I wish she’d show such a grasp in this case, so as to list the pros and cons of a moratorium on foreclosures (or any policy proposal). Her response was something I could have come up with. Bill Clinton would have given a learned answer to Katie’s question.
4. Here’s another exchange:
Couric: You’ve said, quote, “John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.” Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?
Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie – that, that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.
Couric: But he’s been in Congress for 26 years. He’s been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more. Palin: He’s also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about – the need to reform government.
Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you’ve said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?
Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.
Couric: I’m just going to ask you one more time – not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.
Palin: I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to you.
My comments: On some level, it’s not easy to walk into an interview with encyclopedic knowledge that prepares one for any question a reporter might ask. But the Washington Post’s article, “Always for Less Regulation?,” has been on John McCain’s web site for a while (see here), and it discusses where McCain has supported more regulation. Shouldn’t Sarah Palin be familiar with what’s on her campaign web site?