Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama issued a pointed warning yesterday to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying that as president he would be prepared to order U.S. troops into that country unilaterally if it failed to act on its own against Islamic extremists. -- "Obama Says He Would Take Fight to Pakistan," Washington Post, 8-2-07 [emphasis added]
Much has been made of Sarah Palin's response to Charlie Gibson's question about the Bush Doctrine. Now, Chris Cuomo isn't running for VP. But when the GMA anchor got all exercised by Sarah Palin having put all options on the table when it comes to going after terrorists in Pakistan, he was evidently unaware of what you might call the Obama Doctrine on the matter, as described above. Cuomo went so far as to emote about Palin's position constituting a potential "declaration of war" on Pakistan. Even James Carville was forced to take a break from his condescending shtick about Palin to help talk Chris back down, pointing out that Obama had said something similar.
View video here.
Let's start with the Gibson-Palin exchange:
CHARLES GIBSON: Do we have the right to go across the border, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?
Palin was polite enough not to point out that Gibson's question made no sense if we were acting "with" the approval of the Pakistanis.
SARAH PALIN: In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.
GIBSON: Let me finish with this. I got lost in a blizzard of words. Was that a "yes," that you think we have a right to go across the border, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?
What part of "do whatever it takes" did Gibson not understand? Forget a blizzard. If Charlie was lost by what Palin was saying, he could get disoriented by snow flurries in Central Park.
PALIN: I believe America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell-bent on America and our allies. We have got to have all options out there on the table.
This gave Cuomo the vapors. His first sally was to former McCain press secretary and Bush Assistant Secretary of Defense Torie Clarke.
CHRIS CUOMO: Torie Clarke: crossing the border of an ally when they tell you not to? It's going on since July. Seems to be condoned: is this the McCain policy? Very important!
Clarke actually suggested that Palin probably disappointed some of her fans with her nuanced response, then suggested that Obama, McCain and Biden would give similar answers. An incredulous Cuomo virtually shouted in response.
CUOMO: That they would go into an ally's borders? Even if the ally says no? That's a declaration of war, isn't it?!
Cuomo sought succor from Carville, asking "James, please, weigh in on this." But instead of the support he surely expected to find, the Cajun briefly stopped ragin' and helped bring poor Chris back to earth.
JAMES CARVILLE: You know what? I wish I had the facts right in front of me, but I think Obama has addressed that and said that if there were terrorists there, that he would go after them. I don't know think that constitutes an invasion. He had said something to that effect.
Clarke suggested that Obama since backed down from his statement, though a quick Googling doesn't confirm that.
CARVILLE: I don't think it was an invasion that anybody is talking about. Suppose you knew that Bin Laden is in a cave in Pakistan, and you had a five-minute window to get him. Would you put a Predator missile in there?
CUOMO: That's different. That's a big difference from a series of incursions. I think it's a big issue.
Cuomo should really read that WaPo article. Obama was talking about much more than a Predator strike in Pakistan: "as president he would be prepared to order U.S. troops into that country unilaterally."