Chris Wallace has taken a lot of criticism in recent months from the White House and other Democrats for allegedly crossing that hazy Fox News line between news gathering and conservative punditry. But on Sunday, Wallace had his Fox News colleague Sarah Palin as a guest, and it was a real journalistic interview. Unlike Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck, who spent their interviews with Palin praising her symbolic value, Wallace went after Palin–questioning the logic behind her pro-life views, calling her out on walking away from her job as Alaska Governor (Ronald Reagan never walked away, Wallace points out) and drilling down on her views on everything from Rahm Emanuel to Rush Limbaugh. The climax of the interview happened like this:
WALLACE: All right. Handicap the 2012 GOP presidential race for us. Who’s the front-runner?
PALIN: No idea. I have no idea.
WALLACE: Well, you’re not a very good analyst.
PALIN: Well, fire me, then, Roger. Sorry. I already failed.
She went on to discuss the merits of Paul Ryan, while studiously avoiding comment on Mitt Romney or fellow Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee. A transcript of other key parts from their exchange after the jump.
WALLACE: What do you think of Barack Obama’s presidency so far?
PALIN: He has some misguided decisions that he is making that he is expecting us to just kind of sit down and shut up and accept, and many of us are not going to sit down and shut up. We’re going to say, No, we do not like this…”
WALLACE: Wait, where is — wait, wait. Where is he saying sit down and shut up?
PALIN: In a general — just kind of his general persona, I think, that he has, when he’s up there at a — I’ll call it a lectern — when he is up there and he is telling us, basically, “I know best. My people here in the White House know best, and we are going to tell you that yes, you do want this essentially nationalized health care system.” And we’re saying, “No, we don’t.”
And the messages are not being received by Barack Obama. So I think instead of lecturing, he needs to stop and he needs to listen on health care issues, on national security.
This perceived lackadaisical approach that he has to dealing with the terrorists — we’re saying, “That concerns us, and we’re going to speak up about it. And please, don’t allow this persona to continue where you do try to make us feel like we need to just sit down, shut up and accept what you’re doing to us.” . . .
WALLACE: Let’s turn to Sarah Palin, because there are some questions, quite frankly, I’ve wanted to ask you for a while now.
In your book “Going Rogue,” you say that when you first heard you were pregnant with baby Trig, you wrote this, “I’m out of town. No one knows I’m pregnant. No one would ever have to know.” You made the choice to have Trig, and it obviously — you were showing me earlier pictures of him — it was the right choice for you. Why not allow all women to make their own choice?
PALIN: Well, I believe that these babies in our womb have the right to life, and that’s what I stand on. And I did — I honestly, candidly talked about that in my book when I said, “I can understand the sensitivity of the issue, because I’ve been there. I’ve understood why that fleeting thought would enter a woman’s mind.”
And then when I found out that after ultrasounds, after tests, that Trig would be born with Down syndrome, of course that thought occurred to me again. Wow. This is why a woman would be fearful of less than ideal circumstances and maybe think that a, quote, unquote, “problem” could just be swept away.
And instead, I was able to kind of ratchet back my fears very quickly and remember that no, so many of us who have that fundamental belief in the sanctity of life and the potential for every human innocent life — I got to fall back on that. And that did lead me to make the right decision in allowing this baby to be born, and this baby now turning out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me and my family.
WALLACE: But can you understand where some women…
PALIN: Of course I can…
WALLACE: … some people would say…
PALIN: … understand, and that’s why I wrote that.
WALLACE: … “I applaud your choice…”
PALIN: And that’s why I…
WALLACE: “… let me make my own choice?”
PALIN: … wrote about it as saying that I understand why those thoughts would enter their mind.
I want to empower women, though. I want — and if Trig is an example, and the Pam Tebow’s son, Tim Tebow, is an example, of the potential for every human life, then so be it. Let Trig be that example.
I want women to know that they are strong enough and they are smart enough to be able to do many things at once, including carrying a child, giving that child life, and then perhaps if they’re in less- than-ideal circumstances as they’re carrying a child while they’re trying to pursue career or avocations or education opportunities, less-than-ideal circumstances — giving that child life, which it deserves, and then perhaps looking at adoption or looking at other circumstances after, but not snuffing out the life of the child.
WALLACE: The second thing is your decision to resign as governor of Alaska.
WALLACE: With 17 months left in your term, you said, “I wasn’t going to run for re-election, so I was going to be a lame duck.” You said that the state was being paralyzed because all of your opponents were filing these lawsuits. Didn’t you let your enemies, your opponents, drive you from office?
PALIN: Hell, no! Thankfully, I didn’t. What we did was we won, because the state today — it’s not spending millions of dollars to fight these frivolous lawsuits and frivolous ethics charges, ethics charges like me wearing a jacket with a snow machine logo on it and getting charged for an unethical act for doing such a thing — little, piddly, petty things like that that were costing our state millions of dollars and costing me and my administration, my staff members, about 80 percent of our time fighting those things.
No, we said we’re not going to play this game. We picked our battle and we said, “We’re going to get out there and we’re going to fight for Alaska’s issues,” which usually involve energy independence. “We’re going to fight for these issues on a different plane and we’re not going to let you guys win. You’re not going to let…”
WALLACE: But they’re going to think…
PALIN: “You’re not going to…”
WALLACE: … they won because you’re no longer governor. Let me just make…
PALIN: I don’t think that they…
WALLACE: Let me just make this…
PALIN: I don’t think that they think I’m — look it, I’m sitting here talking to Chris Wallace today. I think some of them are going, “Dang, we thought she’d sit down and shut up after we tried to do to her what we tried.”
WALLACE: Well, I don’t know that that’s going to be considered…
PALIN: And now we get to talk about energy independence. Now we get to talk about those things that are important…
WALLACE: OK, but wait a minute.
PALIN: … to Alaskans and our country.
WALLACE: When — before we were talking about Ronald Reagan, who you openly admit was your political inspiration…
WALLACE: … and really a formative figure in your developing a political consciousness.
Reagan during his entire second term as governor of California was a lame duck. Reagan in that second term was being sharply attacked by antiwar radicals. I can tell you, Ronald Reagan would never have quit.
PALIN: It’s a big difference between just getting political potshots fired your way. I can handle those. I get those — shoot, I got more of those this morning. So what? That doesn’t matter.
But when it adversely affected the people that I was serving, that’s bull, and I wasn’t going to put up with that — again, millions of dollars, a paralyzed administration, my staff not knowing what they could do or say, because the adversaries were continuing to destruct. No way.
I love Alaska too much to put them through that. So in that last — in that lame duck session, I’m like, “No, I’m going to hand the reins over to the lieutenant governor. He’s as conservative as I am. He can progress our agenda, a commonsense conservative agenda for our state, and we can all get on with life.” . . .
WALLACE: Aren’t you the frontrunner for the nomination?
PALIN: No. Don’t know who conducted that poll. And I know that polls are fickle. And heck, after this interview, Chris, we may see a plummeting in the poll numbers. Who knows? These are fickle. I can’t comment on what the poll numbers mean today.
WALLACE: why wouldn’t you run for president?
PALIN: I would. I would if I believed that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family. Certainly, I would do so.
WALLACE: And how do you make that decision over the next three years?
PALIN: It’s going to be, thankfully, a lot of time to be able to make such a decision. Right now I’m looking at, as I say, other potential candidates out there who are strong. They’re in a position of having kind of this luxury of having more information at their fingertips right now, so that the current events that we’re talking about today they… WALLACE: But wait, wait, wait, because you — you’re basically saying you will consider it.
PALIN: I think that it would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country. I don’t know if it’s going to be ever seeking a title, though. It may be just doing a darn good job…
WALLACE: But — but…
PALIN: … as a reporter or covering some of the current events.
WALLACE: But you’re going to consider — you’re going to go through the process of thinking about…
PALIN: I won’t close the door that perhaps could be open for me in the future. I don’t want any American to ever close the door in their personal or their professional lives and put themselves in a box and say, “Heck, yeah, I’m going to do that,” or, “No way, I’m not going to do that,” when we don’t know what the future holds.
WALLACE: There’s a report this weekend that you are now getting daily e-mail briefings on domestic and foreign policy issues from a group of top advisers in Washington, D.C. How come?
PALIN: Ever since our PAC was formed, we have had good people contributing, some — many volunteers — I guess you would call them advisers, yes — firing away e-mails to me every morning saying this is what’s happened in Washington overnight, you need to be aware of this. Good. It’s great. It’s helpful.
WALLACE: Do you — I mean, isn’t that the move of somebody who is thinking about running for president?
PALIN: You mean conventionally how someone would — I have no idea how conventionally people do this, how they — how they try to open a door that perhaps isn’t even open, and if that involves having a group of advisers send them e-mails every morning — I don’t know how it works. I don’t know. I’m just appreciative of having some good information at my fingertips right now.
WALLACE: Would you say you’re more knowledgeable about domestic and foreign affairs now than you were two years ago?
PALIN: Well, I would hope so. Yes, I am. Two years ago my engagement was on the State of Alaska — largest, most diverse state in the union, 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy coming from our state, while desiring to and working towards ramping up that domestic energy production. That was my focus.
Now, of course, my focus is — has been enlarged. So I sure as heck better be more astute on these current events, national issues, than I was two years ago.