A NOVEL DEFENSE FOR IGNORANCE…. It was a classic deer-in-the-headlights moment. Charlie Gibson asked Sarah Palin if she agrees with the Bush Doctrine. “In what respect, Charlie?” she responded. Asked what she interpreted the Bush Doctrine to be, Palin said, “His worldview?”

Now, apparently, there’s a new defense for Palin — her response is understandable because there’s more than one Bush Doctrine.

Peter D. Feaver, who worked on the Bush national security strategy as a staff member on the National Security Council, said he has counted as many as seven distinct Bush doctrines. They include the president’s second-term “freedom agenda”; the notion that states that harbor terrorists should be treated no differently than terrorists themselves; the willingness to use a “coalition of the willing” if the United Nations does not address threats; and the one Gibson was talking about — the doctrine of preemptive war.

“If you were given a quiz, you might guess that one, because it’s one that many people associate with the Bush doctrine,” said Feaver, now a Duke University professor. “But in fact it’s not the only one.”

Let’s not play games. Yes, there have been a variety of foreign policy maxims dubbed the “Bush Doctrine” over the years. If Sarah Palin heard the question and said, “Which one?” I would have gladly accepted that as a perfectly legitimate response. Indeed, if she’d answered the question under the assumption Gibson was asking about a different doctrine, that would have been fine, too. Hell, if Palin could have explained the differences between some of the various concepts that have been given the label, she would have shut up her detractors for a very long while.

But none of that happened. You can watch the video. She said she perceived the Bush Doctrine as the president’s “worldview,” which really doesn’t make any sense at all.

Post-hoc rationalizations for Palin’s embarrassing ignorance don’t do her any favors.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.