PALIN’S CONSTRUCTION BONDS…. The good news is, Sarah Palin felt confident enough yesterday to actually answer a question during a public appearance. The bad news, she answered a question during a public appearance.

During a quick stop at a diner in Cleveland, Ohio, Sarah Palin was asked for her reaction to the AIG bailout.

“Disappointed that taxpayers are called upon to bailout another one,” she said. “Certainly AIG though with the construction bonds that they’re holding and with the insurance that they are holding very, very impactful to Americans so you know the shot that has been called by the Feds it’s understandable but very, very disappointing that taxpayers are called upon for another one.” […]

Though she has been on the campaign trail for nearly three weeks, Palin has yet to hold a press conference, and this morning’s stop marked the first time she answered a question from the press on the fly, prompting concerned looks from staffers.

And why were staffers overcome with “concerned looks”? It might have something to do with Palin’s belief that AIG holds “impactful” “construction bonds.”

I’m afraid this doesn’t make sense. As Kevin put it, “Construction bonds? What is she talking about? Maybe performance bonds? Not that that makes any more sense. What’s more, I’m pretty sure that AIG’s consumer and commercial insurance business wasn’t in any danger. So why focus on that? I mean, if you’re only going to give the press a single sentence, why not spit out something about counterparty risk and leave their jaws hanging?”

Hubris in an unprepared candidate is not a positive trait.

Putting this in the broader context, in just the last two weeks, we’ve seen Sarah Palin get confused about foreign policy, housing policy, entitlements, and now, economic policy. Dan Drezner, a conservative who doesn’t understand Palin’s appeal, added, “Her best skill displayed to date was delivering a speech off a teleprompter (not insignificant in politics, mind you) and she’s apparently exaggerating that skill as well.”

It occurs to me that first-time candidates for national office often struggle to get over the learning curve. Governors and senators will visit a coffee shop in Iowa City eight months before the caucuses, get confused about a policy detail, but improve as the campaign rolls on. They take their time, go through extensive briefings, and learn to get good. By the time the conventions are done, these candidates are supposed to be on the top of their game.

In this sense, Palin is in a situation where failure is almost impossible to avoid. She’s never expressed any knowledge of national or international issues, she’s never expressed any interest in national or international issues, and she’s making humiliating mistakes under the glare of the national spotlight, with less than two months until Election Day.

With some time in government, Palin might become a less embarrassing candidate. But at this point, it’s almost unfair for McCain to set her up for this kind of fiasco.

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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.