SO MUCH FOR WATER’S EDGE…. There’s no formal rule or law, but there’s been a long-accepted political norm: when prominent Americans travel to foreign soil, they should show restraint about criticizing America’s elected leaders. This standard about “politics stopping at the water’s edge” was especially pronounced during the Bush/Cheney era — it was considered outrageous if someone undermined confidence in the administration while abroad.
Those norms obviously don’t exist anymore.
Moments after saying she wouldn’t criticize Barack Obama abroad, Sarah Palin in India on Saturday said that if she were president there would have been “less dithering, more decisiveness” on Libya.
Pressed in a much tougher question-and-answer session than Palin has recently allowed herself to be subjected to during appearances in the U.S, the former Alaska governor told conference attendees at the India Today Conclave in New Delhi that Obama had not shown enough conviction in executing a strategy in Libya.
It was an odd display, even for the former half-term governor. She kept saying she “won’t criticize,” right before launching into more criticism.
I’m reminded of an item Glenn Greenwald published a while back.
Here’s what happened in 2006 when Al Gore gave a speech at a conference in Saudi Arabia in which he criticized Bush policies towards the Muslim world — as summarized by The New York Times‘ Chris Sullentrop:
“As House Democrats David Bonior and Jim McDermott may recall from their trip to Baghdad on the eve of the Iraq war, nothing sets conservative opinionmongers on edge like a speech made by a Democrat on foreign soil. Al Gore traveled to Saudi Arabia last week, and in a speech there on Sunday he criticized ‘abuses’ committed by the U.S. government against Arabs after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A burst of flabbergasted conservative blogging followed the Associated Press dispatch about the speech… The editorial page of Investor’s Business Daily accused Gore of ‘supreme disloyalty to his country’. . . .”
The Wall St. Journal‘s James Taranto accused Gore of “denouncing his own government on foreign soil” and quoted the above accusation of “disloyalty.” Commentary was abundant all but accusing Gore of treason for criticizing the U.S. in a foreign land.
I imagine the reaction to Palin’s remarks won’t be quite as intense. Call it a hunch.
As for the rest of her appearance, Palin reportedly “struggled to provide pointed answers” to detailed questions related to foreign affairs, and when asked why the 2008 GOP presidential ticket, of which she was obviously a part, came up short on Election Day, she replied, “I wasn’t at the top of the ticket, remember?”