CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Mind-Reads Palin, Rips Her Qualifications

Fareed Zakaria, CNN World Affairs Analyst | NewsBusters.orgCNN world affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria, in a column published in the October 6 issue of Newsweek, condescended towards Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, labeled her "utterly unqualified to be vice president," and complimented Katie Couric for her "smart question" to the Alaska governor in a recent interview. He later asserted clairvoyantly that "she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start."

As a result of this slam, CNN host Wolf Blitzer interviewed Zakaria on Monday’s The Situation Room, in which the analyst referenced Tina Fey’s nearly word-for-word quotation of Palin from the Couric interview on last Saturday’s SNL program, which was played earlier in the program: "The scary answer was on the economy -- the one you displayed switching back and forth between Saturday Night Live, because it was absolutely clear, that she simply did not understand any of the issues involved. She did not understand the question."

Zakaria, a naturalized American citizen who declared in May 2008 that "era of... ‘American exceptionalism’ is over," began his column in a snotty fashion. His title: "Palin is Ready? Please." His lead sentences stayed in this vein: "Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, ‘to spend more time with her family?’" He then brought up the interview with Couric, whom he characterized as having a "trademark sympathetic style." He must be only catching Couric’s interviews with liberals like Obama and Al Gore, since that’s usually when she’s "sympathetic."

After excerpting the "money" excerpt from the Couric interview about the economy, Zakaria brought up Campbell Brown’s "sexism" charge against the McCain campaign for keeping Palin "under wraps." He "corrects" this assertion with his version of "common sense:" "Some commentators, like CNN's Campbell Brown, have argued that it's sexist to keep Sarah Palin under wraps, as if she were a delicate flower who might wilt under the bright lights of the modern media. But the more Palin talks, the more we see that it may not be sexism but common sense that's causing the McCain campaign to treat her like a time bomb."

Zakaria then continued by stating his final conclusion about McCain’s running mate, including a backhanded compliment of the Alaska governor: "Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start."

He ended his column by more or less questioning John McCain’s patriotism: "In these times, for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true."

Zakaria continued his Palin bashing during the Blitzer interview:

WOLF BLITZER: ...Fareed, you wrote a provocative column. I woke up this morning and read it in The Washington Post. Among other things, you said this, you said, 'Senator McCain says he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true.' And basically, you say it's time for Sarah Palin to drop out for the good of the country. Explain what you have in mind.

FAREED ZAKARIA: Well Wolf, I'm really not looking at this as a game. I'm looking at this as a serious matter of governance. I think you've just been watching -- you've been anchoring very well exactly what is going on here. The American financial system is in the greatest crisis it's been in since the 1930s. The economy is probably more stressed than at any point from various different areas, and this is complicated stuff. I think that there is a fundamental test of governance that is going to have to be applied, and is going to have to be applied to the House, and to the House Republicans in particular. But look, it applies all the more seriously to the people we are considering having as president and vice president. They have to be able to govern. You know, we can talk about the games and the gaffes, but what has become absolutely clear watching Sarah Palin, in her responses to interviews -- and the Katie Couric interview was the last straw -- frankly, there were others. Is that it's not that she when asked these complicated questions or difficult questions. It's not that she doesn't know the right answer. It's that she clearly does not understand the question. This is way beyond anything we have ever seen from a national candidate.

BLITZER: Well, what about the argument that Senator McCain makes -- she's got a proven track record. She's very popular in Alaska as governor, has the highest job approval rating of any sitting governor right now -- 80 percent like what she's doing in Alaska, and she brings this executive experience with her that neither Joe Biden nor Barack Obama has.

ZAKARIA: Well, you know, if you delve into that, you discover that the executive experience is running a very small town. Alaska itself is an unusual state. 85 percent of its budget is -- comes from oil revenues. Basically, you're just distributing oil revenues that are being provided for you by digging holes in the ground. This is good training to be president of Saudi Arabia, not the United States. Look, what is absolutely clear is we are dealing with very, very difficult issues. The financial crisis is probably the most complicated financial crisis we have experienced yet, and it was absolutely clear -- the most scary answer in the Katie Couric interview was not on foreign policy. The foreign policy stuff was funny. The scary answer was on the economy -- the one you displayed switching back and forth between Saturday Night Live, because it was absolutely clear, that she simply did not understand any of the issues involved. She did not understand the question. This is a woman who is going to be, as the phrase goes, a heartbeat away from a 72-year-old man if McCain wins. The actuarial odds of her becoming president are very high. They are actually significant. It's sort of about a one in five chance.

Fareed seems to think that if you never had a column published in Newsweek or Foreign Affairs, you’re not qualified to be president or vice-president, let alone talk about foreign policy. He’s beginning to sound like Kathleen Parker or Rod Dreher -- or is it vice-versa?

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center