The Note: The Palin Comparisons

So Gov. Sarah Palin is a God-invoking, line-memorizing, superpower-provoking, nuke-u-lar pronouncing, dangerously unprepared Bush-Cheney clone (if she even knew what the Bush Doctrine was) . . .

Or she is a Lincoln-quoting, homework-doing, Russian-scaring, regular-acting, ready-to-lead energy expert of a hockey mom (and who cares who knows what the Bush Doctrine is, anyway?).

The Palin who sat down with ABC's Charles Gibson Thursday (with more to come Friday, on "World News" and "20/20") was -- in keeping with the phenomenon that has flashed across the political landscape these past two weeks -- pretty much whatever you wanted her to be.

(Similarly, Sen. Barack Obama's planned pushback -- not the first or second or third time his campaign has signaled a new aggressiveness -- is pretty much whatever you want it to be, too.)

(And the 9/11 pause didn't spread into 9/12: New ads, with a new tone -- Obama goes both positive and negative -- with the sharper one featuring Obama saying McCain has become an out-of-touch Washington insider. John McCain pushes back hard, saying Obama folks have been "disrespectful" to Palin, even as the media declares en masse that Team McCain is not playing fair.)

On the key question, Palin, R-Alaska, didn't hesitate: "I'm ready," she said. "I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink."

Yet the first day of this next stage of Palin's public definition again showed how much we still don't know about the would-be No. 2 (and, perhaps, what the would-be No. 2 still doesn't know about the job) -- and how much is at stake in this phase of her public rollout.

On the question of the Bush Doctrine, no real answer: "She stopped short of saying whether she supports 'anticipatory self-defense,' leaving open the question of whether she subscribes to the Bush Doctrine," per ABC's Teddy Davis and Rigel Anderson. "Asked if Palin's bar for the use of force is higher than the one contained in the Bush Doctrine, the McCain-Palin campaign said that it was a highly conceptual question that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., himself may have never answered."

On Pakistan, maybe a shade toward Barack Obama. "Gibson also pressed Palin three times to give a yes or no answer to the question of whether she believed that the United States has the right to launch crossborder attacks on Taliban and Al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, a close ally of the United States, without the Pakistani government's permission," Michael Kranish and Farah Stockman write in The Boston Globe. "Earlier in the campaign McCain had ridiculed rival Barack Obama for saying that he would authorize such unilateral crossborder actions, emphasizing that cooperation with Pakistan is essential."

On the Russian-Georgian conflict, she went maybe a smidge further than McCain. (And she knows NATO's Article 5.) "If John McCain were asked, 'would we act to defend another NATO member that was invaded?' the answer would be yes," she said.

She said she would "agree to disagree" with John McCain (while trying to change his mind) on drilling in ANWR, but left herself more open to the possibility that global warming is man-made.

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