HOWARD MEGDAL: While Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric may live on in the national consciousness for longer, due to it being a national campaign combined with an SNL immortalizing, I believe Jan Brewer’s freeze-up last week in the Arizona gubernatorial debate is a far worse overall gaffe. In Palin’s case, she has managed to forge a political identity out of what she doesn’t know, while casting the media as her constant tormentor. Brewer, by contrast, had no question or questioner she could blame. This was her opening statement. Far from being caught off-guard, she knew ahead of time she’d be able to give one, and should have been prepared. To me, Brewer’s moment is a far more exaggerated version of Ted Kennedy’s inability to answer Roger Mudd’s question, “Why do you want to be President?” when Kennedy ran for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination. In a swing state like Arizona, it will be interesting to see if Brewer’s lack of basic rationale for her election ends up making a difference.
ALLISON REILLY: Brewer explained her mishap the following day telling the FOX affiliate in Phoenix: I’m human, and I just blanked out. Brewer went silent for nine seconds as she searched for words, but, did manage to wrap up her opening statement quite nicely without letting her mistake bring her down. Palin, however, did not demonstrate such recovery in her eight minute interview with Katie Couric.
Palin also had a few seconds of silence when Couric pushed the question about Freddie Mac’s contribution to the McCain/Palin campaign. Not only did Palin not give the best follow up answer, she never gave a good answer to any question during the entire interview. Palin has redeemed herself, but only in the eyes of her believers. Though the impact of Brewer’s gaffe on the trajectory of her political career has yet to be seen, Palin’s interview, as a whole, was god awful. At least Brewer had one or two strong moments.