The Plank

A Semi-defense Of Sarah Palin

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Okay, maybe not even that. Let's call it a charitable interpretation of Sarah Palin. Matthew Yglesias is puzzled by her statement (in the interview Chris highlights below):

“It’s very important when you consider even national security issues
with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the
United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska.”

Yglesias wonders whether 

Palin may have gotten a briefing that told her that Alaska is in the
flight-path for some Russian nuclear missiles that go over the arctic
en route to destinations in the United States. That, I believe, is true though it’s certainly not what she said.
It’s possible that all this cramming is causing Palin to become less
coherent instead of just parrying questions she knows she doesn’t
have good answers to, she’s trying to remember canned lines but it’s
too much all at once to actually get right.

But I think what she's actually talking about is the stuff that's described in this Anchorage Daily News article from March:

Russia's resurgent military is again making
sporadic, unannounced bomber runs toward Alaska's airspace, leading the
Air Force to scramble jets to intercept and identify them, according to
the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Howie Chandler.

The most recent incident, involving two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers,
occurred Tuesday, Chandler said during a meeting with reporters at
Elmendorf Air Force Base on Thursday. Since July, there have been 16
such incidents, according to the Air Force.

Granted, it doesn't appear that these Russian bombers actually came "into the airspace of the United States of America," as Palin put it in her interview; they just headed towards it. And I seriously doubt that Palin, even though she is commander of the Alaska National Guard, was the one who ordered that the jets be scrambled from Elmendorf. (So far as I can tell, the Alaska Air National Guard doesn't even have any fighter jets.) But she's not talking complete jibberish gibberish here. Which is a bit of an improvement in her case.

--Jason Zengerle

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