Hilzoy’s on the beat, but let’s look more closely at Palin’s discussion of the rulings in the great history of America. I need you to help me translate this:
COURIC (to Palin): Do you think there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?
PALIN: I do. Yeah, I do.
COURIC: the cornerstone of Roe v Wade
PALIN: I do. And I believe that -- individual states can handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in in an issue like that.
Ok, I can think of two translations. Help me decide.
Translation #1 — Palin wants to play it safe by acknowledging a right to privacy. But, she’s simultaneously arguing that states should retain significant leeway to act. In other words, the right to privacy should be narrowly construed to protect state rights.
Translation #2 — Palin hasn’t the foggiest clue what a right to privacy is. She initially thinks that the right to privacy actually undercuts Roe — you know, like privacy protects us FROM abortion rights. Then, after Couric corrects her, she further illustrates her ignorance by saying that states get to determine how the right of privacy gets implemented.
The whole of point of the right of privacy, though, is that it restricts state action (and government action more generally). As Hilzoy notes, she doesn’t quite grasp that it’s a federal issue.
As for me, I vote #2. It's hard to say, but she seems to imply that the right to privacy furthers state autonomy. It's also pure gibberish, so that cuts against #1. The gibberish is most common when she has no clue or when she thinks she's just messed up. For that reason, I doubt there was any political sophistication lurking beneath.
In any event, the contrast with Biden could not be more striking.