FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

10 Questions Jim Lehrer Should Have Asked

by DAVID MACARAY

At this stage of the campaign, don’t we pretty much know everything we’re ever going to know about the candidates?  We’ve seen President Obama do his thing for almost four years, and Mitt Romney has carefully crafted a political and personal image most apt to attract voters (or least apt to repel voters).  Because both candidates are acutely aware of the dangers of being too candid, neither has revealed more of himself than is necessary.

Jim Lehrer, moderator of last Wednesday’s presidential debate, missed a golden opportunity.  He could have asked these men any idiosyncratic questions he wished—questions that not only would have elicited revealing answers, but couldn’t have been censored and couldn’t have been rehearsed in advance.  Indeed, in that unique setting (live TV, with 67 million people watching), Lehrer was the only man on earth with the power to pull this off.

True, had he done it, his career in broadcasting would have ended, and he likely would’ve been sued by the RNC.  But on the positive side he would have gone down in history as the rogue journalist who, in front of a national television audience, asked the candidates questions that were halfway interesting.

Here are 10 questions Jim Lehrer could have asked:

1. What was the most difficult class you took in college?  Good question.  Gives them a chance to come off as pleasantly humble.  If they say Organic Chemistry, we know they’re not lying.  If they can’t recall even one class that gave them trouble, it’s not going to ruin them, but they’ll come off as inattentive or evasive.

2. What trait or talent does your opponent possess that you most admire or wish you possessed?  Wouldn’t we all like to know this?  Mitt might say he wished he could debate or play basketball as well as the President, and Obama might say he envied Mitt because, as a Mormon, he gets to wear magic underwear.

3. With the exception of your wife or mother, what woman has had the most profound effect on your life?  Tough question, especially being sprung without warning.  That’s why it would be fascinating to hear their answers.

4. Who are your favorite writers?  They better have some, otherwise they’re going to sound uninformed, uninquisitive and uncultured….positively Palinesque.

5. Who are your favorite singers or musical groups?  We’d all like to know this.  Wouldn’t it be shocking if Obama said he liked the Carpenters and Eagles, and Romney admitted to being a fan of Lil’ Kim?

6. Do you believe that, even with its atrocious human rights record, we should continue to give financial aid to Ruwati?  A trick question meant to test their honesty.  There is no such country as Ruwati.  Would these guys admit to having never heard of the place, or would they try to bullshit us?

7. (to Obama)  Not counting Abraham Lincoln, who is your favorite Republican president?  It’s Obama’s opportunity to answer with Dwight Eisenhower.

8. (to Romney)  Not counting Harry Truman, who is your favorite Democratic president?  This one could really hurt Mitt because he’s never followed politics, and doesn’t know who’s who.  Moreover, shifting gears like this is alien to him.  He must be careful not mention Ben Franklin or Alexander Hamilton, who were neither Democrats nor presidents.

9. What’s the last thing you did that you’re ashamed of?  Granted, this bombshell could bring the whole shebang to a screeching halt, but it would be interesting to see them struggle with it.

10. What part of the Bible seems the most far-fetched?  If Obama answers “None,” he’s clearly lying.  If he says it’s Adam and Eve or Noah’s Ark, he risks alienating those Christians who don’t already think he’s a Muslim.  As for Mitt, he’d be forced to admit that the Book of Mormon takes precedence over the Bible, finally bringing the topic of religion into the open.  Not good.

These questions would not only be a mild exercise in psychodrama, they would force Obama and Romney to provide the American public with some genuine insight.  If the point of the debates is to offer a close-up glimpse of the candidates, then why not do it right?  Why not ask questions the public really wants to hear?

Are we more interested in the candidates giving their well-rehearsed, well-oiled views on Dodd-Frank, Simpson-Bowles, and deficit reduction, or would we rather hear them respond spontaneously to the oddball questions above?

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former labor union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail