Let's define fair and unfair questions for Palin

For example, I would like Gwen Ifill to ask Palin to elaborate on her “I can see Rooshia from my bathroom window” position, not just give her a second crack at it by phrasing a neutral softball like “Could you tell us what you think the US should do, if anything, about Russia’s issues with Georgia?” that she’s being force-fed answers to right now. IOW, I want her to have to say that she didn’t answer that question very well the first time she got it, or that she did and justify it. I’m afraid that fairness and deference and bending over backwards will get Palin out of some tight spots she worked herself into, and I don’t think she (or any politician) gets to stick both feet in her mouth and then get a pass on her stupidity.

But I’m sure Pubbies would view my attitude as partisan, and would complain that bringing up her clumsy statements (or vapid statements) would be playing “Gotcha.” Am I correct in this? Is it wrong to couch debate questions as “Please explain your previous statement on…” for all politicians? Is there any “Please explain your previous statement on…” that’s appropriate to put to Palin on Thursday? Any that are not appropriate?

I’d like to see them ask her to please explain her position on (take a deep breath, Gwen) why it’s ethical to refuse to comply with a legally issued subpoena from a bi-partisan body just like Karl Rove did, including (i) why she originally said she’d cooperate fully in the investigation, (ii) then allowing her McCain handlers and attorneys to push for moving the investigation to a body she had firing powers over, citing “proper authority,” (iii) and then complaining it was an Obama/Democratic conspiracy against her even though the investigation began before she ever hit the national spotlight.

And, no, “I’ll look for some answers and bring 'em to ya.” won’t cut it.

Ok, I would guess that the following would be considered unfair, by any standards, but I’d still like to ask her:

Ms Palin, were you always this strident and obnoxious, coupled with undertones of naughty librarian?
Just how politically ambitious are you and have you ever considered actually learning about the position you seek?
Hair up, hair down–which is it?

And of course, favorite brand and color of lipstick…
Ok, Ok, I’m done. Here are some serious questions I would like to see her address.

Faith is a large part of your impetus for public office, and of course your personal life. America is becoming a more religiously diverse nation. How do you see the interconnection between church and state in this century, specifically in terms of education for children and in terms of the recent politicalization of churchs and other religious centers?

Follow up (depending on her answer): your pastor (former? not sure) has mentioned witchcraft. What are your views on witchcraft and the modern Wicca movement?

The latest news out of Wall St seems to spell trouble for middle class families all across America. What words of leadership can you give to the American people as we face these uncertain economic times?

That’s all I got. I can’t think like a journalist this late at night.

IMHO, a fair question to her and all candidates running for elected office is;

Is it appropriate for a candidate to run for office while refusing to cooperate with a duly instituted bipartisan legislative ethics probe?

Much as I’d love for her to ask this, this is more of an interview question rather than a debate one. Something about executive privilege (asked to her first) might be close. I think a question asking them to illustrate their foreign policy experience might be good also, but would probably be considered unfair.

Any good debate question should allow for meaningful answers from both candidates.

If your opponent gets elected, show me your

Ripple of Evil

Voyager, you’re right that my question would be a better interview than debate question, but I do think something along the line’s of Clue-Me-In’s question, with only allusions to Bush adminstration officials and aides who have ignored subpoenas might be illustrative of intended leadership style and adherence to the value placed on checks and balances – oops, again somewhat particular and partisan.

No wonder they picked Ms. Ifill to moderate and not me.:stuck_out_tongue:

How about this:

This gets right to the heart of things without being accusatory. Biden could answer with a detailed analysis of Constitutional Law, past precedents, and nuances.

Palin would talk about executive privilege at best, and Roe v. Wade and ignoring subpoenas at worst.

She can see me do what now? o_O

I’d like Gwen to ask her to name one specific policy of the Bush Administration that she doesn’t agree with.

And Gwen can then ask Biden to name a policy that he agrees with.

Doing what you suggest would be appropriate for a lawyer grilling a witness on cross examination. It would not be appropriate at most forms of debate, as it turns the questioner into a partisan. For a format similar to the recent McCain/Obama contest, the fair thing to do is throw out a question within the agreed scope of subject matter, and allow both candidates to respond to the question, and perhaps a bit of rebuttal to the opposing candidate’s position.

What would be the female version of “Boxers or briefs?”

Thong or commando?

Nothing to contribute except a hearty “Welcome back!” to Oakminster.

Bikini or thong?

How 'bout “shaved, trimmed, or au naturale?” For both Palin and Biden. :eek:

If your daughter was raped, would you be comfortable knowing you had appointed judges who have banned abortion in all instances?

OK, now we’re getting somewhere.

What degree of specific reference to a candidate’s previous statements or positions would be fair and unfair? If it’s not asking too much, I think the best example would be one unfairly specific question for Palin and an unfairly specific question for Biden. (Examples of fair but specific questions for each would be appreciated, but I’d really like to know what you would consider unfair questions for each most of all.) Thanks for taking the trouble.

Afraid I can’t give you what you want. My position is that a debate is not cross examination, and it is not the role of the moderator to attack previous statements by either candidate. There’s plenty of talking heads on the post game show for that kind of thing.

On the other hand, if the campaigns agreed to a “cross examination” style “debate” I think some very entertaining TV could result. Maybe let each side pick a “lawyer” to examine the other candidate. Don’t really see that ever happening. Even a simple country lawyer like me could rip either candidate to shreds in that format. They know it, and they’ll never agree to it.

Edit to add: Thanks for the welcome, kaylasdad99

Can you tell I never took debate in HS?

I have no idea. Come to think of it, I can’t recall one question Lehrer asked in the last debate. :eek:

The Colbert Report writes questions for the debates.