Tough questions Russert didn't ask

Check out:

It’s long, but a good read on Bush’s questionable military record, entitled:

How Russert Gave Bush A Pass On The AWOL Question.

You’ll also find 9 questions Russert didn’t ask. For example:

“Mr. President, would you briefly tell us where relevant commanding officers and their superiors are today?”

Turns out, the guy who headed the Texas Nat’l Guard when Bush’s records seemed to have been laundered was Major General Daniel James. This same guy was appointed by George W. Bush to commander of the air national guard and confirmed by the Senate last week.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.


The article cited above also tells how one can screw up mightily in the guard, and still get an Honorable Discharge.

All it takes is a little political pull. It helps if your daddy is a US Congressman


Aside from the Nationald Guard stuff, Russert let Bush get away with characterizing the war in Iraq as part of the War on Terror[sup]TM[/sup].

I would have liked to see Russert ask Bush:

Mr. President, how exactly is the war in Iraq part of the War on Terror?

Is it true that the prospect of a war on Iraq was discussed in cabinet meetings months before 9/11?

Here’s another:

Mr. President, you have fought for elimination of the estate tax. As between a citizen who works to earn his money, and a citizen who inherits money without working for it, why should only the citizen who worked for the money pay taxes on it? Is that fair?

Except spoke-, that answer would be an easy one: “But taxes on that have already been paid.” I’m sure he would relish an opportunity to discuss the unfairness of the estate tax, in lieu of talking about how Iraq was a threat to our peace.

Well, no they haven’t. What we ordinarily tax is the trasnfer of wealth. And the tranfer from a parent (who may have earned the wealth) to an inheritor (who didn’t) should be taxed the same as any other transfer.

To expound with examples:

Lets say Joe Millionaire earns $5 million. He paid income taxes on it.

Now he hires Bob Contractor to build a $5 million house. Bob Contractor has to pay income tax when that $5 million gets tranferred to him.

Double taxation! The same $5 million is getting taxed again!!! Well, no. What’s being taxed is the transfer of wealth.

Now let’s say that instead of building a house and paying Bob Contractor, Joe Millionaire hangs onto the money and it is inherited by his son, Shiftless Millionaire. Shiftless has never worked a day in his life. In no sense has he earned the $5 million.

In those two scenarios, why should Bob Contractor, who worked for his $5 million, and contributed to the economic output of the country, have to pay taxes, while Shiftless Millionaire, who has contributed nothing to the economy, and did nothing to earn his $5 million, doesn’t pay taxes?

But of course, it takes more than a sound bite to explain that, so maybe a russert question on the subject would have been useless.

On October 7 2002, did you know Iraq had WMD?

As if it would have mattered if he had? You know how Bush answered everything else; he’d have answered those questions in the same way.

**“As a staunch supporter of the military and as a Commander in Chief who has sent over 500 soldiers to their deaths, how can you in good conscience cut VA spending in your proposed budget?”

“Part of your 2000 platform was the ‘leave no child behind’ concept. In light of your recent proposed budget cuts to education, should this now read ‘leave no child’s behind untouched’?”**

i kind of wished they would’ve mentioned something about “activist judges”, or what was so important about steroid use in professional sports that warranted discussion in the state of the union address.

it would’ve been interesting to see gwb’s response, and the vitriole with which he delivered it, to a question concerning gay marriage. perhaps he could’ve attempted to explain why gays are and deserve to be second-class citizens.

i thought timmy (a fellow buffalonian, btw) did a pretty good job with the questions though. he could’ve followed them through a bit more when they weren’t answered, though.

"Mr. President, during your campaign for president in 2000, you stated that you were ‘a uniter, not a divider’. Could you name an example since you took office where you united two parties that were previously divided?"

"Mr. President, it appears that the state of Massachusetts will begin marrying gay couples in about 3 months. In your opinion, does this constitute a threat to the institution of marriage, and if so, will you and Mrs. Bush be separating or getting a divorce as a result? If not, in what way is your marriage weakened by allowing gays to marry??

This is a wee bit off topic, but…

I really get cheesed when folks act like journalists are supposed to enter into some kind of debate with those they interview. The last thing I want to see is a newsmaker and a journalist arguing. Let the policymakers speak, and let the people judge.

On the other hand, I think Russert’s questions were fair - not softballs, and certainly not the harsh treatment given to Dean some time ago. Bush made himself look bad without many tough questions being asked of him.

Back on-topic, I would have liked to hear, “What do you think Al Gore thinks every morning when he looks in the mirror, and is reminded that he lost to you, Mr. President?”

spoke-, you misunderstand our income tax system. You said “What we ordinarily tax is the trasnfer of wealth.” But what we acutally tax is the earning of the money. In your example, Bob Contractor doesn’t pay taxes on the $5M, because he had expenses. If his expenses were $4.9M, then he pays taxes only on $100K, even though $5M transferred to Bob. Then Bob transfers that $4.9M to his subs and suppliers, but they too only pay taxes on a portion, because they had expenses. In the end, many millions of dollars will have been transferred, but only $5M will have ultimately been earned by someone, so taxes will be $5M times the average tax rate.

My example was simplified for effect. Of course there would be deductions. But note that the money (or at least a portion of it) gets taxed every time it changes hands. The same money gets taxed again and again.

And the central point is the same: Joe Contractor is paying taxes on money that he worked for. He is contributing to the economy.

Meanwhile, Shiftless Millionaire sits on his ass and gets $5 million tax-fee, while contributing nothing.

Why shouldn’t Shiftless Millionaire be taxed for this “income?” Isn’t it unfair that the guy who works for his money gets taxed, but the guy who simply inherits it doesn’t? In fact, shouldn’t Shiftless Millionaire be taxed at a higher rate? Why punish the working man?

Mr. President, back in August of 2000, Dick Cheney said “A commander-in-chief leads the military built by those who came before him. There is little that he or his defense secretary can do to improve the force they have to deploy. It is all the work of previous administrations. Decisions made today shape the force of tomorrow…when that [first Persian Gulf] war ended, the first thing I did was to place a call to California, and say thank you President Ronald Reagan…” Have you called President Clinton to thank him for the great job his military did in Iraq? What measures are you taking today to ensure that the next administration has as strong a military as you have at your disposal?*

*Richard Cheney, Address to the Southern Center for International Studies, 8/30/00, Atlanta GA

Disagree. I want journalists to get at the truth, whatever it takes. Having a guy lob easy questions just so the interviewee can spread more manure doesn’t do anything for promoting the truth, it just allows the waters to get muddled further. If the interviewee is spreading obvious bullstuff, IMO it’s the job of the journalist to dig deeper, to show that this is bullstuff and it will not be tolerated.

Give the ghost of Edward R. Murrow ten minutes with George W. Bush, that’s all I ask…

I think the natural correlary of that view is that if a journalist thinks someone is telling the truth, there’s a diminished expectation that the journalist will challenge what is being said. I, for one, don’t want journalists to point me, as a reader, toward the truth as they see it. That’s why Fox News, World Net Daily, and their counterparts on the left are such crappy sources of news.

Good interviewers should question everyone with tough, fair questions that challenge every bit of dogma that comes out of someone’s mouth, not take sides on what is true and false. Pundits, analysts, and investigative journalists can dig deeper and expose more facts, but I can make up my mind for myself, if newsmakers are given an opportunity to speak their own mind.


That’s not true. What we tax is the creation of wealth. To revisit your example:

Lets say Joe Millionaire earns $5 million. He paid income taxes on it.

Now he hires Bob Contractor to build a $5 million house. Now there is $10 million in value present - $5 million in cash, and $5 million in the form of a house. That house was not yet taxed.

When Bob Contractor exchanges the house for the $5 million cash, it is on the house that he is being taxed.

I disagree. Bob isn’t taxed on the house, he’s taxed on the profit he made constructing and selling the house. We’re well off the OP, but the example uses the false assumption that Bob Contractor created the $5M house out of nothing or out of his own money, which anybody who’s ever dealt with a contractor knows is rubbish. Immediately before title to the house transfers, it is not as if Joe has $5M in his account left and is awaiting delivery of a $5M house.

Joe Millionaire paid Bob Contractor $5M, of which Bob used $4.9M on materials, laborers and bribes to the city inspector to overlook the fact that Bob really skimped on the materials. Bob will have to pay income tax on his profit of $100,000, which he earned, but of the remaining $4.9M, the amount Bob spent on labor was taxable income to the laborers, and of the amount spent on materials was taxable to the materials’ store, net of its own costs of purchases. What is taxed as income tax is the transfer of money for labor and materials, and the profit the recipient earns. The house isn’t taxed, except by the county for real estate taxes, but that’s another topic.