Friday, September 18, 2015

Questions for Candidates

In the e-mail there's an assignment: Generate questions to ask candidates "Trump, Carson, Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina, Walker, Christie, Rand, Santorum and Jindal." (sic)

My brain is tired, Gentle Readers. I've been working on too many different, small, potboiler projects, too fast. There is a faint, horrible possibility that some of The Nephews could become orphans. And I'm trying to figure out the new, improved system for embedding Amazon links into my blog posts; starting today, instead of random Amazon links in the sidebar, you should see a link to any book, or to a book by any author, mentioned in the text. (Two or more links to an author's name, in one post, means two or more recommended books.) If the respondent hadn't mentioned a list, my own list of candidates would have been "Carson, Paul, Clinton, the two bad jokes and a lot of other people."

However, now that I'm looking at their names, I do remember these Republicans. Ten politicians (and a spoiler) are enough to have in one room; the other Republicans have their points but should probably be encouraged to save their money for another year. Some of this lot should save their money, too: form coalitions, look for lower-profile positions that build their national name recognition (and campaign coffers), run for President later--the younger ones should have many chances ahead. Excluding Democrats makes things simpler but also makes this exercise the kind of Republican-fest where I think Grandma Bonnie Peters fits in, but I, as an independent swing voter, do not. So I conferred with GBP. We tried to think of a reasonably tough question for each Republican, even the ones for whom we'd probably vote, and here are some questions for them:

1. Question for BAHH the Bankruptcy Billionnaire: What, exactly, did the Clintons do to persuade you to nominate yourself? I don't hate you, but I have despised you since your first bogus bankruptcy in the Reagan Administration, and your bogus campaign is taking my opinion of you lower by the day. Go home.

[Before the official question for Ben Carson] Your plan for ending Obamacare doesn't go far enough to suit me, but since Governor Jindal is in this too, I'll save that question for him. This question is for you because GBP said it would be a deal breaker for her...and she's an active Seventh-Day Adventist:

2. Question for Ben Carson: Were you accurately quoted as saying that you would support mandatory vaccinations? If so, what persuaded you to abandon (a) Leviticus 17:14, which expresses ethical rather than medical objections to introducing any other creature's blood or serum into one's own body, and (b) the individual freedom of conscience your Protestant tradition has so long upheld, and (c) your own "Best/Worst Analysis" model of decision-making?

3. Question for Jeb Bush: Given that your brother's administration triggered the well-known blood feud mentality in much of the Arab world and stirred up a hornet's nest of terrorists and guerrillas who see their acts of violence as tragic heroism, why have you even considered seeking national office?

(You have found better ways to serve the country before, Jeb Bush, and you will again. Go home. You have a good record as Governor of Florida. Most of our Florida contacts like you. You were meant to do better things than cause wars.)

4. Question for Ted Cruz: You are not a natural-born citizen of the United States. Considering that you were brought up as a U.S. citizen from infancy, I think the technicality about your having been born in Canada is silly. But it is in the law. So why are you campaigning for a position from which you are barred by law, rather than campaigning to change the law?

5. Question for Marco Rubio: Your stated policy on immigration mentions a case-by-case basis. I personally think that makes more sense than a lot of immigration policies we've heard. Your Republican base do not. How will you resolve this conflict with the people you would be elected to represent?

6. Question for Carly Fiorina: You are a world-class public speaker and debater. That's one important qualification for a President. What are your others? Your business career was somewhat less successful than some legitimate "outsider" candidates', and you've not yet had a political career. What made you think you should dive directly into a presidential campaign rather than a gubernatorial or senatorial campaign?

7. Question for Scott Walker: Granted that a wall along the Canadian border would be a big job creation scheme...and that it's also a vintage Garrison Keillor joke...how seriously are you taking this idea, or expecting others to take a campaign that features it? (Our e-friend Julito in Canada had some fun with this one this week: .)

8. Question for Chris Christie: You are the only non-author in this group (the spoiler has had books published in his name, although this web site doesn't recommend them), but you obviously are doing something right. Our Republican contacts were disowning you years ago. You have no support in our part of the world, none among GBP's "Christian Right" contacts, and none among my "Moderate Right Libertarian" contacts. So, whoall do support you, and why, and what makes you and them believe you can win the election?

[Before the real question for Senator Paul] I'm typing these questions and I say people who are still mixing up your name with either Ron Paul's or Phil Roe's have a problem. That should not be your problem. When I kept mixing up people, like the writers Richard Wright and James Baldwin, I sat down and read enough of their books to get separate images of them clearly fixed in my mind, so as not to sound ignorant or senile.

So, 9. Question for Rand Paul: You are a real libertarian. In the Senate, and on domestic policy issues, I love that. I'd like to see more of it in Congress and some of it in the White House as well. I'm asking this as a person who's lost a great deal of money, and what most people would call success, by behaving honorably toward someone who had no honor. There is just one place for authoritarian, anti-libertarian thinking. That is in armed forces at war. You are a man of peace; you understand peace far better than most politicians do. You are a Christian and a healer and a bridge builder. Many Republicans fear, for valid reasons, that we're likely to see a military attack on American soil during the next eight years. Of course a President is expected to consult military leaders about military issues--that's what the Pentagon is for. But, in the event of war, how would you reconcile being a natural-born Peace Chief with having to function as a War Chief?

10. Question for Rick Santorum: You are known as a devout, practicing Catholic. We've had a Catholic President before, and the thing people like to forget is that he was controversial and distrusted until he was murdered. And he was a secular Catholic. Why would our Protestant majority support you in place of Governor Huckabee? Why would our numerous non-Christian minorities support you at all?

Though all of my known ancestors have been Protestants since at least the sixteenth century, I've worked with Catholics who were good and trustworthy people. Also Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Humanists, Buddhists, and Pagans who were the same. In most positions I'd have no reservations about backing a Catholic, a Mormon, or a Muslim. For a President of the United States I think those three religious groups are too well organized and too devious to be trusted. No matter how fine the individual man or woman might be, any of those organizations behind him or her just does not belong in our national government.

[Before the question for Bobby Jindal] We have a stereotype of how a leader should look; that stereotype has hurt Candidate Fiorina, it's hurt Senator Paul, and it's probably hurt you more than either of them. People rethink their stereotypes slowly. It's only recently that we've admitted that Dr. Carson actually fits the stereotype for how a leader should look, perfectly, as soon as you remove "Caucasian" from the specifications for that stereotype. Going by a web search I just did, I think the electorate may need some more time to get accustomed to seeing you as a leader. But "Why can't you wait and build your record, recognition, and also campaign fund, by supporting an older candidate whose image is currently more presidential, and who may not have the other chances you probably will have" is a group question for all younger candidates. It's not that forty is "too young"; it's that qualified forty-year-olds should want to line up behind qualified sixty-year-olds.

11. Question for Bobby Jindal: You have more to recommend you than I think most voters realize. You've actually managed to shrink the cost of a government while being part of it, and while that government was carrying the weight of recovery from a disaster. You claim to have the solution to Obamacare as well...but when we examine your proposed solution, it basically consists of allowing mandatory insurance on the state level, not to reducing costs by stripping the expense of insurance out of the medical care system. That would be a simple solution for you, if you were President. What would it solve for anybody else?