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Posted by on Aug 7, 2007 in Guest Contributor, Politics | 31 comments

Guest Voice: Questions For The Candidates

NOTE: The Moderate Voice runs Guest Voice posts from time to time by readers who don’t have their own websites, or people who have websites but would like to post something for TMV’s diverse and thoughtful readership. Guest Voice posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Moderate Voice or its writers. This is another Guest Voice by Alex Hammer.

Questions For The Candidates
By Alex Hammer

For Hillary Clinton:

What are you FOR? You’ve gotten a long way criticizing the current Administration on everything (your husband’s Administration in my opinion was better but far from perfect either). Although I am very unsympathetic to the actions of the current administration, I feel that in your running for President you’ve overdosed on always being against, against, against. How you define yourself as a leader and in other ways is too much in comparison and contrast to others. A little of that is indeed helpful, but to repeat myself, what are you FOR?

For Barack Obama:
You know, I’m sure, that you’ve never really addressed the issue of your (lack of) experience. You say that you have a lot of experience as a community organizer and state legislator, etc., but we all know that’s not the same thing. Not that we necessarily want a Mr. Insider at this point, but we’d like a little more credible explanation. You are extremely articulate and bright, and also innovative (for example in your use of interactive technology in your campaign) but you haven’t lived up, in my view, to being a different type of politician. In too many instances in fact (e.g. your recent statement regarding Pakistan, Joe Anthony, feud with Hillary – including leaked memo you apologized for) you seem just like a typical politician.

For John Edwards:
What’s up with the poverty tour/hedge fund/trial lawyer thing? And when I heard recently that you run 4-6 miles per day (on top of a Presidential campaign!), all I could think about was how your wonderful wife Elizabeth, stricken by cancer, and your family I feel must need you now. More than the country needs you.

For Mitt Romney:
Why are you strapping your dog to the hood of the family car during a long trip, and then not responding about this incident seriously? I understand (from the limited amount I have read) that you are an extraordinarily talented and capable businessman, but a bit ruthless in business in the past.

For Rudy Giuliani:
I lived in and around NYC for all but around six months of your tenure of Mayor. I thought you were a disaster. You do possess some significant talents. Frankly, anyone that is inclined to vote for you I suggest that they first study your Mayoral record carefully. There is a lot there that is not significantly reported by the National press as you run for President.

For Fred Thompson:

You’re too new to the race, so you get a pass for now.

For John McCain: Are you still in the race?

Was I too hard on them??

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  • Lynx

    It’d be nice to just grab all the candidates and submit them to a surprise pop-quiz. They would be quized on their concrete positions and plans on the diverse set of topics that interest the voters and graded as any student would be. That is “protecting the American people” and “assuring healthcare for all Americans” would NOT be valid answers, you might as well say “make everything right”. The whole quiz could be made available, though an independent panel would grade the answers themselves, based not so much on how GOOD the proposals are, but how REAL they are.

    Oh and outlawing commentary on hair, necklines, shirt colors, food choices, teenage children etc. would also contribute greatly, at least to lowering THIS voters irritation.

  • Pls check the amount of space used for pressing Dem candidates and the (maybe not so) surprising lack of inquiry on republican candidates. With the exception of Giuliani, who has to many corpses in the cellar to simply ingnore his vulnerability, you gave the right wingers a free pass. And the ‘what are you FOR’ question should have been directed at every single one of them. Most obvious example: Now how long has Thompson been a Senator, and how long is his candidacy in the rumours, even though he can’t decide??? Why should he be excluded from tough questions, when Obama isn’t? Ridiculous.

    All in all, this doesn’t look like it’s been prepared by an allegedly independent interviewer. Are you blind on the right eye, maybe? Imho this is sloppy work, not very impressive. And where’s the beef?

  • I guess it would have been a better idea to simply ask us, the readers, for our questions. This would be more democratic, and I think many of us don’t think Alex Hammer really represents our views. Now, if somebody from TMV could just stenograph our ideas, I guess we can do better than Alex’ attempt.

    Here are some points I’d like to know more about:

    To Fred Thompson
    – You’re a member of the church of christ, which seeks inspiration from christian communities of the first century. How do your religious views affect your political stances, especially the problematic relationship between nation and church, shown in the controversy on pledges and the teaching of the evolution?
    – You have been Senator from 1994 to 2003. What was the most important bill you introduced, and what was the most decisive impact you had on the Senate?
    – You “earned about half a million dollars from Washington lobbying from 1975 through 1993”. What do you think about the role of lobbies in Washington? Do you support limiting their influence?
    – In 1982, you lobbied for the deregulation of the Savings and Loan business. Many experts see the deregulation as the reason for the S&L crash in the late 80s. What is your stance on deregulation today? For instance, do you think credit card companies and mortgage institutions should be supervised by officials?
    – You were directly involved in the Watergate hearings as the representative for the minority (republicans). Pres. Nixon wasn’t at all happy about that, telling his aides, among other unflattering words, he thinks you’re “dumb as hell”. What would you want to answer to the late Pres., if you had the chance?

  • pacatrue

    Gray, I don’t think every single post from every guest blogger or regular has to be full of unbiased perfectly researched and justified commentary. This is sort of a fun post, and that’s about it, in my mind. Relax….

  • “For instance, do you think credit card companies and mortgage institutions should be supervised by officials?”

    Hmm, that’s not exactly what I wanted to say. Maybe this is better:
    “For instance, do you there should be more legal limits on the conduct of credit card companies, mortgage institutions abd health care insurances?”

  • “This is sort of a fun post, and that’s about it, in my mind.”

    Well, paca, imho it is a quite surprising stance that the campaign 2008 is “sort of fun”. And I don’t see any funny points in the list above, there’s nothing about Edwards’ haircut or Clinton’s cleavage. So, if Alex’ point is raising questions that haven’t been answered by the candidates so far, it’s totally ok to point out his obvious deficits in engaging the right side. I stand by my conviction that a community effort by the readers would produce a much more satisfying list of points.

  • Lynx

    Gray, the Guest Voice posts are meant to show the view of an individual with something interesting to say, not to repeat the readers opinions back at them. In fact, that goes for EVERY post in TMV. So far as I am aware no two TMV writers have the exact same set of positions and even when they DO hold a similar position they may do it for different reasons. So far, there have been few allergic reactions. In fact, it’s what makes this blog different (and in my view better) than the other ones.

  • domajot

    The question for Romney concerns his dog?

    This is a humorous questionaire, right?

  • “the view of an individual with something interesting to say”

    Indeed, indeed, Lynx. Couldn’thave said it better.

    Ok, now, Mr. Hammer, honestly, how much time did you spend compiling your questions? Of course, my view is totally subjective, but it seems to me It took me more time to prepare my points on Romney than you used for your whole story. Yeah, sure, must be because I’m a slow thinker…

    However, Alex general point ain’t bad. What questions haven’t yet been asked by the lazy press corpse? Any ideas, folks?

  • “The question for Romney concerns his dog?”

    Ok, I admit, that’s borderline funny, but not for the dog…

    How about asking Mitt if his underwear hampers his campaign efforts in hot weather states in any way?

  • “my points on Romney” actually were my pojnts on Thompson. Oops. Sry.

  • C Stanley

    Gray: A while back, Pete Abel did as you are now suggesting and compiled policy questions from this blog’s readers. He compiled them into broad questions and has submitted them, I think, to all of the candidates. I recall that Ron Paul’s campaign office responded but not sure if any others have yet (I think some told him that they will respond at a later date).

    Of course, these are general policy questions and not personally tailored to each candidate based on his/her history.

  • “A while back, Pete Abel did as you are now suggesting and compiled policy questions from this blog’s readers.”

    Thx for the hint, C, I’ll go looking for these. Sounds interesting.

  • A couple of reactions – and thank you as always for the comments. They are appreciated.

    I tried to be equally fair (or tough if you want to call it) with both D’s and R’s. From my perspective I may have been tougher actually on the R’s. The only question I asked McCain was whether he’s still in the race. I chided Romney for the dog action (and separately used the word ruthless) and, as mentioned, I held Rudy to task. I didn’t really feel that Fred Thomson has really been in the contest long enough to quiz him yet.

    I really like the point raised by a couple above that the press needs to be informed in the questions that they pose to candidates, and have them be issue focused. My experience running for Governor in 2006 (and I think the Maine press is as good or better than most states) is that there is a lot of competition in media for viewers – blogs are now part of the competition – and as a result there can be a strong tendency at times to a little bit follow the heard, go for the low hanging fruit, or be a bit sensationalistic. It takes a lot of work to really do research and examinine issues in depth, and then there is the possibility that few people will even read your work after that!

    In terms of my questions above, I admit I ask a lot about what interests me, or what my perceptions are, but I try and be broad and ask things that I think will hopefully interest readers also. Otherwise there is no point to write it. I do follow the campaigns fairly closely, but I am sure there are important areas that I am still unaware of, or haven’t highlighted enough, so please keep, as you wish, those suggestions coming. I love blogging, it’s a lot of fun, I am grateful for the opportunity, and I want to learn from others.

    I will be continuing here (as long as Joe wants me) and I’ve also become a blogger for the prestigious Huffington Post. My first blog there, if anyone is interested (shortened for length considerations) is and was chosen as a featured selection. I look forward to any comments at both locales.

    Thank you.

  • flyerhawk


    It seems that you put more time and thought into your questions to Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama than the other candidates combined.

    Regarding Mr. Edwards you made a personal insinuation about his family situation that really isn’t relevant to the discussion.

    Regarding Mr. Romney you made a passing jab and referred to a fairly unimportant anecdotal event.

    Regarding Mr. Giuliani you didn’t actually ask any questions. You simply said he was a bad mayor.

    If the point was to ask questions of the candidates I suspect that only Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama would even realize they were supposed to respond.

  • “From my perspective I may have been tougher actually on the R’s.”
    On Giuliani, that is. On Romney, you only had the dog question, and while it’s a mildly disturbing episode, I don’t think this a point important enough to base the decision on a candidate on it. Nothing for Thompson, and a softball question for McCain that would allow him to talk about the life, the universe and all the rest.

    On the opposite site, you accuse Hillary of having no positive ideas and you fire a whole broadside at Edwards on almost everything he’s doing, including his decision to run. Also, you judsge Obama as being too light on the leadership side (what about Thompson, hey?) and, actually quite ironically, you, who can’t leave a thread without a notice of your 2006 candidacy, accuse him of being too much of a politician. And that’s what you call “tougher actually on the R’s.”? You think it’s tough for them if you show this level of disinterest? |-(

  • domajot

    “From my perspective I may have been tougher actually on the R’s.”

    It just goes to show , how fdifferent perspectives can be. From mine, I see it differently.
    I see it almost exaxtly like Flyerhawk does.

  • With a hat tip to C.Stanley, I want to point out that TMV already posed great questions at republican candidates Huckabee and Paul and they actually answered them. Check the series ‘Facing The Music’ for some interesting insights:

  • I like the fact that there are high standards here. This is a great site. I’ll have to be even more careful (reflective) next time.

  • “I’ll have to be even more careful (reflective) next time.”

    Sounds good, Alex! JUust look at the stories of the other authors here. more often than lot, they put an impressive lot of work into them by checking facts to bolster their arguments, rephrasing their statements several times for a better reading experience, looking up pictures to run with them etc etc. Imho many of the posts here should make ‘professional’ columnists very ashamed of their lazily investigsated, ‘quick and dirty’ pieces.

  • somewhat OT, and I don’t really know who Marvin Phillips is, but this quote from him sounds fitting:
    “The difference between try and triumph is just a little umph!”

  • C Stanley

    The way I saw it, Alex was more detailed on his questions to Clinton and Obama and more dismissive of the rest. I read into that that he might want to support one of those two but is frustrated by their lack of candor and detailed policy proposals. Maybe I’m psychoanalyzing or reading more into that than I should, but it seemed that way to me. So when people say that he’s not as tough on the GOP and he takes issue at that, both are correct; he was ‘tough’ on the GOP candidates in that he didn’t seem to think most of them were worthy enough to even bother prodding for answers.

  • Well, if this is the case here, C, Alex just stepped into a trap many (includign me, sure) have difficulties to avoid. Too often we put candidates that are actually close to our interests under an immense lot of pressure for minor differences, while at the same time letting politicians that are on the opposite side run without giving them the same amount of scrutiny. To the public, this looks as though some candidates are surrounded by a lot of negative feedback, while its really a show of heightened interest on the details of their positions. I can’t help the feeling that this is what happened in 2000 and 2004, too.

  • Lynx

    C Stanley, my pseudopsichological interpretation of the difference was that the closer the candidate was to the White House, the more detailed the questions. On the Dem side both Obama and Clinton seem to be closer to the actual presidency than almost any of the GOP candidates, since the GOP has no front runners just a whole bunch of not entirely satisfactory candidates. Notice that the Edwards “question” isn’t very issue based. In fact, the critique of Giuliani is much more detailed and goes more to the heart of being a capable leader. Giuliani is closer to the presidency than Edwards, so he gets a better grilling.

  • C Stanley

    I see that too, Lynx, but on the other hand the grilling of Obama and Clinton allows room for them to respond (not literally, as I’m assuming they aren’t regular readers of TMV and we aren’t likely to see their responses in the comment threads here) while the grilling of Giuliani is more of a condemnation. Alex doesn’t appear interested in having Giuliani defend his record or give his take on the issues; instead he wants to point out why he thinks Rudy’s unfit for the office.

  • “he wants to point out why he thinks Rudy’s unfit for the office.”

    Actually, this, imho correct, judgment on Giuliani is what I liked best about Alex question. 😀

  • My original background is in Clinical Psychology (Master’s degree) so I don’t mind the psychoanalyzing at all. It feels good when people are engaged, both to a discussion of the election and the election itself.

    The truth is that I am an Independent, although before becoming an Independent I was a lifelong Democrat. Like many (or some) I have become a bit more conservative with age, but I put myself clearly in the “moderate” category.

    I believe that all of us need to work together, the best that we can, to get things done.

    In regard to Giuliani, I think he has matured some since he was Mayor of New York. Perhaps it was the cancer, and going through that. He was, in my opinion, hostile and belligerent when he was Mayor of NYC. He did decrease crime (continued decline after he left) substantially, which is good, but he was, as just one example, too willing to support the police in general, even in a climate in which their were high profile cases of such horrific abuse (that’s why I say go the record for one to form one’s own opinion). Of course he has his supporters as well. I personally don’t believe that he was that popular (don’t remember the polls) in NYC before 9-11, as there were many groups that very very very actively disliked him.

    In regard to Obama and Clinton. I think they have strong points for sure. I think Romney has strong points, and also some of the others that are in the list. I think in this election candidates will have to increasingly answer questions from voters, from whatever source they may come.

    That is the exciting part, if you ask me.

  • “the closer the candidate was to the White House, the more detailed the questions.”

    Well, I’m not sure Edwards was treated much nicer than Giuliani, and I think Romney is still very much on the race on the GOP side, so he would have deserved some tough questions. But you may have a point here, Lynx. However, maybe it’s only me, but I expect from an ‘independent’ view at the candidates that everyboody is facing the same scrutiny. By only applying pressure on the front runners such a questionaire would actually skew the odds in favor of the ‘outsiders’. I just don’t fell comfortable with such a manipulation. But again, maybe it’s only me.

  • “I think in this election candidates will have to increasingly answer questions from voters, from whatever source they may come.”

    Indeed, indeed. Let’s just hope that the voters will find more ‘questionable points’ about Romney than just his treatment of animals or his choice of underwear!

  • when I heard recently that you run 4-6 miles per day (on top of a Presidential campaign!), all I could think about was how your wonderful wife Elizabeth, stricken by cancer, and your family I feel must need you now.

    What the?

    That statement was way out of line.

    He can’t jog half an hour a day? And he has to retreat from public life because of his wife is ill? Despite her fairly obvious desire that he stay in the race.

  • “He can’t jog half an hour a day?”
    I guess all Alex wanted to say with this is the US can’t afford another president doing those dangerous outdoor sports where there’s always the risk that he’ll seriously injur himself!

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