A few questions I wish Bob Schieffer would ask the candidates
The New York Daily News was kind enough to quote me in its story on CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, the last old-school news anchor to take on the thankless task of quizzing the presidential candidates for a nationally broadcast debate tonight.
This election cycle, as Americans increasingly press the candidates for specific answers to the enormous probably facing the country, previous debate moderators have faced some blowback for allowing John McCain and Barack Obama to offer talking points rather than answers. Schieffer, like the others before him, have promised to keep that from happening.
To help out, I'm offering a few potential questions Schieffer might want to ask tonight, in the interests of making sure these guys talk about something besides George Bush's mistakes and William Ayers' 40-year-old transgressions. The success of any of these questions is pretty much contingent on getting these guys to actually answer the questions they are asked.
"Senator McCain, in the previous debate, you suggested establishing a government program which would buy up some bad mortgages to keep homes from foreclosure. But such a plan would likely cost $300-billion, force the taxpayer to take losses on bad lending decisions made by banks and homeowners and create a massive government bureaucracy devoted to fishing out which mortgages were worthy of this bailout. Haven't you criticized all this in the past?"
"Senator Obama, you have presented a wide range of plans for public policy issues, ranging from weaning the nation from dependence on oil to instituting a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans. But given the Democratically-controlled Congress' inability to move quickly, even on an emergency bailout for the nation's economic system, what makes you think Congress will enact any of your ideas?"
"Senator McCain, your running mate Sarah Palin has said a recent report from the Alaska legislature on the firing of public safety director Walt Monegan found "no unlawful or unethical activity on my part." But the report says she broke the state ethics law. How can her statement be true, and what should voters think about her seeming unwillingness to face facts?"
"Senator Obama, over the past few year, you have: promised to filibuster any bill protecting phone companies for helping the government enact warantless wiretaps, then decided not to do so; promised to use public financing for your campaign then decided against it; and opposed offshore drilling for oil until you decided it could be a part of your energy package. Don't these examples prove you will indulge a politician's habit of telling voters what they want to hear, even if you make a different decision later?
"Senator McCain, you have said that you know how to find Osama bin Laden right now. If so, why haven't you shared that information with anyone in government? Can you tell us now, specifically, how you would capture him and why you are so certain you would be successful?"
"Senator Obama, you are proposing massive changes to the nation's health care system, including requiring that all children have health insurance, requiring insurance companies to stop elevating risk on participants based on their health status and creating a new national health plan for those who are not insured. The last Democratic president tried something like this and was roundly defeated by the health care system's lobbyists. How, specifically, would you overcome the health care system's resistance?"