I was talking with cub reporter Matthew F. King on the Google chat yesterday, and we got on the subject of how Barry will fare in the upcoming debates with John McCain. Due to expectations set by the media, Obama will have to slay for his performance to be even seen as satisfactory.
Unfortunately, debate isn’t Barack’s strongest suit. With his professorial air and long pauses interspersed with "you knows" and "umms," Obama does not lend himself to the soundbite. And McCain might seem like an ill-tempered old coot, but he’s got a sly, disarming style that, when it works, can make even the most ludicrous pronouncements sound perfectly reasonable.
Not that I don’t think Barry can’t kick ass. But if he slips, there will be harsh judgment — not only from the pundits, but also from those members of the public looking for any reason to go with the "familiar," read: white, ticket.
Barack will face tough interrogation, and McCain is poised to pounce on any wavering by his opponent. As the 72 year-old head of an incredibly unpopular party, Johnboy has nothing to lose. That’s why, if I were Barry’s fight coaches, I’d be drilling him in his sleep. Proper training is the only road to victory.
To that end, I’ve come up with a handful of very difficult questions Obama is likely to face, and paired them with their most appropriate answer. Attention, Messrs Plouffe, Gibbs and Axelrod: if you somehow find
yourself at this site and become desirous of my employ, you can
e-mail me using the handy tab at the top left of your screen.
1. Senator Obama, you opposed the troop surge in Iraq, a policy your opponent vigorously promoted. Now that the verdict is in on its stabilizing effect, can you admit before the American public that you were wrong in your position?
It’s crucially important that Obama not get too nuanced here. Americans don’t care that the purpose of the surge was to create conditions for Iraqi political reconciliation and achieve specific benchmarks; they want to know if we’re winning and, if so, when we can leave. Here’s what Obama should say:
The surge may have achieved certain military objectives, but it it will never make up for the colossal failures of this war, which has put our sons and daughters in harm’s way for entirely misguided reasons. Because of John McCain’s policies, we can’t properly treat our returning heroes, much less provide health insurance to millions of suffering Americans, many of whom have already lost their homes or are nearly there. Meanwhile, the enemy who committed the heinous act against us on 9/11 is still roaming free. These conditions are all a direct result of George Bush and John McCain’s failed domestic and international policies, which, Americans will agree, have gone on long enough. My administration will right these wrongs, and reposition our military to succeed where Bush and McCain’s approach failed, namely in combating terrorism, capturing Bin Laden and keeping our country safe.
2. At a recent forum on faith, you claimed that determining when human life begins was "beyond your pay grade." Yet your own running mate, Senator Biden, says he believes life begins at conception. How is it that a would-be Vice President can make this distinction, yet yourself, at the top of the ticket, cannot?
I bet you a hundred bucks that if Barry is asked this question, he’ll start his answer with "Look." Can’t you just hear him in your head? Anyway, here’s what he should say:
When I gave that answer I was attempting to suggest that it’s not up to us to understand every aspect of the Divine plan. If you’re willing to accept that God speaks to individuals and families in unique and personal ways, you have to accept that the answer for one person may be different than for another. That’s what we call faith, and it’s consistent with my public position on a woman’s right to choose. It’s between her, her family and her God. Government’s role should be to ensure the best health care for all women, before, during and after pregnancy. This includes proper sex education to help women and their partners make smart reproductive choices that will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. I think that’s a goal we can all agree on.
3. With all due respect to your running mate, Joe Biden, many Americans — particularly Hillary Clinton supporters, of which there are some 18 million — are wondering why you didn’t choose her for the Number Two spot. Some have expressed disappointment at the fact she wasn’t even vetted. What would you tell these individuals?
This is what we call a "gotcha" question. There’s really no good answer. If he praises Hillary too much, it will look like he’s second guessing his choice in the wake of Governor Palin’s appointment. If he dismisses the question, he’ll be perceived as not affording Hillary the respect she deserves. Here’s a possible way out:
Hillary Clinton is a person worthy of respect and admiration and she gets both from me. She’s an excellent Senator, and I have no doubt she’d she’d make a fine President or Vice President. I bet she’d even make a good mayor! But I made my decision based on who I felt would best assist me in tackling the many challenges we face as a nation. Joe Biden’s great wisdom and experience in both foreign and domestic policy put him at the top of my list. Hillary, of course, will continue to have a major role not only in my candidacy, but also my Presidency. But Joe is the VP, and that’s not just good for me, it’s good for America.
5. America is facing an energy crisis, which will likely require new strategies to overcome. One measure that’s been embraced by your opponent is offshore domestic drilling. You were against the idea in the past, but have lately softened your stance on the matter. Does this mean you’ve come around to Senator McCain’s point of view?
Another "gotcha." Barack can’t signal weakness, but his actual position is too nuanced for a flip-flop hungry electorate. But there is a way to neutralize the question without appearing wishy-washy:
It’s more like Senator McCain is coming around to my point of view, or rather he’s pretending to. It doesn’t matter how many windmills appear in his TV ads, my opponent has nothing approaching a coherent energy plan. He favors huge tax breaks for oil companies, and his running mate thinks global warming is a myth. So that should give you an idea of where they’re coming from. Maybe he wants to be able to call one of his houses in Arizona a ‘beachfront property,’ I dunno. What I do know is that there’s not a single solution to our energy problems in his plan that doesn’t involve drilling. I’ve said I’d consider allowing exploration of our domestic oil resources as part of an energy innovation campaign that would invest in new technologies to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and harness existing sources of energy like wind and solar power. My plan would create jobs for Americans. Senator McCain’s plan, if it can even be called that, would create bigger bonuses for oil CEOs.
So there you have it. By no means do I suppose these will be the only questions Barack will be asked; they’re just the ones I think will pose the most difficulty. Feel free to continue the exercise in the comments. . .