I don’t think it’s too much to expect an individual who’s vying to be the next leader of the free world to be able to handle difficult questions.
We, the people, have a right to know more than just the talking points that each candidate’s teams have spent hours laying out for them, which is why it’s a little disturbing to hear all of the complaints coming from the Republican party after their recent debate on CNBC because it seems that they’re not so much interested in a real debate as they are a perfectly executed stage play in which each of them gets to recite their favorite colors and at the end everybody goes out for tea, regardless of whether or not they actually managed to give the American people anything new to help gauge their votes as they prepare to elect the next President of the United States.
A lot of the criticism stems from this new idea of “gotcha journalism” that was more or less christened by the one and only Sarah Palin back during the 2008 presidential election when Katie Couric pried deep beyond her personal boundaries to dare ask what news media she consumed on a daily basis … specifically. It’s not a complicated question, and think of how much of a baseline it can help you to establish about somebody just by learning that they primarily get their news from Fox News or the Huffington Post! Yet Palin stumbled, and ever since we’ve had to listen to her complain about how the mainstream media and their gotcha questions were just out to get her from the start.
Which is frankly both silly and paranoid because nobody was out to get her – we just wanted to know what we were getting ourselves into by voting her into the Vice Presidency that put her one 70 year-old man’s heart attack away from leading the country herself. In hindsight, I don’t think it’s too far out of left field to suggest that we kind of dodged a bullet there!
What I find bizarre about this whole exchange is that when you really get down to the nuts and bolts of it, a politician’s job primarily consists of asking and being asked questions for and by the public, so why are they so scared of suddenly being put on the spot???
Particularly with the job of Chief Executive, it’s really important that we know the context behind the decisions that he makes and the influences that he carries into the role with him. And if a candidate for that job presents a proposal for something like a tax plan that may sound great as a talking point, but when you sit down and do the math is amazingly unfeasible, then that candidate should get called to task on it so that we don’t accidentally elect a person to office who thinks that the way to balance our nation’s budget is by dramatically slashing everybody’s taxes.
That’s why it’s essential for those in the media and those hosting these debates to really hold our candidates’ feet to the fire and drive them to speak to more than just the talking points about these key policy positions that will lead to them rising or falling in the polls the next morning. The idea that the candidates themselves want to establish all of these ground rules and groom the debates into exchanges where they feel the most comfortable is all the more reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to do so – these are presidential debates, not political retreats.
When I hear a candidate speaking outlandishly about foreign policy or tax reform or how to fix healthcare or immigration, any of these topics deserves more than a 15-second answer, and if digging into the details on any of these subjects pulls one of them away from their comfort zone, then all the better! The role of President of the United States of America is a position of great respect and authority the world over, and we owe it to ourselves to put the best people into that position who can represent us and the ideals that make this country what we all believe in our hearts of it to be.
It does neither the Republican party nor the American public at large any benefit to coddle the candidates and call out challenging questions as partisan attacks instead of inviting their supposed best and brightest to rise to this opposition in support of these controversial beliefs that they so proudly stand behind. If one thinks that their policies are truly the 180-approach to President Obama’s own that they’ve despised for the last seven years, why not speak out with the wisdom and authority that we expect from the office when challenged by the naysayers who are trying to catch them off their guard?!
A presidential election should be considered the ultimate job interview and we deserve candidates who can handle interview questions that aren’t perfectly folded to their liking and presented to them on a silver platter with an Andes mint to enjoy when they’re finished. President Obama’s pointed jab about the candidates’ chances with Russian President Vladimir Putin if they can’t even handle a panel of moderators stung all the more true because he kind of has a point – if they can’t even handle our own media calling them on their bullshit, how are they going to hold their own when in the company of other leaders around the world???
Maybe it just needs to be said – if being taken to task for the things that they’ve said and done to get them to that point is too much to ask, then maybe these candidates simply aren’t qualified for the job. It’s time for all of the candidates to stop whining, rise to the challenge of the office they’re competing for, and answer the questions.
And it’s time for us – along with the help of our media – to actually hold them accountable when they don’t.