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Monday, November 19, 2007

I Have A Question

Hillary Clinton managed to plumb a new campaign low in a now-infamous appearance at Grinnell College in Iowa on November 6, 2007. After providing a rather wooden answer to an oddly on-message question from a local student, it became known that the student had been prodded by Clinton's own staff to pose her question. Well, actually not HER question, but any one of a multitude of questions in this here binder that we on the campaign staff have conveniently compiled here for your electoral enlightenment. Go ahead, pick any of the spontaneous questions on this page right here... (#1)

Of course, the American people should be used to the concept at this point. We've watched with dismay and horror as the current White House occupant, despite packing public appearances with carefully screened, hand-picked, loyalty-oath-pledging crowds and hosting press conferences staffed by party operatives masquerading as independent reporters lobbing softball questions, still manages to turn every speech into a tour de farce of half thoughts and mangled syntax. One presumes that Gary Trudeau, who first represented GWB in his column as an empty Stetson hat above a asterisk later adopted an empty Roman centurion helmet atop an asterisk, decided at some point drawing a potted plant for GWB would just take up too much time.

It's not much of a puzzle as to why the candidates and their handlers insist on such moronic attempts at eliminating all risk and spontaneity from public appearances. With millions of dollars in PAC and special interest money riding on every word, any flub has the potential to become website gold on JibJab or YouTube and lead for the candidate's polls. In this climate, saying as little as possible and saying even less off the cuff is simply an effort by the candidates and those buying their favors to preserve their joint investment. Exxon, GE, and Consolidated Baby Diapers and Missile Systems, Inc. have too much riding on their lobbying dollar to have their candidate destroy their shot at writing their own regulations by actually providing a complicated, nuanced answer to a question such as "How do you propose to stabilize financial markets without protecting corrupt banks, mortgage lenders, credit rating agencies and individual borrowers who all should have know someone making $60,000 a year couldn't afford a balloon mortgage on an $600,000 home?"

What's most puzzling is trying to gauge exactly how much the bar of expectations on basic think-on-your-feet skills and public speaking has been lowered. Think of the benchmark to which every single candidate is being compared --- George W. Bush -- arguably the worst public speaker and without a doubt the worst thinker to occupy the White House in the mass media era. How little confidence must you have in your own intellect and speaking skills to risk getting caught staging your own "spontaneity" and wind up getting compared to the all-time worst? All you have to do is form a sentence with a subject, verb and object and you come off like Lincoln or Longfellow in comparison.

Have we really reached the point where we can't expect the would-be leader of the "Free World" to be able to handle five minutes of un-scripted, un-scrubbed, un-filtered questions from a soccer mom, auto mechanic, accountant or history professor in front of a public audience? Hell, Carol Burnett did that on TV every week for eleven years in front of millions wearing a cocktail dress and high heels at the end of her show.

At this point, I think I know the question I'd like to ask if given the chance at one of the debates.

Is Carol available?

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#1) http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/11/13/clinton.planted/index.html