Although, I would never even consider voting for the intolerable and untenable McCain/Palin ticket, I’m finding it extremely difficult to work up any enthusiasm for – or trust in – Obama/Biden. I’m trying to do so, though, because I live in Florida, where my vote will matter much more than it would if I still lived in New York.
Yes, the Democrats’ platitudes are articulated better than the Republicans’, and, superficially, sound far more appealing. But even a cursory reading of the transcript of last night’s tea party (only an idiot would refer to it as a “debate”) demonstrates that Obama’s words are just as meaningless and empty as McCain’s.
So the following, organized by category, are some questions that I’d like to hear Barack Obama answer. I even invite any reader who's a member of the "We Love Obama" fan club to stand in as his proxy, as long as you can provide some cogent evidence that you're speaking for him. Please don't waste your time telling me how bad McCain would be; I already know that.
- You’ve spoken a lot about wanting to “fix” our energy system. Can you tell us about five specific actions toward such an end that you would either take directly as president or push Congress to adopt? Can you give us an estimate of the cost of these actions, and give us particulars about where the money and manpower would come from? If any of these actions would require a degree of government administration and/or oversight, can you explain in detail how that would work?
- Same questions about fixing our health care system. Again, please be specific rather than speaking in generalities.
- Same questions about our educational system, with the same requirement for details.
- How, exactly, do you plan to prevent lobbyists from influencing government actions? What do you mean when you refer to “special interests,” and can you name any interests that aren’t special?
- You’ve said over and over again that you would cut taxes for the middle class, and raise taxes for those making more than $250,000. Are you talking about gross or net income, and how would you specially ensure that there isn’t a huge loophole disparity between those amounts? What kind of dollar figures are you talking about for those cuts and those raises, and what will be the end result in total revenues collected each year through federal taxes?
- How will you go about deciding whom to appoint as a Supreme Court justice, should a vacancy occur. Without speaking in vagaries, what criteria will you use?
- Assuming that a pregnant woman is healthy both mentally and physically, at what point does her fetus’s potential future trump her right to choose? How would you justify, constitutionally, ever denying a woman the right to make decisions about processes occurring within her own body?
- Can you explain, exactly, how the faith-based initiatives you’d propose would work? Can you also explain how such initiatives would not conflict with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?
- You voted to give telecoms immunity from prosecution after they had colluded in spying on American citizens. Can you explain how you justify that vote? If your answer is related in any way to realpolitik, can you clarify why that should take precedence over the Fourth Amendment?
- What specific advantages in “the war on terror” do you think will be gained today by killing bin Laden? What specific advantages will be gained by capturing him and not killing him? Are there any other persons whom you would like to kill or capture? Why or why not?
- Which countries do you currently consider America’s friends? Explain. Which countries would you like to bring into America’s circle of friends, and how would you do that? Explain. Which countries are most dangerous today to America, and how would you make them less dangerous? Using specific details, please explain that answer as well.
- How do you envision an Iraqi democracy working? Can you support your ideas with examples drawn from Iraqi history, culture, or religious beliefs.
- The Palestinians democratically empowered Hamas. Is that OK with you? Why or why not? Should the United States be more committed to worldwide democracy or worldwide freedom? Can you elaborate on the distinction between democracy and freedom?
- Do you believe that all Jews worldwide are represented by Israel? If so, how? If not, then given that Israel is a quasi-theocratic state and not representative of an entire ethnic or religious group, how can you justify using the loaded phrases “never again” and “Holocaust” in statements supporting that country?
- Do you agree that many of the problems in the 21st century world are caused by religious extremists? Why or why not? In what way are the beliefs of religious extremists different from the beliefs of other theists? What steps would you take to curb religious extremism around the world and in our own country?
- Using as an example at least 25 votes during your years in the Senate, in what ways have you personally stood up to the Bush Administration? What was your own reasoning for casting those votes? Again, using as an example at least 10 votes during your years in the Senate, in what ways have you personally stood up to the majority of your own party? What was your own reasoning for casting those votes?
- Under what circumstances would it be all right for a president to lie to, or mislead, the American public? If you answer “never,” then under what circumstances would it be all right for a presidential candidate to lie to, or mislead, the American public? If again you answer “never,” then can you explain your pro-FISA vote and your decision to bow out of the public campaign financing system, both of which you'd promised not to do.
- As president, will you represent atheists as well as theists? If you agree to get advice from, and/or speak privately to, religious leaders, will you also seek advice from, and/or speak privately to, avowed atheists? Have you consulted on public policy with any representatives of atheist groups, or appeared at any atheist functions? If so, with whom, where, and when? What was your rationale for agreeing to appear at a public circus sponsored by Saddleback Church and hosted by its pastor, Rick Warren?
- Whom are you thinking about for various cabinet and advisory positions, and whom are you considering for your presidential staff? Again, without speaking in vagaries, what criteria will you use to select these men and women?
- Under what circumstances should a president seek evidence from experts rather than consulting opinion polls? Do you think the majority of the American people have ever held "wrong" opinions? What opinions are those, and why, in your view, were they wrong?