Wednesday, October 01, 2008

When Every Question Is A Gotcha Question

Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain (their surrogates and their indefensible defenders) have gotten in the habit of defining any question Gov. Palin does not have an articulate answer for (more and more as her ignorance of anything outside Alaska becomes apparent) as a gotcha question or gotcha journalism.

In reality, all questions are gotcha questions to people who know nothing about the world around them. (Continued below the fold.)

Consider these questions:

One Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade?

What newspapers and magazines did you read?

What do you think the Bush doctrine is?

How does Alaska's proximity to Russia enhance your foreign policy credentials?

These are not gotcha questions. Some of these are, to quote Michael Feldman's What Do You Know, "things you should've learned in school, had you been paying attention."

A Supreme Court case other than Roe v Wade?

How about Dredd Scott v Sanford, which every American child has been taught of in school?

Or how about Edwards v Aguillard? Since you are a Young Earth Creationist and you served as a PTA member, chances are you probably heard about the decision that ruled that it is unconstitutional to require that Creationism be taught in public schools. You know, because of the Establishment Clause... Never mind.

A newspaper or magazine that contributed to forming your views on foreign policy matters?

How about Time, or Newsweek, without getting too fancy?

How about The National Review or The American Spectator?

Or The Weekly Standard? Hey, after all it was Bill Kristol, of The Weekly Standard and the Project for A New American Century, who has been lobbying for a U.S. president to reinvade Iraq since Daddy Bush failed to complete the mission in Gulf War I.

An honest answer? I have five kids, are you kidding me? I haven't had any time, let alone the curiosity, to read about foreign policy until three weeks ago! But from time to time I do read "The Alaskan's Russia Watch" (I am sure, since Alaska and Russia are so close, such a magazine must exist!), and the "Moose Field Dresser Magazine."

It's not just the fact that the questions listed should really not stump a potential VP. It's the answers that are stupefyingly stupid.

Even allowing that some questions might have been intended as gotcha questions, there are a million possible answers to be given, and it looks like--in every case--Gov. Palin has scraped the bottom of the barrell of stupid answers until she gave the one she came up with.

The Bush Doctrine? His worldview.

What magazines do you read? All of them, any of them that have been in front of me. (Most likely, People and Us Weekly).

How does Alaska's proximity to Russia help your foreign policy credentials? Our next door neighbors are foreign countries, um, they're in the state I'm executive of.

By stating or implying that the questions above are examples of "gotcha journalism," Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin show that they resent the fact that qualifications, credentials, preparation, and intelligence should be part of the evaluation process for the highest office in the land.

In fact, they are running their campaign in the same way: spreading lies, deception and misinformation about themselves and their opponents, as if people were too stupid too check, or as lazy and intellectually stumped to care, as they themselves are.

What they are really saying is: forget about all this stuff about knowledge, and intellectual preparation. I am a 72 year-old Senator, former POW, (pseudo-) maverick, and honorable guy (because I said so.) My running mate is an attractive woman who was good enough to become Alaska's Governor. What else do you need to know?

Trust our guts!

Haven't we been there before?

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