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10 Debate Questions John McCain Will Never Be Asked

April 17, 2008

While the liberal blogosphere and media critics alike are fuming over the deplorable gotcha-fest that was the ABC Democratic debate yesterday in Philadelphia, conservative talking heads are positively ecstatic. In the New York Times, David Brooks called the questions on lapel pins and the Weather Underground "excellent." The excreable Michelle Malkin snarked, "How dare they explore questions of character, truthfulness, and judgment?" And over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey offered "kudos to ABC News" while noting "John McCain has to feel grateful not to be included."
Which is exactly right. The so-called "maverick" John McCain has never been subjected to the inquisitorial equivalent of the rectal probes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton received last night. And given the media's on-going love affair with Mr. Straight Talk, he no doubt never will be.
But since the right-wing amen corner asked for an exploration of John McCain's "character, truthfulness, and judgment," the following represents a subset what an American media actually doing its job might ask of the Republican presidential nominee.
Here, then, are 10 debate questions John McCain will never be asked:
1. Do you agree with Pastor John Hagee that war with Iran is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy?
In February, you shared a stage with Pastor John Hagee and said you were "very proud" to have his endorsement. You also called the Reverend Rod Parsley, a man who said of Islam "America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed", your "spiritual guide." Do you believe America's mission is to destroy Islam? Do you join Pastor Hagee in believing the United States must attack Iran to fulfill the biblical prophecy of Armageddon in Israel in which 144,000 Jews will be converted to Christianity and the rest killed? Is that why you joked about "bomb bomb Iran?" If not, why will you not renounce the support of Hagee and Parsley?
2. Doesn't your legendary temper make you too dangerous to be trusted with the presidency of the United States?
Your anger, even toward friends and allies, is legendary. You purportedly dropped the F-Bomb on your own GOP colleagues John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley. In the book, The Real McCain, author Cliff Schechter claims you got into a fist-fight with your fellow Arizona Republican Rick Renzi. Allegedly, you even publicly used a crude term, one which decorum and the FCC prohibit us from even saying on the air, to describe your own wife. Which if any of these episodes is untrue? Don't your anger management problems make you too dangerously unstable to be president of the United States?
3. Doesn't your confusion regarding basic facts about the war in Iraq, including repeatedly citing a nonexistent Al Qaeda-Iran alliance, make you unfit for command?
On four occasions in one month, you confused friend and foe in Iraq by describing Sunni Al Qaeda as being backed by Shiite Iran. Then you showed a misunderstanding of the U.S. chain of command when you claimed you would not back shifting forces from Iraq to Afghanistan "unless Gen. [David] Petraeus said that he felt that the situation called for that," a decision which Petraeus himself told you and your Senate colleagues only the week before rests not with him but with his superiors. Doesn't your lack of understanding and judgment when it comes to basic facts of America's national security disqualify you as commander-in-chief?
4. Given your past adultery, should Americans consider you a moral exemplar of family values?
You are the nominee of a Republican Party which claims to support so-called "family values." Yet you commenced an adulterous relationship with your current wife Cindy months before the dissolution of your previous marriage to your first wife Carol. Should Americans consider you to be a moral exemplar of family values?
5. Doesn't your flip-flop on Jerry Falwell being an "agent of intolerance" show your opportunistic pandering to the religious right?
In 2000, you famously called the late Jerry Falwell "an agent of intolerance," a statement which may have cost you the decisive South Carolina primary. But as you ramped up your next presidential run in 2006, you embraced Falwell and gave the commencement address at his Liberty University. When Tim Russert asked that spring if you still considered him an agent of intolerance, you said, "'no, I don't." Why shouldn't the American people consider you a flip-flopping opportunist who cynically courted the religious right to further your 2008 presidential ambitions?
6. Given your wealth and privileged upbringing, aren't you - and not Barack Obama - the elitist?
You have called Barack Obama an elitist. Yet you recently returned to your exclusive private high school, one which now costs over $38,000 a year to attend. Your wife is the heiress to a beer distribution company, reputedly owns 8 homes and has a net worth well over $100 million. Your children all attended private schools, academies which also happened to be the primary beneficiaries of funds from your supposed charitable foundation. Shouldn't the American people in fact view you as the elitist, and a hypocritical one at that?
7. What is your religion, really? And has the answer in the past changed as the South Carolina primary approached?
I want to ask about your seemingly ever-changing religious beliefs. In June 2007, McClatchy reported, "McCain still calls himself an Episcopalian." In August 2007, as ABC reported, your campaign staff identified you as "Episcopalian" in a questionnaire prepared for ABC News' August 5 debate. But as the primary in evangelical-rich South Carolina neared, in September 2007 you said of your religious faith, "It plays a role in my life. By the way, I'm not Episcopalian. I'm Baptist." But in March 2008, Pastor Dan Yeary of your North Phoenix Baptist Church refused to comment on why you have refused to finally undergo a baptism ceremony. Congressional directories still list you as an Episcopalian. In the past, you've said, "When I'm asked about it, I'll be glad to discuss it." So what is your religion? And couldn't Americans be forgiven for assuming your changing faith is tied to your changing political needs?
8. Didn't President Bush betray you with his signing statement on the Detainee Treatment Act? You claim to be against torture, but aren't you a hypocrite for voting "no" on the Senate waterboaring ban?
You've said that "we can't torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured". And in December 2005, you famously reached a compromise with President Bush on the Detainee Torture Act banning cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees. But just two weeks later, President Bush issued a signing statement making it clear he would ignore the compromise you just reached. Then in February 2007, you voted "no" on a Senate bill banning waterboarding. Isn't it fair to say President Bush betrayed you with his December 30, 2005 signing statement? And isn't it fair to say you caved to the right-wing of your party on the issue in order to win the Republican nomination?
9. Why did you flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts you twice opposed? Why do you now support making them permanent for the wealthiest Americans who need them least?
You twice voted against the Bush tax cuts. Now you support making them permanent. In 2001, you said, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief." Now, according to the Center for American Progress, your tax plan would cost more than $2 trillion over the next decade and "would predominantly benefit the most fortunate taxpayers, offering two new massive tax cuts for corporations and delivering 58 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers." Isn't it true that you flip-flopped on the Bush tax cuts? Isn't it fair to say that you now favor a massive expansion of the federal budget deficit in order to fund a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans who need it least?
10. With the economy tanking, shouldn't Americans be concerned over your past statements that "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should?"
Americans consistently report that the economy is the issue that concerns them most. Yet more than once, you proclaimed your ignorance when it comes to the economy. In November 2005, you told the Wall Street Journal, "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." Then in December 2007, you admitted, "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should." Shouldn't the American be worried about President McCain's ability to lead the United States out of recession? Given your past statements, shouldn't the American reject out of hand your claim that "I know the economy better than Senator Clinton and Senator Obama do?"
For more background, see:

UPDATE: With Senator McCain now scheduled to appear this Sunday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous, here are "10 More Questions John McCain Will Never Be Asked."

26 comments on “10 Debate Questions John McCain Will Never Be Asked”

  1. This is a really great compilation. The background is really helpful.
    That much said, I do think that McCain will get asked about the tax cuts...

  2. That was a very good post. It was nice and informative. For the life of me, I can't understand why the mainstream media won't report this stuff. It's as if McCain's has paid them off. I would love to see the unwritten editorial policy on reporting about Republicans versus Democrats.

  3. This is really reaching if you ask me. It has no legs so I don't expect any of it will be seen again. Vainglorious political hackery at best.
    Both sides have their minions of slanderous hacks, heck the Democrats have hacks within that set up each other: Witness the silly attacks on Hillary and Barrack.

  4. Norman, how can I even take your comment seriously when you use the term 'hacks'. Even if you do view this post as ridiculous, why shouldn't these questions be asked. I feel we should be able to know everything and anything about someone who is running to be our leader.

  5. These questions will never be asked not because the MSM has some sort of bias towards McCain (they may or may-not) but because they are obviously flamebait and loaded questions. If they were asked, they certainly wouldn't be worded like that.

  6. No, and no pertinent questions will be asked in the debates, and NO pertinent answers will be GIVEN (at least by McCain).
    Remember the 20 things Kerry wasn't allowed to address with bush? Kerry should have REFUSED to debate bush under those conditions, and instead hammered away at being allowed to ask whatever he wanted, in the process making people realize what bush really was/is; a weak-minded, not-so-quick-on-his-feet little hick.
    But, what do I know? I guess it really wasn't THAT important, they were only "debating" for THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
    What the hell is wrong with this country anyway? I guess we'll all have to be out of work, starving and desperate before we take to the streets and haul these carpetbaggers from their ivory towers. Take heart though, that should be soon enough.

  7. @ Nikolai - Can you answer me one simple question? Why is it that the far left (which I'm assuming you proudly belong to) touts their tolerance, open-mindedness, and general acceptance of others, except for when it doesn't benefit them?
    One example is Obama's insensitive (and off base) remarks about rural America being a bunch of bitter white people clinging to guns, and generally hating those who are not like them. YOUR OWN comment about Bush being a "little hick" is another shining example. I'm sure you're completely accepting of anyone and everyone, as long as they vote the same as you. If not, tolerance is thrown out the window, and "hicks" be damned.
    Insult Bush all you want, which I'm sure you will. You seem to be filled with hate and rage anyways, and maybe that will help you not be such a bitter little person in the end. I truly feel sorry for you.

  8. Deuce: easy answer, because he didn't say anything that wasn't true. It's obvious you're city-folk that has never been to a small, white community. And, I'm not talking about the suburbs around your city, I'm talking the kinds of areas that make up most of the US. The kinds of areas that take you can drive through for hours without seeing a house or another person. I get to go to these places fairly regularly to see my inlaws. It's quite the sobering event when you see a "Help Wanted" sign in the window of a store with "No Blacks" written underneath.
    I will, however, concede one point: Nikolai's calling Bush a "little hick" is totally inaccurate. He was born in Connecticut and went to school in Massachusetts. He's so not a hick. Moron, yes. Grandson of a nazi collaborator, yes. But not a hick.

  9. A bunch of good questions, but I have one nitpick: isn't what McCain's parents spent to send him to private school more relevent than what the school costs now?

  10. I'd love to see a similar list on the other candidates...
    Or is it harder to rip on your own party?

  11. John McCain was tortured so you can't question his acquiescence on allowing torture.
    John McCain told you he was an authority on the military so you can't question his failure to understand basic military intelligence like the difference between the SHIA and SUNNI.
    John McCain is working on his temper so you can't question a lifetime pattern of explosive temper outbursts.
    John Lobbyists run McCain's campaign so you can't question his ties to lobbyists.
    John McCain cheated on his first wife with his second wife so you can't question possible cheating on his second wife.
    John McCain told you he doesn't understand economics so you can't question his failure to understand economics.
    John McCain wrote the campaign finance law that he's breaking so you can't question him about breaking the campaign finance law.
    John McCain rejected religious extremists before he embraced religious extremists so you can't question him about his associations with religious extremists.
    John McCain was for fiscal responsibility before he ran for President where he's now proposing fiscal policies that would indebt US an additional $TRILLION (or and additional five $Trillion depending on whose counting).
    More John McCain news

  12. Very interesting questions. Should we not ask similar questions of all of our canidates? I am sure that Obama has answers for all of these. Can we really consider putting someone with as little experience in economics, as Obama has, in the White House? Does he fulfill the profile we need of an American President? Someone who wants to open discussions regarding foreign policy with the leader of Iran? The man who has come out to seek the destuction of the state of Israel?
    I was not in favor of John McCain. But I am very concerned with the choices we have in our future elections. The United States has some very difficult decisions to make.

  13. Great list... but as you say, most of the conservative corporate media won't be subjecting their good buddy McCain to such substantive questions. They are afraid they won't get invited to his next bar-b-que.
    And the "maverick" BS.... did I see McCain used the term to describe himself in one of his books?

  14. Those who would like to see a similar list on the other candidates are missing the point of this list: that the media has an infatuation with John McCain that is unwarranted.
    The hostile and petty attitude of some of these questions is meant to parody that from the ABC Democratic debate. Questions like this (though perhaps not as hostile) are asked of Barack Obama when he is before a town hall, on national television, and responding to inquiries. McCain's campaign, however, weeds out those who would ask things of this nature-- so the basic underlying questions, even without the spin, go unanswered.
    And, no, Bush is not a hick. He's the multimillionaire son of a former president who got through life on nepotism and favors.
    Daniel Fischer: Obama's economic advisors include Robert Reich and Jeff Liebman from Harvard. His economic stimulus plan has been lauded as the best of all the candidates since there were dozens in the running. McCain's is virtually nonexistent.
    As for talking to our enemies, including state sponsors of terrorism, James Baker (Reagan's Chief of Staff) recommends it very highly, reminding us that talking is not appeasement. Strong presidents aren't afraid to meet even with their worst enemies.

  15. You can make a similar list about Obama.
    None of these candidates are worthy of being
    prez. All of them have done very little in the
    A sad day for America comes no matter which
    of these guys wind up in the oval office.

  16. In SNN's documentary "McCain revieled" senator John McCain stated that he refused to be relieved from Vietnamese jail up front of other POW. The question is: did Vietnamese need THE PRISONER's PERMISSION to do what they want? This "refusal" sounds like "...What? Torture? Hell, no. I refuse it". Obama at least doesn't try to pretend that he tried marijuana without actually inhaling it...

  17. In SNN's documentary "McCain revieled" senator John McCain stated that he refused to be relieved from Vietnamese jail up front of other POW. The question is: did Vietnamese need THE PRISONER's PERMISSION to do what they want? This "refusal" sounds fishy. Like: "...What? Torture? Hell, no. I refuse it". Obama at least doesn't try to pretend that he tried marijuana without actually inhaling it...

  18. I wonder if they will ask Obama if he will go back to his racial hate church if he loses, or if him and his wife will go back to hating America. At least if he pay taxes I guess it does not matter if he pledges to the flag..... He will still be patriotic...RIGHT?

  19. I am a retired airline pilot who flew with Eastern and retired from US Airways. Our son is currently a United pilot. From McCain's voting record we note several times he voted against job security for airline pilots: He opposes collective bargaining rights, wants to allow foreign airlines to operated on American air routes, threatening our jobs, supports permanently replacing striking workers, opposes protections for overseas flight crews, voted to gut flight attendant anti-terrorism training retirements, fought funding for air marshals, believes airline pilots are greedy and careless, and on . . . How can McC earn the trust of airline pilots?


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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