Friday Talking Points -- Debate Questions I'd Ask

Mitt Romney has been fighting the image of himself as plutocrat for his entire campaign. He seems to be losing that fight, and just when the whole "47 percent" thing starts receding in the media's focus, here comes yet another "plutocrat moment."

It seems Mitt is a helpful guy, especially when a neighbor needs a hand parking his yacht. Really -- you just can't make this stuff up, folks. Mitt Romney's a regular guy after all, since he helped tie up the boat belonging to the executive chairman of Marriott International.

Unsolicited advice to the Romney campaign: this is not the way to convince voters that your candidate isn't Thurston Howell III. I'm just sayin'....

In other news, Mitt Romney is apparently now less popular than George "Dubya" Bush. That takes a real effort, in this day and age.

The Republicans are now grasping at two very thin straws as they survey the homestretch of the election. The first is that all those polls out there which are saying Romney is losing must be wrong, because of course Romney's going to beat Obama. Pollsters are all conspiring to hoodwink the public into believing Obama's got a healthy lead right now, you see. This somehow, inexplicably, includes pollsters from Fox News and Rasmussen, neither of which is generally thought of as part of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. But consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds... or something... it's hard to tell at this point. One can't help but wish that there were "professional referees" in the world of politics, as there now are in the National Football League (once again).

The second barely-graspable straw for the GOP is that once, a long time ago, a Republican challenger was down in the polls right before election day, and yet still won. The problem with this construct is that to duplicate this feat, we'd need the second coming of Saint Ronald of Reagan.

The only teensy problem with this fantasy is that Mitt Romney -- to put it mildly -- is no Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter, either, but conflating Romney with Reagan is just laughable even without examining the other side of the coin.

But enough of this frippery, let's get on with the show.


Speaking of football... two weeks ago in this column we highlighted the efforts of Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Klewe for jumping on (and wrestling violently to the ground in a superb metaphorical flying tackle filled with profanity) the anti-gay-marriage (and anti-First Amendment) idiocy spewing from a Democratic politician in Baltimore. Klewe is back in the news for challenging a Republican anti-gay-marriage politician to debate the subject. Now that would be a debate worth watching! For his outspoken campaign for equality, Chris Klewe is hereby awarded an Honorable Mention.

Speaking of profanity... yes, we're going to speak of profanity some more, and actually use some of it in the text. So if you're easily offended by that sort of thing, then just skip to the next section, or cover the children's eyes or whatever. You have been warned.

This week, the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes out to two people and an organization. The organization is the Jewish Council for Education and Research, and the two people are Adam Mansbach and Samuel L. Jackson.

Mansbach is, famously, the author of the parody of a children's book (which is for adults, obviously) Go The Fuck To Sleep. This book was a sensation when released, even more so when Samuel L. Jackson did the audio version (who else, really, could have done it?). The J.C.E.R. folks, earlier this year, contacted the author because they wanted to do a pro-Obama parody of the book as a political ad, and were kind enough to ask the author's permission to do so. The author's reaction was: "Forget about permission, I need to write this." With Mansbach on board, the book was rewritten as "Wake The Fuck Up," and the final piece fell into place when Jackson got on board to act and narrate the video.

The result is quite possibly the funniest political advertisement I have ever seen in my life. But then, I do have an awfully juvenile and vulgar sense of humor at times, so watch it for yourselves and make your own minds up (needless to say, the video is "not safe for work").

Mansbach isn't too worried about a backlash. When asked, his response was:

Of course there will be backlash; this is a political ad. Shit, there was a backlash when I published a fake children's book, you know? People sent me hate mail telling me, "I would never read this to a child!" Like, "Yeah, no shit. It says 'fuck' in the title!" So inevitably, I'm sure I'll get some hate mail. It will probably be very poorly written and badly spelled. Yeah, I have no doubt. But I also don't give a fuck.

Which is why our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes out to Adam Mansbach, Samuel L. Jackson, and the intrepid folks who came up with the idea at the Jewish Council for Education and Research.

Funniest. Political ad. Ever.

[Congratulate the Jewish Council for Education and Research on their contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]


Democrats, on the whole, have done a pretty good job putting up candidates for Congress this time around. With a few exceptions, of course.

One of these came to light this week, with the news that Brian Banks, candidate for the House of Representatives in Michigan, has been convicted of eight felonies in the past fifteen years, including writing bad checks and credit card fraud.

Not a whole lot needs to be added to that, really. Brian Banks is our walkaway Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week, for obvious reasons.

[The only contact information we could find for Brian Banks was his campaign website, which we do not link to as a general rule here, sorry.]


Volume 228 (9/28/12)

We're going to do something different today. We're going to get a jump on next week's big political story, the first presidential debate. The following are questions I would ask the two candidates if I were the moderator of a presidential debate. These aren't the most important questions, but are rather random. To be fair, I've included two each for each candidate alone, and three to ask to both candidates.

If you'd like to play along in the comments, feel free to propose your own debate questions for the candidates.


   Refereeing collective bargaining

To both Governor Romney and President Obama:

"Did you support the professional referees' right to strike and collectively bargain with the National Football League? Do you support other unions' rights -- teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses -- when it comes to such bargaining?"


   Droning on

To President Obama:

"It seems that the United States is preparing for an explosive growth in the use of unmanned drone aircraft in America's skies, including by police forces. What would you say to those citizens with privacy concerns about this new air traffic designed to spy on them? Do you think any new privacy laws will be needed to regulate the use of drone aircraft by police forces, or is this somehow not a valid concern? And please explain why you think so."


   The "average guy" gotcha

To Governor Romney:

"What is the price of the average college textbook these days? Or, how about: if you were forced to get a new set of tires for an American car which was ten years old, because the second steel belt was already showing through where the tread used to be, roughly how much should you expect to pay?"


   Money money money money...

To both Governor Romney and President Obama:

"This is the first presidential election which has happened after the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United. The amount of unlimited money being spent right now has reached unbelievable heights. Would you, as president, make it a priority to push for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United which stated simply that 'corporations are not persons' under the law? Why or why not?"


   Back in the alley again

To Governor Romney:

"When you first started your career in politics, you gave an answer in a debate with Senator Teddy Kennedy that I'd like to read to you. These are your words, sir, on the subject of abortion: 'Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.' Since that time, you have changed from being pro-choice to wanting to outlaw elective abortions for all women in this country. If you had your way, and the only legal abortions were allowed in cases of rape, incest, or the mother's life being in danger, then exactly how many American women per year would you expect to die as your close family relative did, from back alley or illegal abortions?"


   States' rights, anyone?

To President Obama:

"Three states -- Oregon, Washington, and Colorado -- have measures on their ballot this year which could legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults. Since you have admitted being a marijuana user in the past, and since your life seems to have turned out OK since you were never caught or sent to prison for doing so, how will your thinking on the marijuana question 'evolve' if one or more of these states legalizes it for the recreational use you enjoyed as a teenager? What will your personal reaction be, say, if Colorado legalizes marijuana? More to the point, what will your administration's official policy response be from your Justice Department?"


   Where are the specifics?

To President Obama and Governor Romney:

"Both of you have, quite rightfully, been attacked for not providing more specifics on what you would do for the American economy in the next four years. But America faces a crisis that is coming a lot sooner than 2016 -- at the end of this year, Congress will have to somehow fix the 'fiscal cliff' with some sort of agreement on taxes and spending. Assuming these negotiations take place through next spring (seeing as how the lame duck Congress will likely kick this can down the road for the next Congress to deal with), what will be your bargaining position in these talks? What -- very specifically -- will be 'red lines' for you which would cause you to reach for the veto pen? What things would you absolutely not agree to in these negotiations, and why? America deserves the answers to these questions, since it will likely be the first and biggest crisis the next president will face."


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