If Charlie Gibson Purports to be a Serious Journalist, Here are Some Questions to Ask Sarah Palin

Charlie Gibson, the journalist personally selected by the McCain/Palin campaign to conduct the first interview of Palin since her nomination, has said that questions about Palin's family are off-limits. Does that mean that he will ask Palin serious questions about issues? Or will he follow her around Alaska for 2 days for a Barbara Walters-style personality piece in which viewers get to tour places like the high school gym where she played basketball and the Wasilla City Hall where she served as small-town mayor, and Gibson serves up softball questions with no follow up?

If Gibson has any self-respect as a journalist, here are some questions that would give Palin a chance to show voters whether she has given any real thought to the serious Foreign Policy and Domestic issues which will face the nation in the coming years.

• If you and John McCain are elected and John McCain were to become sick or die in the next year, what experiences qualifies you to negotiate with adversaries like Ahmadinejad and Medvedev/Putin, or allies like Maliki, Merkel or Sarkozy?

• Sen. McCain says that the surge has brought the US near victory in Iraq. Please describe what victory would look like and how will we know when it has been achieved?

• The Sunni Awakening, which has helped defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, consists of approximately 100,000 armed militia members who have been paid over $300 million in salaries by the US military. Maliki's Shiite-dominated government proposes disbanding the Sunni Awakening and absorbing only a few thousand of its members into the Iraqi army. Do you agree with Prime Minister Maliki? Are you concerned that the remaining 90,000 or so armed members of the Sunni Awakening who will soon be unemployed will reawaken the insurgency and lead to increased violence?

• American military leaders in Afghanistan say that the military situation there is declining and we need more troops there to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda. President Bush has proposed sending about 7,000 more troops to Afghanistan 5 months from now. Do you think this is enough or soon enough? If not, how many more troops would you send, when would you send them, and where would they come from?

• The United States has supported the secession of the small country of Kosovo from Serbia. If the people of South Ossetia voted to secede from the Republic of Georgia, would you support their right to do so?

• If sanctions and diplomacy are not sufficient to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, would you support military action against Iranian nuclear facilities? Would this be strictly an air war? Would you support using ground troops? Would you consider using bunker busting tactical nuclear weapons?


• It was announced on Wednesday that the 2008 Federal Deficit will reach a near-record of approximately $407 billion. You and John McCain have said that you are mavericks who will shake up Washington. You have also said that you won't raise taxes. Name 3 Federal government programs which you would cut and how much would you cut them by? How big an impact would this have on the Federal Deficit?

• The trustees of the social security estimate that by 2017 the social security system will be paying out more than it is taking in and will have to start tapping the social security trust fund. By 2040 there will only be enough revenues to pay 74% of projected benefits. Barack Obama has proposed that starting in about 10 years, citizens making over $250,000 would be asked to make an additional contribution of 2%-4% to make up the difference. Do you support increasing social security taxes or cutting benefits at some point, or do you have a different plan for saving social security?

• You have said that you are not sure if global warming is caused by human activity. John McCain believes it is and is proposing a cap and trade system to limit greenhouse gases which would create an economic cost on business. If it is unclear to you if global warming is caused by human activity, is John McCain right to impose such a cost on business?

• If you or John McCain get to appoint one or more Supreme Court Justices and Roe v. Wade is overturned, would you support states passing laws such as the one recently defeated in South Dakota, which would criminalize abortion, even in cases of rape or incest?

• John McCain supports taxing the value of health insurance the people get from their employers, which for the typical family is worth about $10,000. Do you consider that a tax increase? He also suggests a tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to buy private insurance. Is that enough for individuals and families to buy a good insurance policy? What would you and John McCain do for people who are denied private insurance because of pre-existing conditions?

Of course I wouldn't expect serious questioning from Gibson. More likely we'll get Barbara Walters like questions such as "if you were a flower, what kind of flower would you be?"