By Todd Gitlin
This is the third in my Questions Reporters Should Ask series, which I kicked off three weeks ago with eight for Mike Huckabee and followed with eight more for Barack Obama. As I wrote earlier, my goal with this series is to highlight questions that, to my mind and to the best of my research, the press has not asked (or at least not asked often or insistently enough). I’ll be posing questions for other candidates going forward. Next up: Hillary Clinton.
1. In response to a question about your wife staying home and raising your children, you once said: “I actually think that motherhood is a profession. It’s one which is challenging, it’s demanding. I think it requires being a psychologist, a psychoanalyst, an engineer, a teacher.” Yet you have also proposed that welfare recipients (including mothers) be required to work “immediately.” If they are already working at their “profession,” why?
2. You support abstinence-only sex education. In the first study of multiyear abstinence programs, Mathematica, a nonpartisan research firm, found that “the programs had no effect on the sexual abstinence of youth,” and that they neither increased nor decreased condom use. At least ten states refuse federal abstinence-only funding from the Bush Administration. Why do you support abstinence-only?
3. Do you believe there is widespread voter fraud that justifies states requiring every would-be voter to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot? What is the evidence for your claim?
4. Do you support the Bush Doctrine, which declares that “America will act against emerging threats before they are fully formed”? If so, how do you address the declining confidence in America that is manifest almost everywhere in the world during the Bush years? Or do you believe that it does not matter?
5. Last year, you wrote in Foreign Affairs: “The next president should commit to spending a minimum of four percent of GDP on national defense.” This is approximately what the U.S. spends now. In 2005, the U.S. military budget exceeded the sum spent in the next fourteen countries combined. Military spending (not counting the Iraq and Afghanistan operations, veterans’ affairs, and off-the-books operations) accounts for more than half of federal discretionary spending. What, specifically, would you change in American military spending, and why?
6. In the same article, you wrote: “Today, among our main challenges are an Iranian regime and an al Qaeda network that developed while we let down our defenses.” Did American policy toward Iran and Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s have anything to do with the development of these challenges?
7. What lessons have you learned from the Iraq invasion? Follow-up: Why didn’t you know those before the invasion?8. In one debate, you said: “I don’t want [terrorists] on our soil. I want them on Guantánamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers that they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons….Some people have said we ought to close Guantánamo. My view is we ought to double Guantánamo.” Do you have any evidence that Guantánamo has averted any terrorist attacks? How would you address our allies who disagree about the merits of Guantánamo?
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