Above is Question 30 from CNN's Republican debate prior to the 2008 Presidential election. It was an absurd question about the candidates' stand on what the Confederate flag meant to them. The Confederate flag is of virtually no interest to modern conservatives, and so asking about it in a debate did nothing to illuminate the candidates positions and policies on any matter. All the question was -- particularly in an election a black man was running in -- was an attempt to tar conservatives by association with redneck extremist views.
Lately there have been a series of questions being put out by pundits that are equally as pointless and inflammatory as Question 30.
The New York Times editor Bill Keller recently asked a series of questions for the Republican concerning religion. Ignoring the pure hypocrisy asking these questions after previously declaring Reverend "God Damn America" Wright a matter of no interest, why even ask them? Is any Republican running on a religious ticket? Have we never had a President who belongs to some denomination or another in our history? Why ask them beyond the attempt to connect the candidates to some obscure theological doctrine Keller is fretting about?
My advice to the Republicans -- ignore his written questions and if somebody is stupid enough to ask those questions face to face mention the tolerance extended to Reverend Wright's whackadoodle theology and move on. One need not accept the framing of an obnoxious questions. Sectarianism is not of much interest to conservatives. Do not allow liberals to wallow in it without paying the price.
The Gormogons, in their post The Burden of Proof, point out another nonsensical leading question -- Jonathan Alter's challenge. As the Czar of Muscovy explains in the beginning of the post:
[Alter's Challenge:] "Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president? I’m not talking here about him as a tactician and communicator. We can agree that he has played some bad poker with Congress. And let’s stipulate that at the moment he’s falling short in the intangibles of leadership....
Your mission, Jim (and readers named something else), should you decide to accept it, is to identify where Obama has been a poor decision-maker. What, specifically, has he done wrong on policy? What, specifically, would you have done differently to create jobs? And what can any of the current Republican candidates offer that would be an improvement on the employment front?
I’m not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about your generalized “disappointment.”
I want to know, on a substantive basis, why you think he deserves to be in a dead heat with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and only a few points ahead of Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann in a new Gallup Poll. Is it just that any president -- regardless of circumstances and party -- who presides over 9 percent unemployment deserves to lose?"
And so the pundits have been preparing formal and lengthy responses, replies, and lists of examples.
The Czar has a different response: up yours.
Exactly. Just because somebody asks a stupid question doesn't mean you need to waste time answering it. The issues of interest are the economy, jobs, run-away growth of the government and regulatory abuse. Republicans need to brush aside rhetorical smoke screens and gotcha questions and concentrate on the issues.