Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Questions That Politicians Must Hate

Office-seekers, in the process of political campaigns, are sometimes asked an "oh no!" or "oh s***!" type of question -- one in which there is no good answer, but only the opening of a can of worms.  We can never be sure of the motives of the questioner: they may be innocent, or driven by some agenda. 

Let's cite a few examples:  During the 2008 Presidential capaign, John McCain was asked what kind of popular music groups he liked.  When he answred "ABBA," some people just snorted with derision.  But if he answered "Limp Bizkit" or "The Insane Clown Posse," or "Rage Against the Machine," this would alienate his Republican base. 

Or what if he said, "Britney Spears"?  His answer would rise or fall in acceptability in relation to the location of her halter top.  Or what if his answer was "Eminem"?  He might get cool points for liking a white rapper, but he would lose points also.  My point is that on the music question, there are only wrong answers.

Similary, if he named some non-American performer.  What if he said "The Stones"?  While they're well-liked and he probably heard of them, they make no pretentions at being an American group.

Even Sarah Palin's apparently softball question regarding what newspapers she was supposed to have read is open to being loaded.  Let's face it: she would have gotten no points by answering "The San Francisco Examiner" of "The L. A. Times."  The safest answer, in my opinion, would be to mention the Anchorage newspaper.

Likewise, Bill Clinton supposedly was asked before a college audience whether he wore boxers or briefs.  Whatever was his answer, the audience was treated to this unpresidential mental image of the candidate in his undies, and he was diminished.  Unless his answer was "I go commando; my guys need room!"

Part of the election process is to be seen as an everyday Joe or Jane, and drinking a beer.  Even that is dangerous territory.  Remember the Beer Summit years ago?  This was a nice example of racial and social class reconciliation well-handled by President Obama, but he was criticized because the beer drunk was Red Stripe (Jamaican) and Blue Moon (Belgian) and not good American brews.

The question politicians don't like are those that polarize them in a manner not desired by the candidate; those in which the candidate has not had the luxury to think through the implications of his or her answers.  There are landmines out there; some unintentionally set.

Hillary Clinton deftly handled a question of that type when she was asked during her Senate campaign what she thought of the Mets?  Since she was running for the Senate for New York, the landmine was whether she was a Mets fan or a Yankees fan.  She pretended that she misunderstood the question, and that she was asked what she thought of The Met.  She was definitely on safer grounds there.


The Bastard King of England said...

Hillary seemed more like a regular at the Met than a fan of the Mets.

Meredith said...

It's those types of questions that show how well politicians think on their feet, though. They have their place.

Hell Hound said...

I think that Hillary was an evasive bitch and I like Bill.

Bilbo said...

I think politicians hate any question to which they are asked to give a definitive answer.

Mike said...

So tell us candidate Evil, have you stopped having sex with young teenage boys?

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Oh Jesus.

Anemone said...

That remark was uncalled for.