September 15, 2004,
Here's a second set of questions the media should pose to John Kerry (for the first, click here). The same premises apply as in the first set: only policy-related questions; nothing to do with the Swifties (who've since posed their own set of questions); no "gotcha" questions; several softballs; and, all posed in a respectful manner:
1. You've repeatedly demanded Donald Rumsfeld's resignation over Abu Ghraib prison abuse. In light of such demand, please respond to the following:
a. Given your confession that you committed atrocities in Vietnam, including burning villages and using 50-caliber machine guns on people, shouldn't you, then, withdraw from presidential consideration?
b. If your answer is "no," please explain why a secretary of Defense should be held to a higher standard than an aspiring president who personally committed atrocities objectively more horrific than the abuses for which you hold Rumsfeld accountable.
2. You now state that Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," yet just a few weeks ago you stated that knowing what you know now you'd still authorize the war. Why would you still vote for a war that is wrong?
a. If the war was wrong, do you maintain Saddam should still be in power? If not, how would you remove him?
b. Which of the following is your primary objection to the Iraq war:
(1) that it shouldn't have been fought?
c. If your answer's either (2) or (3) above, where should the war have been fought and when?
3. During your eight-year tenure on the Senate Intelligence Committee, you missed more than three-fourths of its public meetings. You refuse to release your attendance reports for the committee's closed classified briefings. Why shouldn't voters infer that disclosure of these attendance reports would reveal that you neglected to attend numerous classified briefings?
a. If you did miss any classified briefings, what duties were you tending to that were more important than attending the briefings?
4. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the president lied about the reasons for going into Iraq. Presumably, this means that the intelligence data didn't support the reasons given by the president. You had the same intelligence data on Iraq as the president, yet you voted to authorize the war. Why, then, did you knowingly vote for a lie?
a. By doing so, didn't you also lie to the American people?
b. If so, will you, therefore, urge your supporters to stop running ads declaring that "Bush Lied"?
c. If you maintain that you didn't lie, is it because you neglected to read the intelligence reports prior to the vote?
5. Assuming your definition of a lie is the same as Webster's, i.e., a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive, please specifically identify which of the following statements in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address are lies:
a. Saddam aids and protects terrorists;
b. Saddam has used weapons of mass destruction;
c. Saddam deceived weapons inspectors;
d. Saddam sought uranium from Africa;
e. Saddam has pursued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
6. What do you consider to be your most important accomplishment as lt. governor to Michael Dukakis?
7. You've criticized the president for acting "unilaterally." As president, would you have gone into Afghanistan without France's approval?
a. Would you have gone into Afghanistan without the approval of France, Germany, and Russia?
b. Please describe your criteria for going to war.
8. You've stated you would appoint only pro-choice judges to the federal bench. Would you agree that, even if it's not your intent, such a litmus test could disproportionately disqualify Catholic nominees?
9. Do you think there's waste in the federal government? If so, could you kindly identify ten wasteful government programs that you'd eliminate and why?
10. What do you consider to be your most important accomplishment during your nearly 20 years as a senator?
11. You once entertained supporting charter schools but backed off after teachers' unions objected. You were once critical of affirmative action but backed off after some civil-rights organizations protested. In June you stated you might appoint some pro-life judges but backed off the next day after abortion-rights groups expressed alarm. Could you please take this opportunity to assure voters that you'll be able to handle North Korea, al Qaeda, and Iran more successfully than you're able to handle the NEA, NARAL, and other interest groups?
12. Newsweek Editor Evan Thomas has stated that the media wants you to win and that the media's help is worth 15 points in the polls. Do you agree or disagree with Thomas's statement?
a. If you disagree, is it because you maintain that the media doesn't want you to win or because the advantage is other than 15 points?
13. During a Labor Day rally in West Virginia one of the principal speakers, in your presence, called President Bush and Vice President Cheney draft dodgers. Do you agree that Bush and Cheney are draft dodgers? If not, why didn't you correct your supporter?
14. You maintain that public schools aren't adequately funded. The D.C. public schools spend approximately $13,000 per pupil one of the highest levels in the nation yet its students' academic performance is among the worst in the nation. Could you please explain why you oppose parental choice in education?
a. Given that pursuant to court order the Kansas City public schools spent one billion dollars with no discernable improvement in academic performance, what is your definition of "adequately funded"?
15. In your convention speech, you stated that every terrorist attack would be met with an immediate response and you've also stated that you would emphasize a law-enforcement approach to the fight against terrorism. This is identical to the pre-9/11 U.S. approach to terrorism. Could you please explain how a pre-9/11 approach to terrorism will prevent another 9/11?
a. Please describe the lessons you've learned from 9/11.
16. You've repeatedly criticized President Bush for "rushing to war." Since you've conceded that knowing what you know now you'd still authorize the war, precisely when would you have begun the Iraq war?
17. You also criticize the president for going to war "without having a plan to win the peace." You've stated that "winning the peace" would require more troops but you voted against the $87 Billion bill to fund the troops who are already there. Could you please explain how you would've deployed more troops had your vote against funding prevailed?
a. "Knowing what you know now," would you have voted in favor of the $87 billion in funding?
b. In other words, do you now regret voting against the funding bill after voting for it?
18. During the Democratic primary debate in Greenville, South Carolina, in January, you claimed that the administration had exaggerated the terror threat.
a. Who exaggerated the threat? When? Please supply specific examples of the exaggerations.
b. If the threat has been exaggerated, does this mean that as president you'd reduce intelligence funding and defense spending in proportion to the "actual" threat? If not, why would you overspend?
19. The guards at Abu Ghraib prison forced prisoners to, among other things, disrobe and wear women's underwear in order to humiliate and demoralize them. Former American POWs claim that their North Vietnamese captors forced them to listen to your 1971 Senate testimony recounting alleged U.S. war crimes in order to humiliate and demoralize them. Could you please distinguish your actions from those of the Abu Ghraib guards?
a. If you assert that the difference between your actions and those of the Abu Ghraib prison guards was that you didn't intend your testimony to humiliate and demoralize American POWs, do you at least concede that your actions were reckless and irresponsible?
20. It was well known by the time of your 1971 Senate testimony that North Vietnam used statements by Jane Fonda and other antiwar protesters as propaganda. At the time of your testimony did you consider that it was highly likely that the statements of a naval lieutenant alleging war crimes would also be used?
Journalists are still welcome to use any of the above. You'll have several opportunities in the next two months. Indeed, it would be journalistic malpractice if Kerry weren't at least asked, at a forum likely to be seen by a large segment of the electorate, why, in light of his admitted war atrocities, he should be commander-in-chief.
Peter Kirsanow is...still not holding his breath.