Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Questions for the Debates ; What Would You Ask Gore or Bush? Here's Our List

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Questions for the Debates ; What Would You Ask Gore or Bush? Here's Our List

Article excerpt

Mr. Moderator of the presidential debates, here are questions we would ask of both Al Gore and George W. Bush:

Question No. 1: You two have prepared long and hard for this debate, both in what you will say and how you will say it. Now that you're on stage, tell us where you are weakest regarding the big issues, your government record, or even the way you come across on television.

Our aside: Leadership requires the humility to be aware of your weak points. Being a good president means leveling with the people on where you need help. We can judge whether you're being authentic in answering this question. We wish someone had asked this of Bill Clinton in 1992.

Question No. 2: To win this race, you both have promised many new government programs requiring either more spending or tax credits. Yet, Bill Clinton has declared an "end to the era of big government," echoing his two Republican predecessors. So which way is the US headed: more central government or less?

Our aside: Not every national social problem needs a national solution. America is great largely due to creative solutions in states and localities. Yet Washington seems to be where the money is. Are your fiscal and tax promises just a way to win votes from narrow interests, while you really want less, not more federal involvement in people's lives?

Question No. 3: By its strength and by default, America is being pushed to lead the world. Yet, many Americans are reluctant to do so. What is your checklist of priorities that would come before deploying soldiers abroad for purposes other than protecting our shores?

Our aside: No decision can be tougher for a president. Should such missions be done with allies or the United Nations? And can you persuade Americans to risk lives for a cause other than defense?

Question No. 4: Voters want a president who's a moral example as well as a government leader. At least two of the past six presidents tried to hide falsehoods that jeopardized their jobs. Why would you be any different?

Our aside: Liars can't be leaders, yet lies by politicians have created a cynical, apathetic voting public. …

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