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A Few Debate Questions

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By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

With the final presidential debate scheduled for Wednesday and the previous two having revealed absolutely nothing about the candidates, I have taken it upon myself to suggest some questions for CBS's Bob Schieffer, who will do the moderating chores. I assure you that the candidates have not seen the questions in advance; nor, when the time comes, will they want to answer them. I flipped a coin and Barack Obama goes first.

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Senator Obama, you are sooooooooo cool. Can you tell us, please, the last time you lost your temper and what about? You have two minutes.

Senator McCain, I'd like to ask you why you've attacked Senator Obama for associating with the former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, even though you have befriended G. Gordon Liddy, who was jailed for what amounts to subversion of the Constitution. Liddy also once told his radio listeners to deal with agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms by shooting them -- "a head shot," he recommended. What's the difference between Liddy and Ayers? Take as much time as you want.

Senator Obama, did you ever tell Bill Ayers to his face that what he did was wrong?

Senator McCain, I have a question regarding Sarah Palin: How could you?

Senator Obama, in 2007, your former church and its then-minister honored the Reverend Louis Farrakhan, an anti-Semite. Why didn't you say something in protest? Have you ever heard the Latin dictum "Qui tacet consentire videtur," silence is consent?

Senator McCain, what lessons should we have learned from the Iraq war? Should it have been fought? Should we have stuck to Afghanistan? What are our limits as a great power?

Senator Obama, if your plan for troop withdrawal in Iraq had been adopted, the U.S. troops would now be almost out of the country. That being the case, what do you think we'd have there now? Civil war? A peaceful country? An Islamic republic next door in Jordan?

Senator McCain, do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if history will forgive you for Sarah Palin?

Senator Obama, do you ever wake up in the middle of night for anything?

Senator McCain, with the situation in Afghanistan worsening, why don't we switch our troops right away from Iraq, which didn't attack us, to the country from where Osama bin Laden and his Taliban supporters did?

Senator Obama, given the problems facing our country -- a worldwide financial crisis; a looming recession; the prospect of nukes in Iran and North Korea; and Pakistan, which already has nukes, coming apart -- isn't it reckless of you to think that, at your young age, with your limited experience, you can manage it all?


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