Monday, August 13, 2007

Presidential Candidates Deserve Hard Questions

"I'd welcome anybody in my campaign." (Mike Huckabee on CNN Monday morning)

I heard one TV analyst asking -- rhetorically -- why Governor Romney's five boys weren't in Iraq, given Mitt's position on the war. At first, I thought the question was unfair. Upon reflection, I believe the question is appropriate. (Duncan Hunter's son is in his third tour in Iraq, I believe.)

All candidates -- Democrat and Republican -- should be asked if they'll recommend that their children (or grandchildren) serve in the military. If not, why not?

I've (mildly) criticized Romney's son as the "Osmond Quintuplets," which is probably unfair. But the Iraq question -- phrased as to why none of them is in the military -- is fair.

Sarah Palin was asked (in Kuwait) if her 18-year-old son (Track) would join the military, and she said he's expressed interest in doing so. If he does, it will be with her blessing.

In my previous column, I suggested that Mike Huckabee (and other Republican candidates) be asked if they'd support the Republican ticket -- period. They should have to answer that question. Candidates who are Republicans-in-name-only will hedge on that issue. People committed to building the Republican Party will answer in the affirmative.

Some of the hardest questions should deal with abortion and health care. Specifically, other than asserting their pro-life position, what have they done to reduce the number of abortions -- and increase the number of adoptions? What other steps to those ends should local, state, and federal governments take?

On health care: when I sat down to write this piece, I read the following AP story: (Aug. 12) - "Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries. For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles. Countries that surpass the U.S. [in life expectancy] include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands."

The AP story also discusses infant mortality, saying: "Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia."

As an American, I find this situation totally unacceptable, and I hope all the serious candidates agree. I agree with the following statement: "Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries." That's the assessment by Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Dr. Murray says we have to get over the illusion that we have the "best health care" in the world. We don't. But given the vast amount of money we pour into health care, why not?

Some health questions for the candidates: Since we spend much more per capita on health care than any other nation, why do we perform so poorly in life expectancy and infant mortality? What is wrong with the health care system that produces such dismal results? What policies do they recommend to make the system better?

If candidates respond with talking points, the American people should tune them out. As a country, we need to demand a lot more of our doctors and hospitals, as well as of our politicians -- and ourselves. We also need to learn from other countries that spend much less on health care but get better results.

I don't care who asks the questions. They can come from Tim Russert, or a snowman on YouTube, or even a fortune cookie. However, we have to demand more from the people who aspire to be the nation's CEO.


gary said...

> However, we have to demand more from the people who aspire to be the nation's CEO.

Exactly how I see it. And the key is getting around mainstream media, where we traditionally learn very little. The youtube debates are a small start, although I could use more questions about nuclear proliferation and the national debt and less time devoted to snowman puppets.

Here's my contribution to the new world of internet campaigning...

It's basically just the existing youtube campaign videos, but sorted by issue for ease of comparison. I did it because nobody else was.


Stephen R. Maloney said...

Gary, what you did strikes me as a wonderful idea. In the Information Revolution, the big problem seem to be not getting totally buried in "information," much of which turns out to be unusable because of its sheer mass. You may turn out to the next "Google" of your generation. Thanks for visiting.

steve maloney

gary said...

Hi Steve, I don't know about the next google, but thanks for those very kind words...