A Few Comments on Tonight’s Format
Posted by James Lamond
Tonight’s debate had a format that I found a little puzzling. Essentially it was high-level and well-connected conservative wonks asking conservative candidates questions about conservative policy positions. I understand that this is the the GOP primary and conservative voters are the audience. However, many of questioners are individuals that either have worked or are likely to work in a Republican administration. There is inherently a conflict of interest in this relationship. Worse yet the construction of many of the questions provided a clear answer within the question.
For example Ed Meese, the former Republican Attorney General asked:
At least 42 terrorist attacks aimed at the United States have been thwarted since 9/11. Tools like the Patriot Act have been instrumental in finding and stopping terrorists. Shouldn't we have a long range extension of the investigative powers contained in that act so that our law enforcement officers can have the tools that they need?
And Danielle Pletka, Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute asked:
Yesterday the United States and the U.K. slapped new sanctions on Iran. But we haven't bought oil directly from Iran in over 30 years. We've had targeted sanctions on Iran for more than half that time.
Nonetheless, Iran is probably less than a year away from getting a nuclear weapon. Do you believe that there is any set of sanctions that could be put in place that would stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?
Admittedly, not all of the questions were quite as leading or as troubling as above. However, there was a general trend and the format does seem a little strange.
The more important question on process, however, is how did Paul Wolfowitz get to ask a question?