Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gotcha questions

Cain has repeated the "Gotcha Question" phrase recently.  The Republicans seem to think that reporters are supposed to be nice to them.   That "Gotcha Questions" are an unfair tactic - cheating, so to speak.

Nothing can be further then the truth.   So called Gotcha Questions are expected to be easily answered by the President - and therefore by presidential candidates. In fact there is no such thing as a "Gotcha Question" - as long as you are not a moron.   If you go back and check the questions that people claimed were "gotcha questions", you will see they are all very simple ones.  More importantly, we grade on a sliding scale and the Presidential job is the highest.  Presidents should be able to answer the toughest questions and come off looking good.  They don't have to be right, they don't have to even truly answer the question, but they should come out looking ... well presidential.  When faced with an unintelligible question,  "I feel your pain." works well.

It's OK for a president to not be smarter than everyone else.   He (or she) can hire geniuses.  But he should at the very least be a good politician.   The phrase "to play politics" means "to deal with people in an opportunistic, manipulative, or devious way, as for job advancement."    Half of the president's job is to "out talk" his opponent.  He needs to be able to give a speech and change people's minds.

But OK, lets pretend that I am wrong - that being President does not involve being able to out-talk other people.  We are still talking about people running in a primary, not a general election.  As in, if they win the primary, they still have to win the general election.  If you think the questions are troublesome now, wait till September and answer the questions the reporters ask then.

When you apply for a computer job, you can't complain about being given a test of your computer skills.  When you are applying for a job as a politician, you should be able to out-speak other world leaders and the head of the loyal opposition.   At the very least you need to be able to talk rings around an amateur.  Because that's all a reporter is.  Reporters are low level talkers, not experts.  The thing about writing is that it takes time.  You write it once, then edit and re-write. 

Politicians on the other hand have to get it right the first time.  Even an award winning reporter is an amateur compared to a politician.  Oh, a good reporter should be able to beat a low level (Congressman or lower). But President?

Cain, you want to know how to deal with reporters asking questions?  Instead of calling them dumb, try this:

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement."   You never heard Reagan complain about a "Gotcha Question".   

To Cain, Palin, and Bachman I have but one thing to say.

You are no Reagan. 

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