Even for her, Hillary Clinton showed tremendous skill at batting aside questions asked of her on the Sunday shows this past weekend and giving, instead, her standard talking points. Pinning this lady down is admittedly not easy. Two of the best interviewers on political TV — Chris Wallace and Tim Russert — asked tough questions but got scripted and memorized retorts for their pains. But here are some questions (along with follow-ups) that I suggest they ask during the next round of Sunday shows — if she ever goes back on the circuit.
• Bill Clinton refused to accept political action committee (PAC) contributions in his campaigns of 1992 and 1996. Obama and Edwards are following his example. Why aren't you?
• After all the bad experiences you had with Johnnie Chung and Charlie Trie and their campaign donations in the 1996 election cycle, why were you not more careful in vetting the donations generated by Norman Hsu? Didn't you learn your lesson in 1996?
(As a follow-up to No. 2) After you found that you had to return almost a million dollars to the donors bundled by Hsu, you said you would be more vigilant in examining the backgrounds of donors. Why didn't you come to that conclusion before the Hsu scandal, based on your 1996 experiences?
• Norman Hsu was no ordinary donor. He was the biggest bundler in your campaign; he gave funds to the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton School of Government in Arkansas and took Patti Solis Doyle, your campaign manager, and other aides on an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas. He also donated to Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, whose campaign debt you agreed to help repay. In view of his high profile in your campaign, why didn't you check him out more thoroughly, and what does this say about your ability to make quality appointments?
• You base your healthcare proposal on the need to cover 47 million "uninsured Americans." Since about a third of them are illegal immigrants and another third are eligible for Medicaid right now and just don't apply for it, aren't you overstating the problem?
(As a follow-up to No. 4) In 2005 you co-sponsored legislation to provide health insurance to the children of illegal immigrants who have lived in this country for five years. In other words, their children would get subsidized healthcare under the State Children's Health Insurance Program as a reward for dodging the cops for five years. Do you still support that proposal?
• You say that your healthcare proposal will leave alone those who are happy with their current insurance. But if you provide health benefits for close to 50 million new people, thereby generating huge new demand for medical care without any increase in the supply of doctors, nurses or hospitals, it will drive up prices radically. Won't that force you to institute cost controls by limiting the care those now on health insurance can receive?
• In Arkansas, you achieved fame by urging mandatory testing for teachers and demanded that those who failed the competency tests be dismissed. You and your husband did this and implemented this policy. As a result, he was denied the endorsement by the Arkansas Teachers Union during his time as governor. Do you still support your proposal of 1983 and 1984 for mandatory teacher competency tests for current teachers — not just for new ones?
• In Arkansas, you pioneered the idea of testing students to ascertain their progress and holding schools accountable for any shortcomings in their test scores. Now California Democratic Congressman George Miller, chairman of the House Education Committee, wants to change the No Child Left Behind Act to substitute graduation rates for test scores as the measure of a school's performance. Opponents say this is injecting a non-objective standard and undercuts the whole purpose of the legislation. Do you support Miller's proposal?
There's more, but we've run out of time! I hope that the journalists who next have Clinton in their sights read this column, take notes and act on it. The answers to these questions would be nice to have before we elect her president.