Curiouser and Curiouser

Posted: Jul 27, 2007 12:00 AM
Curiouser and Curiouser

There were a few good moments watching the CNN/YouTube Democrat debate, but the real story is about moments that never happened. It appears that Senator Clinton got a pass on the questions that everyone should be asking her. Then to top it off, no candidate was asked about the most important issue for the next president.

The debate showcased an assortment of the most unproductive questions I’ve ever heard, such as telling us who their favorite teacher was as a child, and spending far too much time letting them prance down memory lane. Those questions belong on a human-interest talk show interview, not on a national debate. They were a colossal misuse of time, with no bearing on who is fit to lead America.

But there were some good questions that a frontrunner should answer. When the first one was asked, I wondered what Mrs. Clinton would say. But it wasn’t given to her. Curious, I thought. Then a second tough question was asked, and again she was not quizzed. Remembering a children’s book, I thought, curiouser. Then the third tough question came, and again was directed elsewhere. Curiouser and curiouser.

There’s a scene early in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” where Alice starts to grow and becomes bewildered as her head bumps the ceiling and her feet look farther away. Bewildered, Alice cried, “Curiouser and curiouser!” That’s what the debate became as you realize what Hillary was not asked.

Sure, she got confrontational questions. But they’re questions on which most Democrats are united — minimum wage, condemning Iraq. We know where the Democrats stand on those issues, and she gives them what they want.

But what about the things that deeply divide Democrats? What about the questions for which the base wants to hear one thing but general election swing voters want to hear another? Why wasn’t she asked those questions?

Here are the questions that Mrs. Clinton must be required to answer:

First, she previously said her position on same-sex marriage was “evolving.” That’s refusing to take a position. What is her position on same-sex marriage, and also on de facto same-sex marriage, meaning a broad, comprehensive civil union that is indistinguishable from marriage? And if she supports one but not the other, why? What’s the difference?

Second, what is her position on guns? Vice President Gore and Senator Kerry both got pummeled by gun owners for opposing Second Amendment rights and freedoms. Does Hillary believe that the Second Amendment secures the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase and possess firearms?

And third, what is her view of religious freedom? What is her view of the role of faith and religion in public life?

What I find most interesting about those three topics — all of which were asked to other candidates during the debate — is that they’re about social issues. Howard Dean complained in 2003 that he was tired of having to deal with voters about “guns, God and gays.”

That’s one way of summing up those three questions that Mrs. Clinton did not answer. Any answer acceptable to the liberal Democrat base would hurt Hillary in the general election. She should have to answer them now.

There’s a fourth question that no one asked her. She voted to start this war. She now says that she’d keep troops in Iraq to achieve certain objectives. Governor Bill Richardson says Hillary’s plan requires 50,000 troops to stay. But then she voted to cut off funding for the troops in harm’s way in battle right now.

How many troops would Hillary keep in Iraq, for how long, and how can she say some troops should stay but vote against the funding those troops need to keep fighting? She promised to never vote against troop funding, then when Senator Obama voted against funding, she mimicked his vote. She’s trying to have it both ways.

And finally, there is one question no one was asked: How would you fight radical jihadists and their global network of terrorists? It is patently absurd that not a single question was asked of any candidate about how they would deal with the deadly menace of global terrorism.

Curiouser and Curiouser.

I won’t say there’s a vast left-wing conspiracy to save her from all the hard questions. I’m not going to say that CNN is trying to save her from having to answer questions that divide Democrat voters.

But these are questions that should have been asked of the frontrunner, and they weren’t.

The next official Democrat debate is right around the corner. The hosts of that debate should make sure they get to those questions.

Regarding the first three questions, Americans deserve to know if a frontrunner who desires to be our next president stands with mainstream social values, or the values of the far Left.

Regarding the last two questions, we are in an existential fight for survival. After September 11, no one doubted the global threat of radical jihadists. Yet we’ve grown complacent.

We are in a war that will be raging when you and I have passed on. The lives of our children and grandchildren are endangered by this radical and lasting menace.

These are the questions that should have been put to Senator Clinton. The next debate must put them front and center.