16 questions for Dean

Posted: Dec 29, 2003 12:00 AM

The other Democratic candidates for president are beginning to challenge front-runner Howard Dean daily, asking questions about his positions and fitness for office. Here are the questions that they're not asking Dean, but should:

-- The U.N. Security Council in November 2002 unanimously passed Resolution 1441, giving Saddam Hussein "a final opportunity to comply." How do you interpret the phrase "final opportunity"?

-- You routinely say that the Berlin Wall came down without a shot. You mean without a shot excluding Korea, Vietnam and small wars throughout Latin America and Africa during four decades, right?

-- You say Osama bin Laden should be presumed innocent until a jury gets to decide his fate. Who do you think would best represent bin Laden at his trial, Johnnie Cochran or Mark Geragos?

-- You say the United States shouldn't have fought the Iraq War because Saddam did not present "an imminent threat" to the United States. Yet you supported wars in the 1990s in Bosnia and Kosovo. How exactly did Slobodan Milosevic pose an imminent threat to the United States?

-- You say that it was a mistake for the United States to go to war without the "permission" of the United Nations. For what other sovereign acts of the United States would you require U.N. "permission"?

-- You have said at various times that it would be irresponsible not to support President Bush's $87 billion funding request for the troops and reconstruction in Iraq, and that you opposed the $87 billion. What is your position right at this moment on the $87 billion? How about now? And ... now?

-- You quit the Episcopal Church because you thought its position on a Burlington, Vt., bike path was "not very Godlike." What is God's position on bike paths? Scriptural references would be helpful.

-- You say that the invocation before congressional sessions makes you uncomfortable. What phrase or sentiment makes you most uncomfortable from this passage from a recent invocation: "Help each of us to depend upon Your strength as we navigate life's challenging seas. May we trust the wonderful laws of sowing and reaping, knowing You will bring us an abundant harvest"?

-- You say that Republicans want to end public education. Education spending under Bush has increased 65 percent. How is that consistent with the alleged goal of ending public education?

-- Did you have any favorite ski spots during the Vietnam War?

-- In the North Korean crisis, the Bush administration is engaging in intense multilateral diplomacy to make North Korea's neighbors part of any settlement. You advocate that the United States instead cut out other countries to engage in direct talks with Pyongyang. What explains your burst of unilateralism?

-- Do you prefer your would-be Southern voters to fly the tasteful "stars and bars" that was the official flag of the Confederacy from March 1861 to May 1863, or the more familiar and popular Confederate battle flag?

-- You have at various times said you supported NAFTA, and said you opposed any agreement like NAFTA. You have both said, "NAFTA is here to stay," and advocated negotiating a "New Deal" with Mexico. What the hell?

-- You said recently that the Saudis might have tipped off the Bush administration prior to Sept. 11. Are there any other bizarre theories that you have picked up from the Internet that you would like to share at this time?

-- You say that Bush doesn't understand the needs of middle-class families. Yet your proposed full repeal of the Bush tax cut could, as some of your opponents point out, result in a $2,000 tax increase for a middle-class family of four. What do you understand about middle-class families' hunger for higher taxes that the rest of us don't?

-- If you had to choose your percentage of the popular vote in a general election right now, would you pick George McGovern's 37.5 percent, Walter Mondale's 40.5 percent or Michael Dukakis' 44.8 percent. Please round to the nearest single digit.