The following is the second post in my Questions Reporters Should Ask series, which I kicked off three weeks ago with Eight Questions Reporters Should Ask Mike Huckabee. As I wrote earlier, my goal with this series is to highlight questions that, to my mind and to the best of my research, the press has not asked (or at least not asked often or insistently enough) of, in this case, the Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama. I’ll be posing questions for other candidates going forward. Next up: Mitt Romney.
Questions for Barack Obama
1. In June 2006 you voted against the Kerry-Feingold amendment that would have set a deadline of July 2007 for the withdrawal of almost all U. S. forces from Iraq. But in January 2007, you supported a deadline, proposing to begin redeploying troops by May 1, 2007, with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008. Why did you change your mind about the desirability of setting a deadline for withdrawal?
2. At October’s Democratic debate in Philadelphia, you said: “We are committed to Iran not having nuclear weapons,” and that “there may come a point where [diplomatic] measures have been exhausted and Iran is on the verge of obtaining a nuclear weapon, where we have to consider other options.” Is preventive war with Iran one of those options?
3. You have said: “We must lead by marshalling a global effort to stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons.” Toward that end, would you support a nuclear test ban treaty, and if so, how would you win a two-thirds vote of the Senate for it?
4. Many experts have taken issue with your health insurance proposal because it includes a requirement
of coverage—a “mandate”—for children and not adults. Proponents of a mandate for all argue that universal coverage cannot be attained without it. You have called a health insurance mandate an attempt to “force” people to buy insurance. Are you opposed to all government attempts to force people to do things they’d rather not do—for example, pay taxes? If not, why draw the line at a health insurance mandate?
5. On a related topic, you have said that medical costs must come down, and propose to bring them down by reducing paperwork and increasing competition among insurance and drug companies. Do you really believe that such measures are sufficient to bring down medical costs?
6. You have said that you are a member of the “Joshua generation,” whose challenge is to complete the work of the “Moses generation,” specifically with respect to the rights of African-Americans. Why, then, do you criticize Hillary Clinton and others who, you say, have “been fighting some of the same fights since the ’60s?”
7. Republicans have lately taken drastic steps against what they say is a plague of voter fraud. Indiana now requires every would-be voter to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot. If the Supreme Court upholds that requirement, other states may pass or strengthen similar laws. What is your view of the prevalence of such voter fraud, and what should be done about it?
8. Nearly five million Americans—some 2% of the American electorate—cannot vote today because of they have been convicted of felonies. In this regard the US is unusual among the world’s democracies, which think that the rights of citizenship should be restored once a felon has served his or her sentence. Do you agree that former felons should regain the right to vote?
[Thanks to Michael Meyer and Mark Crispin Miller for suggestions and research.