Saturday, November 10, 2007

Quiz Show

ABC News says a Hillary staffer may have tried to plant another audience question at an campaign event just a day after an earlier accusation.

Geoff Mitchell, a minister who recently moved to Hamilton, Ill., from Iowa, told ABC News that he was approached this spring by Clinton's Iowa political director Chris Haylor to ask Clinton a question about war funding....

The Clinton campaign confirmed to ABC News that Clinton's staffer and Mitchell did speak about a possible Iraq question.

"Chris Haylor and Geoff Mitchell knew each other and they started talking and the subject of Iraq came up," Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said, "and Chris suggested that he ask a question about Iraq."

So is this something to get upset about?

It's possible the practice of planting campaign audience questions has been going on for a long time. It may never have been considered newsworthy until the plethora of New Media outlets increased competition for the "scoop" and undermined the gatekeeping functions which may have kept practices like this under wraps.

But what's the harm in it? Isn't the practice of planting questions simply a way of systematically pushing policy questions to the head of the queue so that the candidate can answer it before an audience? After all both the question and answer are delivered publicly. Who cares that it was set up behind the scenes?

What offense is taken will probably stem from the subtle dishonesty inherent in the manipulation of the situation. When one attends a politically rally, those at Nuremberg excepted, it is with the expectation that audience events are unscripted. Spontaneous. When an ordinary person comes to such a rally it is under the impression that he is on an equal footing with everyone else in the hall with respect to the persons onstage. What a shock to discover that some are more equal than others.

Since the bandwidth at campaign question and answers is limited -- only a few can be entertained -- an arrangement to plant questioners essentially steals bandwidth from the rest of the audience by reserving part of it to claques, who are engaged to loft a policy volleyball so the candidate can spike it.

Politics has always been a stage. Voters know this. But they are sometimes lulled into believing there are unrehearsed events. And it's understandable if they are disappointed to learn those events are rehearsed as well. Stalin once derided Trotsky as "a common, noisy champion with faked muscles", implying that his own political muscles were real. Among politicians, how are we to know?


Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Not really,

When HowDea DoodDea was in our town (Howard Dean in Appleton WI) I was asked by the guy who was chairing the county Bush re-election committee to call in and ask him about something or another about his take on a farm bill.

Apparently, his position was not one the local farmers would appreciate. If opposition is trying to stack questions against a candidate, you can be sure the candidate & their supporters are doing so to favor their candidate.

What sets me off is the Claude Rains reaction when Republicans get caught at it.

11/10/2007 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Hiilary, what would you do to salvage the disasterous situation in Iraq, where the leaderless United States has lost billions of dollars to no good, except to the war profiteers like Haliburton, where oil production is down leading to exorbitant prices at our pumps, and socker moms can no longer afford baby sitters at bridge club time?

11/10/2007 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Hillary, is it true that everything you do and say is very tightly scripted?

11/10/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

The fact that outlets like ABC News are taking cheap shots at the Hildebeast may be more significant.

11/11/2007 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/11/2007 04:38:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Hillary does a lot of things that upset me, but this isn't one of them. Now, if she hired a disabled guy to play an Iraqi War veteran to ask an anti-bush question that would be another case.

The purpose of these town hall meetings is to make the candidate look good. Extemporaneous question answering is a skill that Bill Clinton excels at, and Hillary is terrible at. While fumbling on her answer about drivers licenses for illegals, she went back to her default option of blaming the Bush Administration for not addressing the immigration issue. Only an idiot would fail to realize that this same criticism applied to the previous Clinton Administration. Tim Russert would have scored a knockout blow if he had asked what her husband had done to address the problem. Russert either didn't think of this, or politely declined to pursue it.

By using preplanned questioned she can go straight to preplanned answers written by her speech writers and give the appearance of speaking eloquently and from her heart.

As long as they limit the plants to legitimate questions rather than political street theater ("Don't Taze me, Bro!!!"), then it becomes just one more way to get the message out.

11/11/2007 04:41:00 AM  
Blogger some said...

Why we might be concerned and why *Hillary* might be concerned are two different things here.

Hillary is very much threatened by these incidents because they play into maybe the most destructive counter-narrative of her candidacy: that she's a wholly-scripted robot whose very humanity has been replaced by ambition.

11/11/2007 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"What sets me off is the" absence of a "Claude Rains reaction when" Democrats "get caught at it."

Had to be said.

As to the Klintoons:

Hire an Arkansas machine politician, get an Arkansas machine politician...just remember that this one has Chicago provenance, '68 vintage I suspect.

11/11/2007 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger mouse said...

Doesn't matter if nothing matters. The American people are cows, they need to be fed and milked. It's our system: one man, one vote, once every four years; and in the interim government of the people by the better sort. No cow is going to complain about that.

Scripted questions and scripted answers are no problem, it's information, sort of. But the underlying manipulation is a real problem, because it's contempt; of the people, and of the whole concept of a free informed populace and democratic governance. A suitable contempt in response achieves some balance.

11/11/2007 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Scripted questions are the least of the problem, but indicative of the problem. More significant is almost complete media support and cover-ups for Clinton.

If Norman Hsu had been a Republican, that story of likely Chicomm money pouring into the Clintons would be front-page news for months. Remember Jack Abramoff? That guy was used to demonize the entire Republican party. Right after the Norman Hsu story fades, we hear of dishwashers in Chinatown donating big bucks to Hillary, and that immediately fades. And all this is on top of the record fines paid by Lippo, Loral and Hughes for previous Clinton-Chicomm chicanery.

Compare the treatment of Rudy for marrying 3 times with that of Bill Clinton for being a low-life scumbag you wouldn't even talk to if he was a member of your family.

The most egregious myth of all is the "Bush lied" bullshit. Bush carried over Tenet, Richard Clarke and the entire Clinton security position on Iraq, and suddenly it became a lie when Bush said the same things Clinton had said and acted upon, the same things Congress declared national policy with the Iraq Liberation Act and we bombed the hell out of Iraq to attack - Iraq's WMD's programs. If Bush "lied" on this one, then Copernicus and Galileo turned Aristotle into the same kind of "liar" with their advanced knowledge of the solar system long after Aristotle was gone.

After 5 years of booming economy, Bill Clinton is stumping with Hillary declaring that we have to get our economy back on track again. And half the country will believe this absurd falsehood.

The planted questions are the least of it with the Clintons.

11/11/2007 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk said...


"The American people are cows, they need to be fed and milked"

AND serviced--don't forget serviced.

Oh, wait, that's Bill's department, isn't it? Sorry...

11/11/2007 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I wonder if Bill required planted questions. My guess would be that no, he is fast enough on his feet not to need the crutch, but that yes, given the Carville political war machine that particular strategy was not overlooked. I'd bet further that that is where Hillary first observed and approved of the tactic.

But agree, too, that it's the hypocracy of the Dem's in boo-hoo-hooing over the planted question at the FEMA press conference that's the egregarious offense.

11/11/2007 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

Hillary Sets The Record Straight by Wuzzadem:

[Picture of Hillary holding a mic]

Now, I'd be glad to answer any questions.

[Picture of crowd]

Senator, the health care crisis in this country...

[Picture of Hillary holding a mic]

Yeah, yeah, there's probably something on my web site about that. How about you, in the back, miss? Did you have a question about the allegation that someone on my staff planted a question at my last town hall meeting?

[Picture of crowd]

Oh, right, um, were you aware someone in the crowd had been instructed to ask a specific question, or was this done without your knowledge, possibly by an overzealous staff member, and will it happen again?

[Picture of Hillary holding a mic]

That's a very good question. Let me be very clear - this is something that was done without my knowledge, by an overzealous staff member, and I assure you it will not happen again…

For the rest see: Hillary Clinton Sets The Record Straight

11/11/2007 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger amr said...

The FEMA fake questions by fake reporters do not seem to be much different than what supposedly has occurred maybe at two of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign appearances. The MSM did seem to take a harder line against FEMA’s actions though, but maybe it is just my perception. Anyway, I resent both attempts to sell something that smells of a disingenuous nature to the public. While the official of FEMA who rigged the news conference has been said to have lost a promotion, he should have been fired. As to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign fubars, no one seemly knows whether or not she actually knew beforehand of the efforts. But who has been disciplined for these actions? Or would levying punishment in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign cause unintended consequences; such as someone not going quietly into the night. Just asking!

11/11/2007 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb said...

To be the same as FEMA, Hillary will have to hold a town meeting where no one shows up and then and only then have her staff pretend to be voters asking questions.
The questions and answers would also have to tell us something we don't already know too.

11/11/2007 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb said...

Not that FEMA was a good idea but it was not exactly the same.

11/11/2007 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Part of the issue is the reaction by MSM to fake planted questions. Just because the questions were not exactly the same nor the question-askers the same doesn't really have anything to do with anything.

It's more of that equivalency thinking, trying to parse whether FEMA was worse than HIllary and concluding that they're equal -- just like Arab terrorists are the equal of American Marines to some minds.

11/11/2007 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

In the view of the so-called Mainstream media, there is little difference between terrorists and soldiers. That's why they are so willing to fall for hoaxers that prop up their view.

Mackubin Thomas Owens observes:
We remember well what critics of the Vietnam War said about the troops. In his infamous 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry said they had acted “in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan,” that they had “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads,” and done worse to civilians in the ravaged south. Kerry’s organization, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), wrote in a September 1970 flyer:

If you had been Vietnamese —

We might have burned your house
We might have shot your dog
We might have shot you
We might have raped your wife and daughter
We might have turned you over to the government for torture
We might have taken souvenirs from your property
We might have shot things up a bit
We might have done all these things to you and your whole town

And to this day, critics of that war invoke the specter of My Lai to prove that atrocities were widespread in Vietnam.

11/12/2007 11:00:00 AM  

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