As a guy who grew up watching Ron Ziegler dance around Nixon’s lies, and has observed (usually with horror) how people like Scott McClellan, Dana Perino, and their ilk dissemble and outright lie to the press, it occurred to me that there is a one way to demand answers from politicians:
Treat them like children.
I have two kids. Kids are past-masters at lying, deception, and attempts to change the subject. The only way that I personally have found to consistently get information is to not allow myself to be distracted. Like this:
“Who left this crap in the living room?”
“I haven’t been in the living room today.”
“That’s not what I asked. Did you leave this crap in the living room?”
“That’s not my stuff; it’s [other kid’s] stuff.”
“That’s not what I asked, either. Did you leave this crap in the living room?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“It doesn’t matter. Did you leave this crap in the living room?”
And so on. It’s a pain in the ass, yes, but eventually you find the culprit (granting that you are more stubborn than your kids which, in my case, is a good bet).
This is exactly how spokespeople, politicians, and their ilk should be treated. They don’t want to answer the questions they are asked in a straight-forward way? Fine; treat them like a 9 year-old. Keep asking the same question. Demand an answer to your first question. And if the spokesperson or politician won’t answer? Well, after 7 or 8 iterations of this, it will be obvious to all involved that they are dodging and lying, and their credibility will go down regardless. Either they answer or they look like idiots; either one is fine by me.
Consider the issue of torture. Just once, I wish a reporter had the balls to press and press and press Cheney:
“Mr. Vice-President, do we torture?”
“We have instructed our interregators to remain within the law at all times.”
“That’s not what I asked, sir. I asked you, do we torture?”
“As I said, we remain within the law.”
“Sir, water-boarding is considered torture by all civilized people. Do we torture?”
“I believe I have already answered that question.”
“No, sir, you haven’t; do we torture?”
“I cannot talk about sources and methods.”
“That wasn’t my question, sir. Do we torture?”
And so on. If these bozos want to act like 9 year-olds attempting to cover up the fact that they have been lighting fires in the back yard, then they should be treated the same way. Heck, I would even put them “in their room” (and cut off all external access) until they admit what they’ve done. It’ll be even funnier than those times politicians (and other jerk-wads, like Martin “let’s gouge people for AIDS medicine” Shkreli) keep repeating the same answer over and over, no matter the question.
I dunno; I guess I’m just feeling vindictive. I’m pretty tired of the Cavalcade of Clowns we’re stuck with on the Republican side, any one of which would be a disaster if President, and any one of which may actually end up President. As much as that horrifies and frightens me, it’s true. As true as the fact that the Republicans—despite having a “brand” so eroded that no voters will actually admit they are Republican—are in control of the House and Senate. (Go ahead; ask a random right-wing bloviator on Twitter or Tumblr or wherever if they’re a Republican. It’s always “No.” They’re “Libertarian”, or “Independent”, or whatever, even if they’ve never voted for anyone other than a Republican in their lives.) Which is plenty scary, too.
I’m not too thrilled with triangulation artist & “realist” Hillary Clinton, either, except that I know she’ll be better than anything the Republicans finally throw out there.
But for now, I’d settle for Meghan Kelly pinning down Trump or Rubio or Cruz and refusing to let up until she has an actual answer. Say, on wars.
“Senator, given the disastrous results of the Iraq War, why is it your foreign policy seems to only advocate more war?”
“Well, I don’t know as I’d agree with the premise.”
“Almost all Americans agree it was a disaster, so why do you advocate more war?”
“Meghan, the question is whether or not America is strong and a leader.”
“Actually sir, the question is why do you advocate more war?”
and so on.
I’m not holding my breath, though.