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[Richard Painter, guest-blogging, March 25, 2009 at 11:57am] Trackbacks
Taking Questions:

I understand the President is taking questions from the public on the WHO web site. I encourage everyone to log on and ask. You might get an answer.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/03/24/Open-for-Questions-President-Obama-to-Answer-Your-Questions-on-Thursday/

What we really need by the way is something like the Prime Minister's question time in the House of Commons. I have never seen anyone as good as Prime Minister Blair at the art of ducking. Even President Clinton. Admittedly, the back benchers are very rude, but a good Prime Minister can take it and the whole episode is great entertainment.

GD:
I would assume that the White House has notified in advance those news outlets citizens it will be accepting questions from and the rest of us are just wasting our time.
3.25.2009 12:24pm
RPT (mail):
The CSPAN Parliament broadcasts are great entertainment, and it does reflect well on the system to have leaders who can actually think on their feet. For the Obama critics, teleprompters are not helpful in such circumstances. Is there any question that the Obama Town Hall questioners are pre-screened or plants as was the case during the Bush era?

Can we have a question time for Mr. Lindgren about his new thesis that cartels of blue collar workers caused the Depression?
3.25.2009 12:33pm
Houston Lawyer:
Margaret Thatcher was the one to watch for this. She didn't duck, but used cricket bats, skillets and/or rapiers to counter attack the questioners with verve and force of personality.
3.25.2009 12:49pm
Anderson (mail):
Yes, it's difficult to imagine a Dubya as President in a system with "question time."

Rightly or wrongly, it seems that even relatively mediocre intellects in Britain can muster much better language than their American counterparts. It's as if they invented the language.
3.25.2009 12:51pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
All past efforts that I'm aware of that have used the same voting system have been little more than shams that allow weak questions to rise to the top. But, maybe if we repeat the same thing one more time we'll have a different result.

Examples of past shams are here. That also briefly describes a better solution: anyone who's run a blog or been a pundit for more than six months or so can sign up to be a judge. (Anyone means anyone, not just some select group). And, all their votes will be public. So, if someone from volokh.com votes up an ObamaGirl video and votes down a tough legal question that he doesn't want Obama asked (just as an example), that person will lose a little credibility.

That's the only way to ensure that the best questions rise to the top, and it's obvious that those who put on these events aren't interested in that happening but instead are just putting on a show.
3.25.2009 1:30pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
What we really need by the way is something like the Prime Minister's question time in the House of Commons. I have never seen anyone as good as Prime Minister Blair at the art of ducking. Even President Clinton. Admittedly, the back benchers are very rude, but a good Prime Minister can take it and the whole episode is great entertainment.


I couldn't disagree with you more, if anything, adopting the British style of "question time" would only further degrade our political system by putting an even higher premium on a candidate's ability to "duck questions" and deliver empty sound bites over abilities that make them effective leaders and competent governors.
3.25.2009 3:17pm
kietharch (mail):
"that even relatively mediocre intellects in Britain can muster much better language than their American counterparts. It's as if they invented the language" Anderson, you spoke my mind.

It's embarrassing for an American to see how well the British PMs handle these exchanges. Some of the questions and comments are no doubt anticipated and prepared for but I disagree with those above who focus on "ducking"; all the British PMs from Thatcher to Blair (haven't yet seen Brown) parried comments brilliantly and, nearly always, without avoiding the issue.

The British PM does not hesitate to engage the thought behind the question, to challenge assumption. I think Obama has done that once or twice but Bush never did. I can't remember Clinton's performance very well in that regard but I think he and Reagan were the best of the recent era. Neither compares well with Tony Blair or Maggie Thatcher.
3.25.2009 3:56pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
IIRC, John McCain proposed during the campaign that he would take questions from Congress like the British PMQs. I have this feeling, however, that he would actually do it at most once.
3.25.2009 4:47pm
Bart (mail):
Assuming that Mr. Obama chose to address a conservative critique, what makes anyone believe he would actually answer the posed question? See any droning Obama press conference.
3.25.2009 5:25pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Bart: that's why you have to ask the question so that he either answers it or it's obvious that he didn't answer it.

Over two years ago I went to a BHO appearance; I wasn't able to ask a question because there was no Q&A. Since that time, I've spent endless hours trying to get people to go to one of his appearances (or others' appearances) and ask real questions.

Instead of doing that, people have engaged in various useless activities like tea parties, submitting questions to sham online efforts like the one described in the post, and on and on.

Maybe it's the fluoride or something.
3.25.2009 6:43pm
ArthurKirkland:
It is fortunate for everyone that the proposal to emulate the Brits with respect to question time emerged after January 20, 2009. Only the most depraved and sadistic would have wished to witness "question time" a year or two earlier.
3.26.2009 11:10pm

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