Newsweek has posted a Hillary Clinton question-and-answer session on their website, selecting eight questions out of "more than 1,000 queries from readers," but the "best questions" Newsweek plucked out of the pile often suggested a hostility to America’s current state under Team Bush, with "huge deficits," a "collapsing" middle class, and a teacher "appalled" at the underfunded No Child Left Behind education plan. One asked how she could convince the "Clinton haters" to leave divisiveness behind. Another wondered whether she would plow on with investigations of the actions of "Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, etc.?" But there were no questions about her Iraq vote, Clinton scandals, or Democrat corruption of any kind.
Newsweek began its Q&A with the explanation: "Last month NEWSWEEK invited readers to submit questions to Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton. We received more than 1,000 queries from readers—the bulk of them about Iraq, the economy, health care and education. We forwarded a selection of the best questions to Sen. Clinton. Here are her answers." Left unsaid: Was Hillary handed just these eight inquiries? Or was she allowed to narrow it down further?
Here’s how the questions appeared in order, with snippets of Hillary’s answers. First, the "huge deficits" question, which could come across as centrist, sort of a Ross Perot/Concord Coalition query:
How are you going to deal with the huge deficit? Where will you find the money to pay for health-care reform? – Sarah, Miami
Hillary said "We have a lot of work to do to reverse President Bush’s fiscal recklessness," and claimed she would put the country on the path to balanced budgets.
Then came the "haters" question:
Whether it’s fair or not, you and your husband are polarizing figures to many Americans. America needs some healing after all of the divisiveness of the last eight years. During the campaign and after, how will you convince the Clinton-haters that you can be a good president for all the people? – Cynthia, Denver
Hillary insisted naysayers about her Senate career hardly stopped her from winning 67 percent of the vote in 2006 (against the almost unknown and unreported Mayor of Yonkers), and concluded: "Anyone who gets the Democratic nomination is going to be subjected to the withering attacks that come from the other side. I think I have proven that I can not only survive them but also surpass them." Translation: She’s proven that the media will ignore the scandals, and then lightly gloss over them when forced to acknowledge them, with words like "Clinton haters" employed to describe those annoying people who actually want to see tax returns or other facts.
Then, the obligatory army-to-Darfur question:
For four years now, American citizens have been witness to the genocide and mass atrocities in Darfur. What specifically will you do as president to help bring this to an end? Will you authorize the use of U.S. military assets to help protect the lives of innocent Darfurian civilians? – Kristen, Des Moines, Iowa
Hillary wants UN peacekeepers on the ground, and maybe a NATO no-fly zone: "It is long past time that we bring the international community together through American leadership to end the genocide in Darfur. We must quit giving lip service and start acting." Then:
If elected, how will you handle any investigations that may pop up into the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, etc.? Should the investigations continue or should the country move on? -- Steven, Raleigh, N.C.
Hillary made no promises to impeach or imprison Team Bush players, but tried to throw some partisan red meat: "For the last six and a half years we have seen a dangerous experiment in extremism in the White House. The Bush-Cheney administration has elevated partisan politics and cronyism over competence and professionalism."
Cronyism over competence? This, from the woman who threw career employees out of the White House Travel Office and replaced them with buddies and relatives? Then:
As the first woman president, what would you do differently from the men that have preceded you? – Dan, Ladera Ranch, Calif.
What a toughie. Blah blah blah, she’s not running because she’s a woman, but, by the way, she’s a wildly inspirational figure: "Fathers are driving long distances to bring their daughters to my events. Women in their 90s are telling me that they were born before women had the right to vote and that they want to live long enough to see a woman in the White House. When I am elected, we will have made history by working together." Then, more sinking America:
The middle class seems to be collapsing. A few Americans are becoming well off, but many more are finding it harder and harder to live an acceptable life. What will you do to keep me, my family and my friends from sinking to low-income or poverty levels, as the jobs we did go away? – Tim, Sandusky, Ohio
Hillary agreed: "Americans are facing increasing costs of living, from housing to energy to health care to college; health-care premiums have nearly doubled in the last six years, while wages have been stagnant." In this answer, Hillary sounds the most like Bill scribbled in the margins: "I believe it’s time to reject President Bush’s philosophy of a ‘you’re on your own’ society and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity." Then:
As a 58-year-old self-employed female Realtor, I can no longer afford health insurance. If I become ill or partially disabled I will have to surrender my home, my car and any other assets in order to receive medical care. This is a constant worry. What is your health-insurance plan? -- Carol, Greenwood, Ind.
Don’t say candidates never get open-ended sales questions any more. Hillary says her "American Choices Health Plan" will "put the consumer in the driver’s seat by offering more choices and lowering costs." As if her last health plan did any of that. The last question, on ruthless education cuts:
As a teacher I am appalled at No Child Left Behind. The emphasis is on testing for both children and teachers, yet no money is given to support this or anything else. Our classes are getting larger; help is being cut. What would you do to set education right again? --Jeanne, Rockingham, Vt.
Hillary felt her pain: "It is an unfunded mandate that encourages teachers to teach to the test, and the curriculum is being narrowed. I hear story after story about music and art or physical education or field trips being cut out of the school day to make more time for drilling and routine work that prepare students for standardized tests."
It's too bad Newsweek just published first names for these Hillary-pleasing questioners, which makes it little harder to wonder whether Cynthia in Denver runs the local Democratic Party, or Tim in Sandusky is an organizer for Kucinich for President.