Friday evening, during the first of three presidential debates, here are some questions you might wish to ask — not of the candidates, but of yourself: Are the questioners seeking information for your benefit? Or are they playing “gotcha,” trying to make themselves more important than the candidates? Does either of these candidates look presidential? If yes — or no — how important is that to what kind of president he would make? Do you feel you can discern by how they appear on television what their true character is? Regardless of how they appear on TV, how do you feel they might acquit themselves once in the White House? Which is more important to you: How their TV performance will affect their popularity? Or how willing you think they would be to do the unpopular once in office? Are you primarily watching how they act on TV? Or are you primarily listening to what they are really saying? Compared with what they are promising to do if elected, how do you think they would innovate in response to unforeseen events that might occur? When the camera catches their eye, are they looking at all those millions of other TV viewers out there? Or at just one person? Is that one person you? If so, do you honestly trust that look? Does it give you the confidence that you can trust that person to do what he feels is the right thing to do, even though you may not agree on everything? What do you want above all else in the next president? Do you see anything resembling that in either, or both, of the candidates as they present themselves in this televised make-believe debate? Is what you want in a president someone who possesses a lot of information about a lot of different things? Or is it someone who may not know the answer to every question asked, but is capable of dealing with the unknown without knowing the latest public-opinion poll results? If you are looking for experience in a candidate, is it how much experience? Or what kind of experience? Or what a candidate has actually accomplished while acquiring that experience? If you are looking for judgment in a candidate, how do you measure that? By how consistent that judgment has been? By how that judgment squares with the way events have unfolded? What kind of judgment did each of these candidates use in making the first crucial presidential decision — selecting his party’s nominee for vice president, the possible successor within the next four years? How would you rate each vice-presidential candidate’s experience and judgment based on that experience if the vice president had to step in for the president early in the next administration? Or late in the term? Do you feel either of these presidential candidates is more qualified, or less qualified, to be president than the other party’s vice-presidential candidate? What is your comfort level, or discomfort level, with each presidential candidate: For yourself? For your family? For this nation?
After the questioners and candidates have done with one another, TV analysts will instruct you on what you have just seen and heard and what it all means.
You should have just one question for them: “Who asked you?”
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for NewsMax.com.
Read John Perry's columns here.
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