Just answer the question!*!

Is it just politicians or are we all guilty of not answering a question directly? I find it unbearable to listen to our leaders and leader wannabees as they duck, deflect, and bat away substantive questions that would tell us where they stand on important issues!

I stumbled across an article I had stuck in my files in 2000 by William Saletan that provides insight into how politicians and others may manipulate discussions of real issues. Let’s pay attention to how many of these tricks they use to steer the dialogue in their favor during the run up to the election 2012. Let’s be aware of what questions politicians can’t, don’t, won’t, or “sorta-kinda” answer.

1. Reject the premise: When asked to choose a position between two alternatives, the Askee says: “I don’t think there has to be a choice…we have to stand for X. So your hypothetical question is of no matter to me.”

2. Add an option: Once again when asked two choose a position from two alternatives, the Askee adds yet another option. “I would address the emotional results of these choices and then I would do Z.”

3. Choose a process, not a position: Questioner: “I’m asking you what your opinion is about this matter.”  Askee: “I trust xyz to do the best thing for the people.”

4. Change the question: The”Askee says: I think it’s more important to ask this other question:” Then he/she proceeds to answer it.

5. Reject the topic:  “I won’t even dignify that question with a response,” says the Askee.

6. Insert a caveat: Answer a yes/no question with a “but” and “only if.”  Askee says, “Of course I think that’s wrong but only if xyz.”

Categories: wisdom

2 replies

  1. I wish that your post would go viral, because it succinctly covers the ineptitude of our politicians. They think that they are so clever with their manipulations. Basically, they reveal slivers of the truth about their philosophy and positions.

  2. This is perfect timing. Last night I saw an interview on PBS newshour with Mark Rubio. He said that one issue the Republicans are emphasizing is President Obama’s intransigence, his refusal to work across party lines. The interviewer managed to close her mouth and then asked how then did the Republicans understand the fact that many Democrats were very angry with their president for compromising and being willing to compromise much to much. As I recall (though I might have been too angry to pay close attention) Rubio rejected the question (#5) and then immediately went to #3 noting how Republicans are doing and will continue to do the right thing.

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