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.”