Wednesday

November 20th, 2019

Insight

Debate questions for Hillary Clinton

Jennifer Rubin

By Jennifer Rubin The Washington Post

Published Sept. 5, 2016

The Closing of the American Mouth

On Friday, the Presidential Debate Commission named NBC's Lester Holt, ABC's Martha Raddatz, CNN's Anderson Cooper and Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace as the moderators for the three debates. Cooper and Raddatz will work together on their presidential debate.

As hot as debates about the media have gotten, there is broad agreement these are solid choices. All have moderated debates. None allows his or her personality to be the focus of a debate. All know how to ask tough follow-ups to prevent candidates from refusing to answer, a skill that will be in high demand in a Clinton-Trump faceoff. (A moderator's most important job is to tell a candidate, "But you didn't answer the question. Let me ask it again.") Raddatz in particular knows a lot about foreign policy, so candidates may get dinged for making stuff up. Our only criticism is that CBS anchor John Dickerson, who ran excellent primary debates, was not included, but there are only so many slots, we know.

As for the questions, here are 10 we would like asked of Hillary Clinton:

1. After you left office as secretary of state, the president and your successor, John Kerry, repeatedly said they would prevent all pathways to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon and get anytime/anywhere inspections. We now know breakout time would be reduced to zero in as little as 10 years and there are not true anytime/anywhere inspections. Since that deal was implemented and $1.7 billion was released to Iran, it has obtained a Russian anti-missile defense system, attempted to acquire impermissible materials, according to German intelligence, conducted multiple illegal missile tests, cracked down even harder on human rights, sent troops to Syria and continues to be the largest state sponsor of terrorism. Was this the deal you would have negotiated? Was either the deal or the implementation flawed? What specific sanctions, if any, would you seek to implement?

2. Egypt's current leader, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, has improved relations with Israel and is an important ally in the war against Sunni jihadists. He has a strong interest in halting Iran's ambitions in the region. However, he also has embarked on a massive crackdown on civil liberties. How would you deal with him?

3. We lost four Americans in Libya. It is now a haven for jihadists. Did you fail to appreciate and plan for the growing threat from radical Muslims after the Libyan civil war? What should you have done better?

4. You've said that it was a mistake to subject the defense budget to across-the-board cuts -- the sequester, as it is called. Multiple defense secretaries say it has jeopardized readiness and our national security more generally. You want to get rid of the sequester. Would you increase the defense budget even if Republicans refused to raise taxes?

5. Iraq was relatively stable and peaceful when you took office. The Islamic State now occupies a good deal of it, Iran's influence in Iraq through Shiite militias has grown, and government paralysis continues. We now face an entrenched enemy with the capability of hitting our homeland and that inspires terrorist attacks around the world. Had we left 15,000 or so troops in place, accompanied by civilian advisers, to keep pressure on then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, would Iraq have held together, denying a haven for the Islamic State's fighters? If so, whose fault is it that we did not do those things?

6. Many Americans who might be inclined to vote for you say that they are very troubled by your handling of confidential documents and your initial broad statements that there were not any classified materials received. Recall that you said, "I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified materials. I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time. I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified." You also said that your email system was allowed and that all work emails had been turned over. All these statements turned out not to be true. What can you say to concerned voters and to military and civilian employees who are expected to keep our nation's secrets?


7. Why did the Clinton Foundation continue to take corporate and foreign donations after you became secretary of state? Did you consider it would have at least the appearance of impropriety?

8. Independent tax analysts have looked at your proposed spending and tax plans and concluded that they don't add much to the debt. But we have a $19.5 trillion debt already. What do you do about that?

9. You've said you want to expand Social Security. As it is, Social Security is not on a sustainable path, and the shortfall far exceeds any "waste, fraud and abuse." What are you going to do to keep Social Security there for future generations?

10. Jeb Bush proposed implementing border and visa overstay controls; shifting legal immigration away from extended-family reunification to get more STEM workers and those with advanced degrees; and creating a path to legalization after a fine and back taxes are paid if the person passes a background check. What is wrong with that?

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