You’re the elite, the cream of the national press corps (That’s pronounced “core” rather than “corpse,” which the president botched recently, but which you all found far less important than the “e” that’s not at the end of potato when a Republican VP stumbled). Thanks for coming. I invited you here to ask when’s the last time any of you fearless pros asked the president as direct and challenging a question as these two hardballs he faced last week at Univision, the Spanish language network:
"I think up to 100 Mexicans might have died (in Operation Fast and Furious) and also American agent Brian Terry. There's a report that 14 agents were responsible for the operation, but shouldn't the attorney general, Eric Holder…have known about that and if he didn't, should you fire him?"
"You promised [immigration reform] and a promise is a promise. And with all due respect, you didn't keep that promise."
Those are some respectful zingers doing just what the press is supposed to: holding political leaders accountable for their words and actions. So, can you think of any tough question you’ve put to him lately? As in, sometime this term?
You don’t really want to look like lap dog sycophants, do you? Good. Then here are a few suggestions:
Ask him if his policies toward the Middle East may have contributed to current violence there.
Specifically, did his decision to pressure Mubarak out of Egypt and to forcibly remove Qaddafi from Libya enable radical elements hostile to the US to rise to power?
Ask him if his overall approach to engaging the Muslim world has produced positive results.
Ask him why, after the attacks on Egyptian, Libyan, and other embassies, his administration immediately asserted the fiction they were spontaneous demonstrations of religious grievance at an obscure internet clip critical of Mohammed.
Ask why for over a week it denied there was a deliberate targeting of America by terrorist groups on the anniversary of September 11th. Ask him if it’s true the State Department had warnings of likely attacks in the Middle East at least 48 hours before they occurred.
Ask him, with or without warnings, why are American embassies in some of the most dangerous places on earth essentially unguarded? Will secretary of State Clinton be held accountable for this failure to protect American personnel?
Speaking of Obama team players, will any of you professional skeptics ask Harry Reid if he plans to apologize to Mitt Romney for falsely accusing him of paying no taxes for 10 years? And if he doesn’t, then why not?
Will any of you ask the president how he can serve all Americans, as he pointedly told David Letterman is his job, if he doesn’t even know what the national debt is or what he has added to it?
When the president declares he “saved the auto industry,” will you ask him if he thinks Ford Motor Company and the American plants of Toyota, Honda, and Nissan aren’t also part of the American auto industry?
Ask him—if Chrysler and GM couldn’t pay their bills--what he thinks would have happened if bankruptcy law had been allowed to operate in a normal way? Would Americans’ demand for cars have been less? Wouldn’t Chrysler’s and GM’s assets have been sold in an orderly way to leaner competitors or start up companies, who would have created new jobs and joined other suppliers to serve the American market?
Will you ask if it isn’t it more accurate to say he saved the ruinous pay, benefits, and pensions of the United Auto Workers that GM and Chrysler employed, and did it by lawlessly ripping equity out of the hands of secured creditors and bondholders and gifting it to the labor unions?
And, isn’t it true that the happy talk a while back about GM paying back its loans was highly misleading, as in essentially false? That wasn’t income from auto sales, was it, just federal stimulus grants that GM turned around and handed back to the government? And don’t taxpayers still hold a major chunk of GM ownership in billions of devalued stock? And isn’t the company’s survival still very much in doubt?
Will you ask him if this is really a success story, or likely a terribly costly, vote-buying boondoggle that just hasn’t played out yet?
Those are just a few starters. If you all think about it, there are a lot of fastballs you could throw over the left edge of the plate—if your peripheral vision reaches there.