THE LAST REPUBLICAN DEBATE on CNBC was a disaster. The topics and questions were mean, obnoxious, personal, and dug too much into statements or past behavior the candidates exhibited. It was just a coincidence that poll leaders Dr. Carson and Mr. Trump were forced into the biggest lies of the night. Carson lying about his involvement with a nutritional supplement company that claims it cures autism and cancer with its products, called out last January by the National Review, the approved-for-the-future conservative host of the next ex-NBC debate. Trump, lying about his labeling of Marco Rubio as “Mark Zuckerberg’s senator” for Rubio’s supposedly too-accommodative immigration views, pretending he never said it, when it was on his website all along. CNBC panelist Becky Quick channeled Trump’s “I watch the shows” military chops by allowing herself, through lack of the most basic show prep, to be steamrolled, Gangnam-style. Sheepishly apologizing to Trump’s bullying by not being able to crush him with her source, there should be actual career consequences for her. Every question should be asked by someone who knows their stuff. Go back to CNBC and stick to reading the prompter on whether Disney beat earnings estimates or something less challenging.
With that in mind, as a public service, I have prepared the kind of questions that are brilliantly probing but will make no one uncomfortable, which should be the goal for the discerning Republican primary voter. In no particular order:
Chris Christie: Have you gotten over the personal turmoil of the scandal that recently roiled your administration in New Jersey…Bon Jovi or Springsteen?
Rand Paul: You attended Duke University Medical School in the mid-80’s, several years into Coach K‘s remarkable career that didn’t get off to such a great start. Did you foresee his fantastic run as he became the winningest coach in NCAA Division One history? And a followup…. Are you still a fan?
John Kasich: There have been 8 presidents from Ohio, including US Grant, Rutherford B Hayes, and William Howard Taft, who was quite heavy. Would you be proud to be Ohio President #9?
Jeb Bush: Did you watch “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC? If so, while viewing, did you ever dream that one day its host, Donald Trump, would trash you and derail your rightful place as the third president named Bush? If you’re not familiar with the show, I withdraw the question, and would be sorry for even bringing it up.
Mike Huckabee: Could you please talk about the difficulties you’ve had in keeping off the weight you lost last decade? Do you swap recipes with Gov. Christie? Did you cry when you heard Oprah has taken such a major stake in Weight Watchers?
Carly Fiorina: You were CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the biggest manufacturer of printers. What’s the deal with the high cost of those insipid ink cartridges?
Marco Rubio: I love the way you’re connecting with the Community and the Young People. You’ve said you prefer Tupac over Biggie, and count Pitbull as a friend. Was your dad, the bartender, a big fan of Cuban bandleader and husband of Lucille Ball… Desi Arnaz?
Ted Cruz: Same question about Desi, since your dad is from Cuba too. Also, did your dad know Marco’s dad back on the Island, and did they both like baseball?
Ben Carson: You’ve been called “low energy,” by your friend, Donald Trump. Obviously, however, it takes great stamina and concentration to perform pediatric surgeries that last 15 hours or more, even though my wife, also a doctor, says you’re not really in there continuously and there are lots of breaks. Two questions, sir. Firstly, what kind of music did you like to operate to? Secondly, what was your favorite post-operative meal?
Donald Trump: It’s well known that you were an incorrigible teenager and were sent off to military school beginning with the 8th grade. Which disgusting, degrading, possibly criminal hazing ritual from that part of your life has been the most useful in both your business career and your showbiz/political career?
No need to thank me. It’s what we do here!