Friday, July 20, 2007

Hypotheticals for presidential debates

Hart Seely at Slate wrote this hilarious article lampooning this ridiculous question Brit Hume asked during the May 15 Republican debate:

Here is the premise: Three shopping centers near major U.S. cities have been hit by suicide bombers. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured. A fourth attack has been averted when the attackers were captured off the Florida coast and taken to Guantanamo Bay, where they are being questioned. U.S. intelligence believes that another larger attack is planned and could come at any time. First question to you, Senator McCain. How aggressively would you interrogate those being held at Guantanamo Bay for information about where the next attack might be?

Here are a few of the questions Seely wrote:

Candidates, pay attention: An international financier has smuggled an atom bomb into Fort Knox. He loves only gold. Only gold. After an amazing sequence of events, including car chases, sexual conquests, and your defeat of the assassin known as Oddjob, you find yourself staring at the interior of a nuclear device. The final seconds are ticking down. This goes to you, Senator Clinton: Do you cut the blue wire, or do you cut the red wire?


Three criminals from Krypton, freed by a nuclear blast in outer space, have come to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man. Worse, Superman has disappeared. The criminals' leader, General Zod, orders you to kneel before him as a symbol of America's defeat. I'll start with you, Senator Brownback. If the act means saving millions of lives, and perhaps buying time until the Man of Steel returns, would you forsake your belief in Jesus Christ and bow before this evil alien?

I've got one myself:

This question is Senator McCain: Aliens have destroyed most major cities across the country. You are camped out in an disclosed location, but the aliens will eventually discover your location through an irresponsible leak of classified information to the press. You have sent a small multiracial team of comedians to disable the enemy's network, but it is uncertain whether they will succeed. Would you jump into cockpit of a fighter jet to help defend America and risk of leaving the country leaderless at this critical hour?


Updated: In exchange for spinning straw into gold on three occasions, you promise a magical dwarf your first born child. When he comes to collect the child years later, you convince him to abandon this debt if you can guess his name. If there isn't enough time to obtain a court order to wiretap his phone, do you do have the National Security Agency do it anyways? Alternatively, do you have special forces cross into a neighboring friendly country to capture or kill the dwarf? If you capture him, would you subject him to enhanced interrogation techniques, to include waterboarding, in order to obtain the information you need?


Due to an altercation with some ruffians in your hometown of Philadelphia, your mother has sent you to live with you aunt and uncle in California. After arriving at LAX, you hail a suspicious-looking cab with an odd licence plate. Do you get in the cab or report the cabbie to federal immigration authorities?

Watch this space, I may come up with some on the way home. Please feel free to submit your own via e-mail or comment.


Eli said...

Senator McCain: You are part of a band of travelers who have in their possession a trinket of immense value to a certain special interest group. This trinket would have great strategic importance in the war on terror but by utilizing it you will slowly begin to sympathize with the enemy. As President, would you take control of the trinket and use it to aid in the defense of your country or would you stand up for the “little guy” and forsake the lure of the special interests?

Robot Economist said...

That's a good one, I almost did a double take before realizing it was LotR.

Trent said...

Senator, here is the premise: A group of renegade special force soldiers has seized the island of Alcatraz and are threatening to launch chemical weapons on the city of San Diego unless you increase funding for VA care of Iraqi War veterans.

The only hope of stoping these terrorists are an unproven FBI egghead and a dangerous prisoner, who has been in federal custody for decades because he is in possession of top-secret government information.

My question is this: Would you risk the divulgation of our most sensitive intelligence by this individual in order to have a chance to stop these terrorists or would you rather suffer the consequences and protect our national security?

You know, I would pay real money (Canadian dollars, the greenback isn't doing so good lately) to have at least one of these questions asked in a debate. These action movies make for some great hypotheticals!

Robot Economist said...

Trent - You had me at 'divulgation'

Sock Puppet of the Great Satan said...

Think it was who came up with this one:

An evil terrorist has hidden the location of an atom bomb in a microchip implanted into the fetus of a pregnant mother. Are you willing to abort and dissect the fetus to prevent the devastation of an American city?