Here’s how it usually goes:
Interviewer asks a pointed question, often one that can be answered with yes or no.
Interviewee does a rumba that is, perhaps, within a light year of answering the question, but does not answer the question at all.
Interviewer moves on to the next question.
Yesterday, NPR’s Terry Gross strayed from that time honored script and kept asking Hillary Clinton a question until Clinton actually answered it. It took some persistence on the interviewer’s part, and it ultimately irritated Clinton.
Why Clinton didn’t just answer the question in the first place is a mystery. Gross, essentially asked, Did you personally support gay marriage when you served in Congress, but feel you had to publicly oppose it because your constituents did not support it?
Clinton has always supported gay rights in general, and today supports the right for gays to marry. Admitting that she changed her mind over time would have been simply admitting that she was human. Prevaricating did nothing for her politically except to brand her as yet another dissembling politician.
I’m disappointed in Clinton. But there is someone here to celebrate: Terry Gross.
If more interviewers would emulate the persistence of the Fresh Air host, we would have a much clearer understanding of what our politicians believe. Don’t just give them a pass when they fail to answer a question. It is not rude to rephrase the question and go after them again.
In Idaho, we want to know where politicians stand on adding the four words, sexual orientation and gender identity, to the Idaho Human Rights Act. They refuse to tell us, going so far as to keep the amendment from coming before committee for eight years. You see, if they let the amendment be heard, then they will have to vote on it. They will have to take a stand. This will upset some of their constituents, no matter which way they vote.
It is in our best interest if we know where our elected leaders stand. Making a decision about important issues is what we elect them for.
I encourage all politicians to be honest and open with their constituents about this and every other issue. Yes, I actually wrote that. Assuming that sentence will not have the power to move mountains, I’ll try another. I challenge all those in the media to emulate Terry Gross and stop letting politicians squirm away from answering. Further, I challenge constituents to ask the questions themselves during this political season, and keep asking them until you get an answer. If they answer honestly, thank them for that, even if it isn’t the answer you hoped for.