Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Russert Watch: What Important Questions Won’t He Ask This Week?
Arianna Huffington: The Russert Watch: What Important Questions Won’t He Ask This Week?

Okay, it’s Friday, time to gear up for another round of missed opportunities and vital questions that won’t be asked on this week’s edition of Meet the Press.

Welcome to Week Three of The Russert Watch. For those of you who missed our previous installments (and we know who you are), this is the plan: every Friday we’ll give you a sneak peak at the guest list for the upcoming MTP (gathered from our moles on the show... okay, we’ll actually just look at the MTP website) and offer up a few of the hard-hitting questions we’re sure that our man Tim won’t be asking. We’ll also ask for your suggestions for questions Russert should be asking his guests, and we’ll post the best of them. And if Russert doesn’t take them, they will stand in virtual reality as a reprimand, conspicuous by their absence. Then, on Sunday, after the show, we will count the bodies.

This week, according to the MTP website, Russert will have an "Exclusive!" (love the exclamation point!!!) tete a tete with "Ken Mehlman in his first Sunday show interview as Chairman of the Republican National Committee." They also helpfully note: "This Sunday, June 5th, due to NBC coverage of the French Open, Meet the Press will air at a special early time." (At least we know NBC has its priorities straight.)

Hmm... A full hour with the Chair of the RNC (and the campaign manager for Bush/Cheney 2004) should leave Russert plenty of time to really dig in... and, since Mehlman is basically a mouthpiece for Bush and Rove, ask all the hard hitting questions one might want to ask of the White House. But knowing Russert and his love of inside the Beltway arcania, will he instead "grill" Mehlman about his success raising money for the party (having helped raise over $32 million in the first quarter of 2005)? That’ll really make Ken sweat.

So here are my top four questions I’d love to hear Russert ask Mehlman (but am sure he won’t):

"Ken, following on the heels of one of the bloodiest months of the Iraq war, can you seriously tell us that the White House believes that the insurgency is in its 'last throes'? And if so, what are they smoking over there?"

"Ken, 31 days ago Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and 88 other members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush asking him to respond to the many questions raised by the Downing Street Memo. Why won’t the White House respond to this exercise of Congressional oversight?"

"Ken, at different times this week, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld all dismissed the new Amnesty International report criticizing the U.S. for human rights abuses in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay -- without ever denying the facts in the report. When is this administration finally going to come clean about -- and accept responsibility for -- the horrors that have been perpetrated in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib?"

"Ken, you won the election by scaring the American people into believing that your guy was better equipped to keep this country safe. Given the sorry state of port security -- and the potentially even more deadly lack of security around our nation's chemical plants -- why isn’t the president willing to spend more money securing the homeland? Is it because we’re spending too much money on Iraq?"

And here’s a bonus, uh, query: "Ken, as a man who has famously refused to comment on rumors concerning your personal life... do you believe that matters such as a person’s sexual orientation have no place in the public arena? And, if so, how do you feel about the unseemly way your party -- and specifically the campaign you managed -- used wedge issues such as gay marriage to win re-election?"

Now it's your turn, HuffPost readers. Go to the comments section (of and send us your "Questions Russert Should Ask But Almost Certainly Won’t".