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Lonely Puppet Seeks Politically Informed Puppeteer


I get to meet Bill Clinton tomorrow, and apparently I can also ask him a question a few hours later. In public. I didn’t sign up or anything. A former faculty advisor of mine had me put on “the list” and so now I have to stay on campus from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. tomorrow, but damn it, I get to ask the Big Dog a question. I just don’t have a clue what to ask him.

So, um, how about you think of something clever? I promise I’ll only take all the credit.

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  • If you manage to get photographed in a pose where you show some of what Althouse would call cleavage, I swear I will send you a thousand dollars

    • SEK

      What if I just bring onion rings?

      • SEK

        I think I’ve answered my own question, haven’t I? I’m not sure how to arrange to get a photograph of me and the Big Dog holding up some onion rings, but damn it, I’m gonna try. (Unless someone comes up with a better idea in the next 13 hours or so.)

    • Scott Lemieux

      “Let’s just pose this…randomly.”

      Also, I have it on good authority that SEK looks exactly like Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones. It’s amazing!

      • SEK

        You do realize that it’s me we’re dealing with, right? I fully expect to have been arrested by the Secret Service and locked away in an undisclosed location by this time tomorrow.

        • BigHank53

          Just get the folks having sex in the undisclosed location to carry a message out.

      • Anonymous

        Search Google Images for “Scott Eric Kaufman”. Google seems very confused what he looks like, but “lingerie model” and “eldritch horror” are both among the top options.

        • Jameson Quinn

          Also, appropriately, “Heisenberg from Breaking Bad”

        • Manju

          Search Google Images for “Scott Eric Kaufman”

          I got this:


          …and you guys have been blaming poor little National Review this whole time.

          • Anonymous

            Seriously? I don’t get that one at all. Yes, result 1 is underexposed some guy, I presume SEK, but 3 is eldritch horror; 7,8, and 9 are lingerie models, and around 20 is Heisenberg. And the rest is a similarly mixed bag; for instance, I caught an illustration of a monster from Eco’s “Baudolino”, etc.

            • Manju

              Seriously? I don’t get that one at all.

              In images, page 2, 1st or 2nd row…depending on filter settings.

              I would’ve preferred Strom Thurmond, but at least this guy’s still at it.

              • Google only produces individualized results now.

                • Manju

                  If that were true, surely there would be one of SEK flipping me the Bird.

    • Jon H

      I’d settle for a photo that is ripe for ‘shopping.

  • Have he and Ken Starr patched up things the way he has with Bush I?

    When he and Robert Rubin get together, do they discuss the ’90’s or do they compare their current net worth?

    What was his plan to sucker Paul Ryan on Social Security reform? Will it still work?

  • thebewilderness

    I think you should ask him what his position is on the Polish corridor to the sea that runs from Iran to Syria.

  • Warren Terra

    “Do you wish the press had been as easy on you as they are on Mitt Romney’s many complete reversals?”

    • SEK

      Warren, I feel you (chest thump), but I wonder if sometimes you just don’t get me.

  • Ask him if he regrets selling the Democratic party to Wall Street. Ask him if repealing Glass-Steagall and deregulating derivatives with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (signed on December 21, 2000) was worth it.

    Ask him if he ate the piece of pie Ricky Ray Rector had set aside from his last meal “for later”.

    Ask him if he feels like Tom Wilkinson from Michael Clayton, like he had been coated in a patina of shit from institutional organisms dedicated to destroying the miracle of humanity.

    • DrDick

      Asking him if he regrets signing NAFTA and destroying the economies of two of the signatories.

      • Anon21

        Or, if you’d rather ask him about something he did that was actually bad (past the Commodity Futures thing, which I don’t know about one way or the other):

        1. Why’d he sign AEDPA, which makes it extremely difficult for a state prisoner to get federal relief when his constitutional rights were violated?

        2. Why’d he sign IIRAIRA, making legal permanent residents eligible for deportation if they commit minor crimes, and requiring mandatory detention for broad categories of immigration detainees?

        3. Why’d he sign DOMA?

        I would be legitimately fascinated to hear why Clinton decided it would be morally acceptable, much less a good idea, to sign these three horror shows plus PRWORA into law all within a single year. It made him arguably one of the most reactionary Presidents of the 20th century.

        And since we all love baiting dead-enders around here, I’d be thrilled to hear what Obama has done that’s remotely as bad as any of that. Compared to Clinton, Obama is Dennis Kucinich.

        • Jameson Quinn

          Well, Clinton had fewer flying death robots. Also habeas corpus violations lying around from Bush. Not that he’d have done any better than Obama if he had had those things, but caring more about those things than your list is not per se ridiculous.

          • Anon21

            Yeah, Clinton also had fewer iPhones. So what? Presidents are supposed to avoid killing terrorists, or use less precise (i.e., more likely to kill innocent bystanders) means of killing terrorists, because you don’t like the idea of remote-controlled weapons?

            Habeas violations… there, I’ll agree, it’s not per se ridiculous to care more. Indeed, I care about habeas violations quite a lot. But I think Obama’s responsibility is mitigated by the fact that Congress has made it mostly impossible for him to carry out his original plan of giving civilian trials to the prisoners held at Guantanamo. Opinions may differ.

        • DrDick

          Damaging the economies of the US and Mexico is not bad?

          • Anon21

            Job losses don’t necessarily imply “economic damage.”

            • DrDick

              Tell that to the unemployed.

            • Malaclypse

              Job losses don’t necessarily imply “economic damage.”

              I’m trying to visualize a situation where net job losses lead to an increase in total utility, and the only way I’m seeing it work is by completely forgetting that marginal utility normally decreases as income rises.

              In other words, counting the happiness of the rich as being more important than that of the poor.

              • Anon21

                I guess it might also involve counting Mexicans’ happiness at zero?

                • DrDick

                  Tell that to the thousands of dispossessed Mexican farmers, especially in the South. The benefits to Mexico were highly uneven, with most of the benefits going to the rich, just as they did here.

                • Bill Murray

                  No DrDick, they had a change in their utility function such that many decided to stop farming their land and move to the US. Everybody’s happier when they move to the US.

      • Rhino

        Which two?

    • BigHank53

      If you’re really feeling like an asshole, ask him how he feels about the HIV-contaminated blood the Arkansas Prison System sold in Canada, and the people it killed there.

  • owlbear1

    “How much responsibility does the President have in regard to reigning in an economic bubble and what tools can he use?”

    • Boudleaux

      But be sure to spell it “reining” when you ask the question . . .

      • Jameson Quinn

        Nah. Funnier with a G. And Clinton’s all fancy with arithmetic, not with spelling.

      • Hogan

        “Like putting reins on a bubble” ought to be an idiom for . . . something.

  • c u n d gulag

    “After you, who do you think is the other greatest Republican President in your lifetime?”

    • dl


  • S Physicist

    Probably a less interesting question than some of the others listed, but I’d still be keen to hear a plan to get climate change legislation passed were he in office (carbon tax + carbon tariff set at equivalent carbon tax * CO2 output of source country per GDP of source * value of good?) and what your run-of-the-mill nobody like me could do to advance that cause.

  • Amok92

    Is it true that while you and Dan Burton shared the watermelon that he shot during his Vince Foster investigation you said “That bitch Ron Brown’s next”?

  • Ted

    I’m the father of a young girl and I’d be very proud if she turned out like your daughter. Do you have any advice that would help me?

    • Jameson Quinn

      Nah, that one’s for Dick Cheney. Unless of course he’s on trial where he belongs.

  • Jameson Quinn

    Wow. This is a serious opportunity, and I don’t see a lot of serious suggestions.

    I’m tempted to put something about my pet issue (voting system reform). But I doubt the puppet’s quite that lonely.

    So: “From your experience, how do donations affect politicians’ behavior in office? Has that gotten worse since your presidency? What can we do today to reduce money’s influence?”

    We can be like “oh, snap, you practically brought up Glass-Steagal” here on the blog; but it’s not trying to force him to say anything he doesn’t want to say, because that just won’t work with him; and he might actually come out with something interesting.

    • RhZ

      I think voting system reform would be a good topic to ask about.

    • NonyNony

      This is a serious opportunity, and I don’t see a lot of serious suggestions.

      Hm. Posting for questions to ask the President on a blog full of random anonymous characters leads to snarky jokes instead of actual suggestions. Who could have known?

      (I suspect that SEK knew exactly what he was doing when he posted this, and was expecting a ratio of at least 10 snarks to every sincere suggestion. Note that that’s a lower bound not an upper one…)

  • Sausage or pepperoni?

    Does he still prefer briefs?

    No, wait. Those are HORRIBLE questions.

    • Trollhattan

      “Ginger, or Maryann?”

      The answer, of course, will be “both.”

  • Todd

    Clinton is smart. Smart people come up with good ideas, quickly.

    Ask him what the best strategy would be for countering the many and varied Republican/conservative efforts to stop citizens from voting in elections.

  • OzarkHillbilly

    “So, how was that cigar?”

    • Woodrowfan

      and is Monica still available???

    • Superking

      Dude, I kind of feel like you’re ruining the good reputation of the Ozarks.

      • OzarkHillbilly

        Dude, I kind of feel like you’re ruining the good reputation of the Ozarks.

        It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

  • Woodrowfan

    Ask him who, besides his wife, should be the Democratic front runner in 2016….

  • Jonah Goldberg

    Have you asked Bruce if you can stand in for Clarence Clemons in the E Street Band?

    • Malaclypse

      Or if you can sit in with the Spiders from Mars, even.

  • ScottC

    I think a question that asks for specific proposals about how to limit the impact of the Adelsons (and similar people) over national campaigns, given where we think the SCOTUS is likely to go in banning limits on spending, could be a good one.

    But my first thought would be to ask him either 1) what he thinks were the strengths/weaknesses of his administration’s approach to health care reform and the President Obama’s approach to that, or 2) why Mack McLarty? Why did you name him? And if you think he didn’t work out (sure seems that way), what was wrong with your read about why he’d make a good CoS?

  • Aaron Morrow

    Did you ever think of a good idea for a law, then take a look at the makeup of Congress, and say to yourself “[Expletive Deleted]”?

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    What can be done about the Citzens United decision?

  • Does he now believe the repeal of Glass-Steagall was a mistake? Why or why not?

  • Justin

    “Would you agree that making it easier for the Federal Government to hire top talent (and to fire not-top-talent) is crucial to making the administrative state successful? and if so, how would you propose loosening current rules about hiring and firing?”

  • david mizner

    I’ll pull a question from this post, “Bill Clinton Has One Last Golden Opportunity to Screw America.”

    You might think Bill Clinton had already done enough for this country. After all, he provided al Qaeda’s motivation for 9/11 by keeping U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, strangling Iraq, and supporting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. He teed up the Iraq war for George Bush by taking constantly about Saddam’s terrifying WMD and signing the Iraq Liberation Act. He deregulated Wall Street, setting the stage for a worldwide economic collapse. And he hollowed out the Democratic party and U.S. left so thoroughly that there was essentially no resistance to Bush.

    But some people feel he still has more to give. This is from a long New York Magazine article about Clinton and Obama:

    Joel Johnson [a top Clinton aide during his administration and now a D.C. lobbyist] believes Clinton could help Obama (assuming he wins) with a renewed pursuit of a grand bargain on entitlements and taxes as Washington grapples right after the election with the so-called fiscal cliff. “It’s no secret that Obama was ready to go pretty far out on entitlement reform with Boehner,” says Johnson. “Who better to be a thought leader about that process than Clinton? In terms of making some of the hard decisions that Democrats are gonna have to make, and being able to talk about the beauty of a budget deal and what it can do for the economy. So I actually think he will have a postelection role in that intense period. The same credibility that he demonstrated in the convention speech can be applied to the legislative crisis that we’re going to be in in the next six to eight months.”

    The idea of Clinton doing just that, or assisting his wife on her way to the White House, is appealing on a multitude of levels…

    Would Clinton want to do this? Of course he would. You may remember his chummy discussion with Paul Ryan about cutting Medicare. And he was eager to work with Newt Gingrich to privatize Social Security until the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. He’d be chomping at the bit to fly one last mission.

  • Bill Murray

    Open with your finding people having sex in your office story and then ask him, what his best office sex story is

    • Cody


    • Aaron B.

      Well, there was this one time he had sex in SEK’s office…

      • Jameson Quinn

        sex in SEK’s?

        • UserGoogol

          Does SEK go by his initials in real life? Maybe that’s what confused them.

          • rea

            That never occurred to me, but obviously there must have been a “SEK’s Office” sign on the door, that just got misread.

  • Jon H

    Obvs, ask him something esoteric about Breaking Bad.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Game of Thrones. Clinton’s not a chemist.

  • Cody

    Do you actually support Unions, or do you believe all wealth is derived from “job-creators”?

  • Kathleen Geier

    Though he’s probably answered this in public already, I’d be curious to know what the biggest (non-Monica-related) regret of his presidency is. Specifically, I’d love to know if he’s had second thoughts about NAFTA, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and other actions he took to deregulate and financialize the economy while he was president.

    I’d also be curious to know if he wishes he could have been president in 2001 or 2009. My sense is that he would have loved having a huge crisis like 9/11 or the collapse of the world economy to deal with. Dealt with successfully, such events have given him the chance to be a “great” president. But his presidency was relatively uneventful and no such world-historic events happened under his watch.

  • Stag Party Palin

    Ask him if he is aware that in the last days of his administration whenever he said, “I feel your pain,” every internal organ I possess(ed) scrabbled frantically to escape through the nearest available exit.

  • Uncle Ebeneezer

    I would probably just thank him for that amazing convention speech.

  • Craig Pennington

    What would have it improved in the past 75 years to have at some point paid off any of the WWII debt?

    Why should (or shouldn’t) we worry about the deficit right now?

  • forest_street

    Ask him how realistic he thinks it is to hope that the Republicans will cooperate more on important issues during a second Obama term.

  • calling all toasters

    “What are the prospects for bipartisanship in the near future?”

  • Jon H

    Ask how he feels about Denise Rich ditching her US citizenship, after all the trouble he went through for her ex-husband Marc.

  • Keaaukane

    Could you and Newt Gingrich write a book on how to pick up younger women?

    • Jameson Quinn

      With Don Draper and Tyrion Lannister.

  • KLG

    “In the loneliest hour of the darkest night, do you ever regret that your hormonal response to “that woman’s” thong led more or less directly to the reign of C-Plus Augustus?”

    No, I really didn’t think so either.

  • Hogan

    What kind of wood did they use to make the coffin James Carville sleeps in?

    • And has he ever seen Mary Matalin out in the daylight.

  • Jim Lynch

    Ask him about JFK’s assassination. Who does he think was behind it?

    • UserGoogol

      Hillary did it, obviously. She was a Republican when she was young, after all, so it was a youthful indiscretion.

  • Ed

    Ask him how much he enjoyed, via his convention speech, making the case for Obama better than the Administration (or Obama), and was it unfortunate he couldn’t have been sent out to handle the first debate as well?

  • What’s the path forward on beating malaria.

  • Here’s what I might say, given the chance:

    “President Clinton, thank you for taking my question, and for the excellent convention speech.

    Your administration suffered through the rise of the right wing media machine that has since grown and morphed into a “post truth” behemoth. In your view, other than embracing its own “post truth” system, what can Democrats do to overcome this?”

    Or, you know, “Dude, like, what’s your favorite beer?”

    • Obviously that should be “their own” — I started with “what can the left do” and forgot to change “its” after I realized that asking Clinton about “the left” would be ridiculous.

    • Jim Lynch

      Or: “Sir, your administration greased the skids on behalf of Rupert Murdoch. Your feelings today”?

  • How do you get to the sea from Iran?

  • SEK

    Y’all are going to be so disappointed. I’m not sure what I can and can’t write about yet — some stuff was explicitly off-the-record — but as soon as I find out, I’ll relate what I can.

    In the meantime, feel free to guess as to the circumstances responsible for your pending disappointment.

    • Anonymous

      He gave a political non-answer? I mean, that one’s so obvious, that if it’s something else, you should at least give us a hint.

  • Witt

    I would have asked: Getting a president to focus on a huge, multi-decade issue like climate change is really hard. What is your advice for how we can do that?

    • Anonymous

      That question is so good that you should invent a time machine so SEK can ask it, a la Cowboy Feng.

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