Much has been said about what a moderator shouldn't do (repeat Matt Lauer's horrid performance hosting the Commander in Chief forum a while back; don't ask questions just to hear yourself talk; don't cut off the candidates unnecessarily; don't play favorites; don't be the star of the show, and so on) and what a moderator should do (fact-check Donald Trump; call him a liar when he lies, which he will; keep the candidates on the clock; ask Hillary about her emails, and so on).
We can expect that the rules will be broken, quickly - and that there'll be some squabbling, and Lester will likely have his hands full with these two candidates.
Personally, I have only one ground rule: answer the questions you are asked, and do so without talking about your opponent. Meaning, talk about what you believe, and what you propose to do if elected, rather than wasting time talking about what you think your opponent believes or will do.
I know, I know, that's actually two ground rules, sorry. Mostly, I just want to have some questions answered. And none of them have anything to do with emails.
Here are five questions for Donald Trump:
- You have so far refused to release your most recent tax return, which we've been told are hundreds and hundreds of pages long, and that you are under a routine audit for the twelfth year in a row. Instead of telling us why you won't release your taxes, can you please truthfully answer these three questions: What was your adjusted gross income? What was your tax liability (the amount you owed the government)? How much did you personally donate to charity?
- You have made creating American jobs one of the cornerstones of your race for the Presidency. Please explain why your and your daughter personally brand items that are not made in America, and why over the past decade you have sought permission to bring in over 1,200 foreign workers to be waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and housekeepers for properties such as Mar-a-Lago and the Jupiter Golf Club?
- You have talked in your speeches about immigrants needing to 'assimilate' if they want to stay. Not far from me, there's a two or three mile stretch of road that is anchored at one end by a Slovakian Baptist church and by a mosque at the other end. In between are an Antiochian Orthodox Christian church and a Macedonian Orthodox church. Given that they maintain their own houses of worship, would you consider any of these populations to be 'assimilated'? If yes, which one(s), and if not, what would you do about their lack of assimilation?
- You have mentioned that we need to very extremely vet refugees and potential immigrants from Syria and other countries to prevent terrorism. Given that the several recent acts of what you refer to as radical Islamic terrorism have been committed by American citizens, should American citizens be 'extremely vetted? And if yes, how would you identify the people who would be subject to this vetting?
- You have said, when talking about the Second Amendment, that our broken mental health system needs to be fixed, and that "we need real solutions to address real problems." However, you offer no proposals on how to fix it.Name three specific things you believe we need to do to solve this problem.
And here are five questions for Hillary Clinton.
- As part of your plan to combat terrorism, you make reference to an 'intelligence surge' to get security officials the tools they need to address both foreign terrorism and terrorism committed by American citizens. What is this surge, how would it be implemented and what are the expected outcomes?
- You have talked about cutting the wasteful subsidies that oil and gas companies have enjoyed for far too long and instead invest in clean energy. Given the widely publicized failure of Solyndra, how would your plan differ from efforts undertaken by the Obama administration?
- You mention creating incentives for companies to bring jobs back to America. Specifically, what incentives would you offer, and what are the specific job gains those incentives are designed to achieve?
- Please provide some details on your plan to fundamentally reform veterans' health care and explain how you would pay for this program?
- Name three specific things you would consider to be legitimate reasons to send American soldiers to war.
After each answer, they can argue at each other for a bit, and then move on to the next question. Now these questions won't likely be asked, but it would be interesting.
As will tonight's real action - hope you'll be watching!