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President Quiz 2008


Category: politics

The election draws closer. Both major parties have a gaggle of potential presidents honking and flapping. They all have something to say. They all think they are the best qualified. Not a single one of them will do anything that would legitimately expose weakness in their knowledge of things useful for a president to know.

Imagine a stage. There are no podiums, only small desks separated by dividing walls. A camera focuses downward onto the writing surface of each desk. A super-sensitive microphone listens for the slightest hint of cheating. On top of the desks there are small, blue exam books and a couple of number two pencils. (The number two here refers to the hardness of the graphite in them, not to fecal material as some of you may have thought.)

All the candidates from both major parties are led in, each to a separate desk. The proctor examines the question sheets and then place one on each desk, face down. He says, ?When I tell you to begin, you may turn over the question sheet and begin answering the questions in your blue books. If you need another blue book, you will raise your hand quietly and I will bring you one. You will have exactly two hours to answer as many of the questions as you can. I will alert you when you have one hour, half an hour, fifteen, and five minutes left. When I say the time is up, you will put your pencils down and back away from your desk, leaving all test materials on the desk. I remind you that this exam is being televised nationwide live. Ready? You may begin,?

The ?contestants? begin answering the questions. At the end of the two hours, their answers are corrected live, on television, against the predefined answers. The answers, in photographic form to maintain the penmanship, are made publicly available on the internet. We all have a good chuckle.

The questions would not need to be that hard. They would need to focus on general subjects where opinion is less of an issue. The test should show the basics that such a person should have grasped. I want to see them answer questions like:

  • Recite or paraphrase the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • Explain the difference between ?Absolute Advantage? and ?Comparative Advantage?.
  • Who has more military expertise, a West Point graduate with twenty years of service in the military and the rank of general or a politician who barely made it through law school and, at most, may have served a semester in R.O.T.C.?
  • What is Wahhabism and how does it compare to related sects?

Once the test was complete and the scores posted, the proctor interviews each candidate so that he or she will have an opportunity to explain why basic information escapes them. After the interview, the candidate gives a urine sample to be tested for ?candidacy enhancing drugs.?

No, I don?t think we will ever see such a television program. You have to admit, though, it would be a good one.

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