Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The RNC and the Art of the Leading Question.

Groucho Marx set the tone for the leading question with his classic question:

Have you stopped beating your wife?

Michael Steele and the RNC have taken a page from the Groucho Marx book of political surveying with their survey of President Obama’s foreign policy.

It may actually come as a surprise to the party whose leading lights all write for tabloid journals that represent the “Jerry Springer Show” stratum of literature, but people aren’t all idiots simply because they aren’t you.

People know you are interested in only serious social science when you start with such finely-crafted questions as this one:

1.  Do you agree with Barack Obama’s decision to close the dentition center in Guantanamo Bay and move some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists to the United States?

I’m particularly impressed with the nuanced grasp of international politics that this question displays:

5. Do you believe Barack Obama’s statement of indignation after North Korea’s nuclear test on Memorial Day will deter the isolated regime from moving forward with its nuclear program?

And number 8 really shows that the RNC is not just playing to its base but is really looking to get the pulse of Real America:

8. Do you believe Barack Obama’s apology tours of Europe and the Middle East has helped strengthen our national security?

And finally, a question that doesn’t assume any prior state, but leaves the subject free to respond unmolested:

16. Obama’s handling of which region of the world worries you the most: (Click up to three choices)





 Middle East

 Central America

 North America (Canada & Mexico)

 South America

Mr. Steele, you and the RNC can continue to get along without me into the foreseeable future.  Mr. Dean, should you and the DNC send me a survey that is in any way as pathetic as this one I promise that I will mock you just as much, but so far you haven’t.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Steele.  You are doing a better job of maintaining party unity than many vocal partisans.  You are keeping me and much of the political center firmly in the Democratic Party camp.  


  1. …That Hillary Clinton’s campaign sent me about 3 years ago, that took me out of her camp.  I had been planning on voting for her since W took over in 2000.  Then, I got this GOP inspired insinuation drivel in the mail.  I realized that she had fought against the smear-merchants for so long that her campaign was framed in their language.  

    We Americans don’t want blame, insinuation, lies and deceit in place of competence, honesty and skill.  

    The ‘values voters’ are a dwindling inbred population of gun-hoarding klan members in gay-bashing prayer circles.  The rest of us are more and more inclined to believe that real solutions involve genuine work and not hate or fear of each other.


  2. anna shane

    I recently got a robo-call about my opinion on health care, and the first questions were so strange I hung up.  We have lots of polling companies that are probably very good at finding out what consumers may fork money over for, I think they’re very good on purchasing practices, but when it comes to public policy opinions, it’s too easy to  sound bite into the answers you want.  The RNC starts with the answers and then tests questions to make sure they get ’em. War anyone?  

  3. And it has been endemic within the RNC for a while now. When in doubt, manufacture support and polls.  It is an awkwardly scholarly approach to generating policy–or rather, for generating support for policy already decided upon.

    And that is part of why I have little faith in the bulk of the visible leadership.  Steele is not looking for information on how the rank and file feel about things, but is trying to lead folks while getting their carefully considered opinion.  It is a leading from the rear that bothers me a great deal.

    What I’ve been hoping for, and all my hopes have been dashed, that the RNC would take some time and reflect on the losses, and actually figure out where they’ve gone wrong.  But this, and coupled with the National Black Republicans Association calls for an apology from Democrats for 150 years of policies, while tacitly ignoring Lee  Atwater’s Willie Horton ads, The Magical Negro ditties, Trent Lott’s “State Rights” support and Strom Thurmond’s swing into the Republican camp with so many other Dixiecrats when the split came down on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is indicatitive that the party leadership has no intention of grounding themselves with reality, and are instead playing politics as a game.  And with folks’ lives firmly held as pieces to maneuver, as opposed to constituients whose lives they impact.

    It is this separation from reality that I have to distance myself from–and it’s one of the reasons that I can’t really call myself a Conservative anymore. The waters are so tainted with bone stupid and denial of reality that I find it a lot easier to just say that I’m a Republican, and look for folks who share the ideals for the Republic, and that is at odds with the leadership at this point, who are gripped with a need to be Conservative before Republicans, and at this point, I wish they’d slice themselves off and split the party so that they could gather up all the “Real Americans” under their banner, and let the party get back to preservation of the Republic, than serve a “Conservative Gods, Guns, and Glory” approach that is hardly in keeping with either Conservative nor Republican values–but I’ll give them the “Conservative” label, if they’ll split, and let me have my party back. I think that would be more than fair, and they can put Palin and Bachmann up for 2012, and be happy in their work…

  4. rfahey22

    1) Have you beat your wife?

    2) When did you stop beating her?


    3) When did you stop beating your wife?

    The RNC has managed to combine both leading and compound questions in their classically underhanded style.

  5. 8.    Do you believe Barack Obama’s apology tours of Europe and the Middle East has helped strengthen our national security?



    No opinion

    Plural.  “Has” is singular.  “Have” is plural.  i.e. “His tours have…”.  I know it’s tough to keep all that straight and write at the same time.  No rush, take all the time you need to get it right.  We’ll wait.

    Maybe Steele is Palin’s grammar tutor?

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