Tap dance around the question

Here’s another reason why I will never, never (squared to the tenth infinity) be a politician. They go to the Fred Astaire School of answering questions.

Ask them a question. They tap dance around it and answer a question they want to answer. A question nobody asked them.

For example: Do you favor raising taxes? Answer: The important issue here is not whether I favor raising taxes. The issue is whether the American public feels ...

Notice the tap dance? Every politician is trained in this.

Now, often these birds have to vault and do the splits to get round the question. Or, more important, to get to the point they want to make.

For example: The economy is growing at almost 4 percent. Doesn’t that indicate it is healthy? Answer: When it comes to healthy, the real question is not just whether the economy is healthy. How about the people who work in it? This president has taken a wrecking ball to healthcare in this country. When I am in office, I promise ...

Good sales people learn to tap dance. “But I don’t like red.” “I see where you are coming from. But tell me, is color as important as gas mileage? The gas mileage on this baby will save you so much money you can afford to have it painted any color you want.”

This sort of training can come in handy. “Do you know how fast you were drivin’, buddy?”

“Officer, the better question here is whether you know I am the brother-in-law of your supervisor.”

Imagine if kids knew this stuff. “Did you do your homework?”

“The real issue here is not whether I have finished my homework, Dad. It is whether my computer is new enough to help me finish my homework on time. Now, Christmas is approaching ...”

And I imagine the politicians use this tactic in their private lives. “Did you have sex with that miserable little intern? Did you?”

“Waaall, Hil, mebbe we should answer a more basic question. Mebbe we should ask ourselves why it is you are sooooo hostile about this little subject? Mebbe the question should be whether you got out of your bed on the wrong side this mornin’? And mebbe we should also ask why it is you are a rearin’ back with that lamp, darlin’?”

Unfortunately these politicians get into the habit of tap dancing around even mundane questions. “Think it’ll rain again today?” “Hey, the question we should be asking is whether more rain will mean ...”

Our media types are not good at cornering these pols. To force them to answer the question. At press conferences they don’t want to waste their follow up question to ask the first question over again. Which they ought to do, since the pol avoided answering it.

A few years ago a British television interviewer got sick of this. He asked a politician a question. The politician tap danced around it. And answered a question he wanted to answer. One that no one had asked.

So the interviewer asked the question again. The politician again avoided the question and fielded another query. A query that had come out of his own imagination.

So the interviewer asked the question again. More dancing. And again. More dancing.

I believe the interviewer asked the question twelve times. He also got the sack. Politicians don’t like it when somebody trips them during their dance routines. They complain to broadcasting authorities.

By the time question number five came up a lot of viewers must have been singing out “Answer the bloody question, you nit!”

Have you ever heard yourself wailing like that at the television?

Well, I suppose, Tom, the question should be why you feel you should have the right to ask such a personal question.

Uhhh, right.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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