February 22, 2007

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Concord Publisher's Note: Ask anything
By Dan Szczesny

If ever there were a time to draw attention toward the issue of global warming, this year is it.

And not because Democrats are in control in New Hampshire and in Congress,but rather because it’s primary season again, and politicians will pretty much listen seriously to just about anything you happen to corner them with. This is important stuff, folks — that humorless time that comes to New Hampshire every four years when national politicians will actually listen you, no matter how cuckoo your ideas may be.

The reason I mention global warming is that an environmental group, the New Hampshire Carbon Coalition, has pushed towns to adopt non-binding warrant articles supporting efforts to reduce carbon emissions and controlling climate change.

The gesture is pure symbolism, though it’s impressive how many towns the group has managed to convince to vote on the warrants. Don’t get me wrong. Global warming needs to be addressed to be sure, but putting a ballot together that basically says you like to breathe clean air seems, well, obvious.

But that’s where the first-in-the-nation primary comes in. I’m not a political junkie, but my bet would be that all the presidential candidates are in favor of clean air. After all, every word they utter is being put under a microscope and transmitted around the world almost instantly. They can’t afford not to give each and every inquiry all due gravitas.

So here’s what I am proposing. Let’s give them something to respond to beyond the typical “issue” questions. Instead of asking about national health care, ask John Edwards if he’d like to go jogging with you. Instead of wondering how Bill Richardson feels about steroids in professional sports, challenge him to a ping- pong match. Ever wondered what type of shoes Barack Obama buys? Ask him. Curious about what Hillary Clinton’s favorite Salma Hayek movie is? Fire away.

This would surly endear the candidates to voters, not to mention bedazzle a national audience. I took an impromptu poll around the office and here is a sample of some questions people would like the candidates to answer:

• What is your favorite comic strip?
• Quote a line from your favorite movie.
• What is currently on your iPod?
• What is your favorite junk food?
• Which 1980s sitcom character best represents you and why?
• Do you like me, or do you like me like me?
• What laundry detergent do you use?

The point is that these questions are actually fun, and interesting. Even better, I guarantee that if you ask Dennis Kucinich what his favorite vacuuming technique is, he will tell you, seriously, using big important words.

The national media considers New Hampshirites to be a bunch of folksy wisdom-spouting rubes anyway, so why not go for it? With more states trying to horn in on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status, changing the tone of the conversation might actually do the state some good.

And if in the process one of the candidates actually figures out how to repair global warming, well, that would be just fine.