I am someone who has been a son, husband, father, friend, date, and who has worked for a variety of people at a variety of companies. In those roles I am asked questions by almost everyone.
A couple of years after my divorce I was going out with a very pretty and bright psychologist. During our third date, I became "Bill Clinton" type annoyed at her asking me things like: "Why did you say that, or why did you do that, or why did you wear that?"
I told her that while she was a psychologist, and I was just an electrical engineer who was working in the television business, I wanted to comment about what she was asking me and how she was asking it.
I suggested that there were of course "why" questions that were in search of information and that hers did not fit into that category. I went on to suggest that her "why" questions were not really in search of information, but were rather covert statements of disagreement. She argued with me for a couple of minutes, became quite introspective, and said that while she never before thought about it this way, and that it was probably true.
Notwithstanding "sexual" things done by President Clinton, he was/is the smartest, most effective President in my lifetime.
To set what I am going to say into some sort of proper context, I have never been a working journalist for one minute in my life. I have never really interviewed anyone other then perspective employees and dates. My opinion concerning the following matters primarily to me and perhaps my grandchildren, yet I am not sure of that.
Yesterday Chris Wallace interviewed President Clinton on Fox News, long noted for their "fair and balanced journalism." Wallace asked Clinton a "why" question concerning the 1993 U.S. withdrawal from Somalia and the bombings connected to al-Qaeda. "Why didn't you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?" What answer did Wallace expect from this type of question? Could there be an answer to it? I would ask Wallace if there was a reason that he asked the question.
Would Wallace 63 years ago have asked President Roosevelt "why did you not do more to prevent the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor", or would he have asked President Bush "why did you not do more last year when you knew Katrina was coming?" even though there could be an answer to the Katrina question, and it took place only a year ago. Notwithstanding that both questions are without answers and should not be asked in this way. I loved it when Clinton said "But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted."
If Wallace was indeed looking for an answer, but not framing an indictment he might have asked "Mr. President, looking back 13 years, and having the benefit of hindsight, what if anything would you do differently concerning the potential terrorist threats to our country?"
Perhaps a better and less inflammatory question for Wallace to have asked would have been: Sir, why did you find Ms. Lewinsky attractive enough to have any sexual contact with her whatsoever? Now Chris that is a "why" question America (and I) would like an answer to.
Perhaps I am being unfair to journalists when I speculate as to the reasons that so many broadcast guys specialize in "gotcha" questions rather then those that could just possibly clarify things for the viewers in particular and Americans in general? Instead of "why," might I suggest "what were some of the reasons that you..." or "in retrospect, what did you do that you now regret?"
I should call the psychologist whom I had dated and ask her why she thinks I object to why questions.