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Friday, November 16, 2007

Diamonds and/or Pearls

posted by on November 16 at 10:45 AM

What was up with that weird (and seemingly inspired-by-Prince) closing question at the debate last night?

MARIA PARRA SANDOVAL: Maria Parra Sandoval, and I’m a UNLV student. And my question is for Senator Clinton. This is a fun question for you. Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?



CLINTON: Now, I know I’m sometimes accused of not being able to make a choice. I want both.



MALVEAUX: Do we get to ask any of the other candidates or I supposed just Senator Clinton?

BIDEN: I’m for diamonds. Diamonds.

Marc Ambinder has the explanation for all this, and some back-and-forth between Ms. Sandoval, a Truman Scholar who is furious because she wanted to ask a more substantive question, and CNN, which had had enough of substance by the end of the debate.

Also: CNN has apparently done this before.

RSS icon Comments


I thought it was a ZZ Top reference.

Posted by DOUG. | November 16, 2007 10:55 AM

How the hell was she "forced" to do anything in a live debate format? Couldn't she have stood up and said "Senator Clinton: spit or swallow?" or anything she damn well pleased? Oooh, CNN told her she had to! Oh no!!! What could they possibly do if she asked her own question?

Sure, CNN shouldn't be telling people what to ask, but for crying out loud, people have to submit meekly in order for that to work.

Posted by Levislade | November 16, 2007 10:58 AM

She was just following orders

Posted by twee | November 16, 2007 10:59 AM

Holy crap.

We are in the midst of a "war on terror", whatever the hell that is, we have no health care, the real estate market is tanking, our dollar is tanking, global warming is fucking the entire planet, our government is swimming in red ink and the deficit is getting worse all the time, Bush is doing everything he can to gut the Constitution, corporations are getting more powerful and unions less powerful and jobs going overseas at an alarming rate, and we are importing toxic toys.

And this ditz thinks it's important to know if a presidential candidate prefers diamonds or pearls?

No wonder we end up with people like Bush in the White House.

Posted by SDA in SEA | November 16, 2007 11:13 AM

On the linked page, I thought her response to the criticism against her was pretty good.

That being said, if she had a problem with the Diamonds v. Pearls thing, she could have just not asked a question at all. But, if it was a hectic environment, CNN people saying do this, this, this!, maybe she wasn't thinking about how people would react to the question and just went with the flow.

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 11:19 AM

SDA, if you read her comments on the linked page, it's clear this girl is no ditz.

That said, it was a weird and sucky way to close the debate. Not that everything has to be so painfully serious all the time (Boxers vs. briefs has made it into the history books, after all), but it was uncomfortably... fluffy. Or something. It felt wrong.

Posted by sniggles | November 16, 2007 11:25 AM

What do you expect when CNN gets their questions written by dirty scabs?

Posted by elenchos | November 16, 2007 11:26 AM

If she wanted to ask a more substantive question, WHY DIDN'T SHE? They weren't moving her lips for her. I'm sorry, Truman Scholar or no, "policy memo" on Yucca Mountain (yawn) or no, she's a ditz.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 11:28 AM

Are we sure she wasn't asking about Pokemon games?

Posted by Eric F | November 16, 2007 11:30 AM

@8 - Exactly. Or maybe not a ditz, but definitely a coward.

Posted by Levislade | November 16, 2007 11:30 AM

@8 - agreed. It was the last question of the debate - what would they do, exactly? Kick her out?

Posted by tsm | November 16, 2007 11:36 AM

To be fair, they had already talked about Yucca Mountain. She had time to come up with another substantive question.

Posted by laterite | November 16, 2007 11:38 AM

I guess you could say that, 8&10. She's all of 15 years old, though. I'm 32, and if I was standing there in front of all those people with bright lights on me and CNN was all, "ASK THE DIAMONDS QUESTION! THE DIAMONDS!", I'm sure I'd ask the stupid question.

I am, however, not a Truman Scholar.

Posted by sniggles | November 16, 2007 11:41 AM

The more worrisome issue to me is that CNN ran a fake debate with fake questions. That's the kind of shit you expect from Fox News or the White House Press Secretary, not CNN. But then, CNN hasn't actually been valuable since 1991 anyway.

Posted by Greg | November 16, 2007 11:47 AM

@12 -- all the questions had to be pre-approved. Of course, she could have asked a non-pre-approved question or her original question. But, the candidates had already talked about Yucca Mountain, so, whatever, nobody wanted to hear them say more about it.

The people asking questions at these things are tools of the debate hosts, nothing more. CNN is like we want a question about this topic, that topic, etc. and they select someone who asked one of those questions. They wanted a "fun" question to end the debate, and so they said, hey you, ask your "fun" question. If it wasn't her it would have been someone else.

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 11:49 AM

"Didn't Monica get the string of pearls?" she asked, diamond hard.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | November 16, 2007 11:52 AM

OK, so she's 15. I wouldn't have been able to speak at all when I was 15. But what she should have done is say "my question about Yucca Mountain has already been asked, and they want me to ask a stupid question about diamonds and pearls, but I don't want to. Do you think the questions should be rigged like this?"

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 11:52 AM

@13 -- totally agree. This woman really wanted to ask her Yucca Mountain question, so she filled out CNN's form or whatever, which asked for a list of both your serious and non-serious questions. CNN picked someone else to ask the Yucca Mountain question (or did Wolf ask it, I forget). So, they were like, ask this stupid question or nothing. There could have been some hectic time pressure as well, who knows.

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 11:55 AM

Where are you getting that she's 15? She's a college student, isn't she?

Posted by Levislade | November 16, 2007 12:00 PM

I don't see what everyone's problem with the questions being "rigged" are. The questions are "rigged" during the moderated portions anyways. If they weren't pre-selected during the audience portion, then we'd have had 7 questions on Yucca Mountain, or random, ridiculous questions/rants (think Pastor Hutch at the Microsoft shareholder meeting).

The whole thing is obviously not a "real" debate anyways, so whatever.

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 12:00 PM

Actually, the question was meant to reveal if Senator Clinton is, in fact, a lesbian, according to a YouTube commenter here who reported: "I'm not 100% sure on this but i think that was a coded way of asking her sexuality. diamonds would mean straight and pearls would mean lesbian."

Posted by it's me | November 16, 2007 12:10 PM

I thought it was a good coded question planted by her operatives.

You're not the target audience it was intended for.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 12:11 PM

Pearls means lesbians? I got Mrs. Fnarf some pearls, but I didn't get any lesbians.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 12:22 PM

she's 15 & she gets to ask a question at a presidential debate?


Posted by max solomon | November 16, 2007 12:50 PM

Making a statement that includes the words "according to a YouTube commenter" automatically renders that statement false.

The girl is not 15. Apparently, she set her MySpace profile to 15 to increase her privacy settings.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | November 16, 2007 12:53 PM

Bring back the Lincoln-Douglas debate format. Get rid of the smarmy moderators.
Questions should be vetted simply to weed out "what's your favorite color?" Then let 'em go at it unimpeded by the slanted media process. Mano-a-Womano...

Posted by MASS DEBATERS | November 16, 2007 12:56 PM


Posted by Carollani | November 16, 2007 12:58 PM

Uhhh... what I wrote and what didn't appear in my last comment was:

I love Biden. He's the only candidate with an actual living, breathing, witty sense of humor.

Biden for VP!

Posted by Carollani | November 16, 2007 1:00 PM

please. she set her myspace profile to 15 so she could get more dates.

i'm surprised no one at slog has jumped all over the sheer tackiness of asking the only female candidate a question about fucking JEWELRY.

Posted by brandon | November 16, 2007 1:01 PM

Bit slow on the uptake, aren't you, Brandon? That's what this thread is about.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 1:13 PM


YES that's the best we can hope for, and I'd love to see it happen. For whatever reason, people don't see him as electable (I disagree) but people can't deny that Biden knows his shit- even the other candidates frequently agree with him during debates and acknowledge his experience, accomplishments, and his proposals.

why do i feel like the only biden supporter in america?

Posted by agreed | November 16, 2007 1:14 PM

guess so, fnarf. i thought it was about the tackiness of planting a question in the audience.

sorry, i always score really low on the reading comprehension portion of standardized tests.

Posted by brandon | November 16, 2007 1:29 PM

um, as a lesbian, i take offense to the whole "lesbians prefer pearls" thing. don't you know the lesbians prefer jewelry made out of hemp?

Posted by kim | November 16, 2007 1:40 PM

brandon - no worries. I think we all just took it for granted that it was ridiculous to ask the only female candidate about jewelry, so instead focused on the whole how did the question get there thing.

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 1:40 PM

in my own defense, what i meant by my original comment was that i was expecting more grumbling from certain, very specific corners of the slogosphere that tend to burst into flames when shit like this happens.

still, i'm kind of slow at times...

Posted by brandon | November 16, 2007 2:11 PM

...and i'm also surprised that it took 16 comments before a monica/pearl necklace joke came up.

Posted by Bubba BaBoom | November 16, 2007 2:12 PM

I agree with @21. It was a coded question, and Clinton was savvy enough to provide an answer that works on both a textual and subtextual level. Well played, Clinton, well played...but I'm still voting for Obama.

Posted by Kathy Fennessy | November 16, 2007 2:53 PM

agreed@31- I gave Biden some $$$ after the last debate. You're not alone. His numbers seem to be staying the cellar, though. Veep material?

Posted by Big Sven | November 16, 2007 3:45 PM

"They can have their diamonds
And we'll have our pearls"

-Jill Sobule, _I_Kissed_A_Girl_

Posted by Big Sven | November 16, 2007 3:47 PM

That's it, Brandon. Our date's off!

Posted by Irena | November 16, 2007 4:38 PM

c'mon - cut me some slack, irena! if it's any consolation, i consider bursting into flames to be a very endearing quality :)

Posted by brandon | November 16, 2007 4:56 PM

Okay, it's on again. (And I promise to recommend you to all the most flaming guys I know.)

Posted by Irena | November 16, 2007 8:46 PM

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