Commentary: Obama's big questionnaire for nominees is nosy

Job prospects in the newspaper profession are looking bleaker than a Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium, so I am seeking work with the Obama administration.

Might as well aim high, I figure. Maybe an assistant deputy secretary in the newly created cabinet office of bailout supervision, or something along that line.

On the off chance that my appointment might require Senate confirmation or other high-level scrutiny, I am filling out the Big Questionnaire.

It’s a project. A job in itself. These people are nosy! I thought Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s questionnaire for judicial candidates was over the top, but this is much, much worse.

Since transparency is said to be a priority with the new administration, however, I am sharing my responses to some of the 63 questions. The rest you can no doubt find on the Internet if and when my confirmation hearings get under way.

Question No. 8: Briefly describe the most controversial matters you have been involved with during the course of your career.

Sputter. There have been so many.

A sports talk host trashed me on his show for weeks after I wrote that I liked Kemper Arena.

Phill Kline, at the time the Kansas attorney general, protested outside of my newspaper building because of an editorial I wrote.

Some Kansas City school board members said I was racist because I think they should be appointed instead of elected.

Lately, Mayor Mark Funkhouser thinks I am part of the media conspiracy to break up his marriage.

There’s a lot more, but you said "briefly," so I’ll stop here.

Question No. 13: If you have ever sent an electronic communication including but not limited to an e-mail, text message or instant message that could…be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.

Choke. I am sorry to have to inform you that the hidden reaches of cyberspace are rife with dumb jokes, absurd ideas and embarrassing revelations that could, just maybe, be traced to me.

Where to begin? Messages expressing a lousy attitude about work.

Really bad poetry sent to my husband. An exchange with my sisters about the stupidest things we did in high school. I will describe in more detail if I am selected for an interview.

Question No. 14: If you keep or have ever kept a diary that contains anything that could…be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.

I am burning my diaries tonight, so don’t worry about it.

Question No. 17: Have you or your spouse at any time belonged to any membership organization…that as a matter of policy or practice denied or restricted membership or affiliation based on race, sex, disability, ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation or has been subject to a claim that it has done so?

As a kid, I belonged to the Pioneer Girls, a churchy version of the Girl Scouts.

I now regret that I did not insist that our camp outs be more inclusive, and allow boys.

Currently, I participate in an all-female book club.

We do not specifically restrict guys, but none has expressed an interest in attending.

Question No. 62: Do you know anyone or any organization, either in the private sector or government service, that might take steps, overtly or covertly, fairly or unfairly, to criticize your nomination, including any news organization?


As I hinted in Question No. 8, I have over the years run afoul of anti-abortion groups, gun owners, death penalty supporters and, in an isolated incident, dog lovers.

But I am confident that I could weather any storm that my nomination stirs up.

If asked about any dumb things I have written in columns, I will plead deadline pressure.

That usually works. Besides, who among us is baggage-free?

Hope to hear from you soon!