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Open question? 尚无定论

中国日报网 2022-07-26 15:17


Reader question:

Please explain “open question” in this sentence: The presidential race remains an open question after the latest results were released.

My comments:

Who’s going to win the presidential race and become the next president?

That question remains unanswered – after the latest results are in.

That’s what “open question” means here.

Open question?

Yeah, open to all sorts of possibilities. Open as against closed. After the final results are in, after all the ballots are counted, after the candidate who’s got the most votes is declared winner, then the race is over.

Then, the question as to who’s going to be the next president will be closed, closed as in closed for business.

Everything is settled, then. The presidential question, so to say, is finally answered.

In our example, the question is not answered. The presidential race is not over. The candidates have garnered more or less the same amount of votes. The two candidates, say, have each got about 50 percent of the votes.

In other words, no clear winner has emerged.

So the question, who’s going to be the next president, is still an open question, open for speculation, open for debate, open until the final results are in.

In short, an open question is a question for which an answer has not yet been found.

All right, here are media examples of “open question”:

1. Retired British spy Christopher Steele is stepping out of the shadows to discuss his so-called “Steele dossier” for the first time publicly, describing his efforts as apolitical and defending his decision to include the most explosive and criticized claims about Donald Trump contained in his controversial 2016 report.

“I stand by the work we did, the sources that we had, and the professionalism which we applied to it,” Steele said in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos about how he gathered his intelligence, and the life-altering events that ensued after his work and identity were made public.

The dossier’s contents, laid out in 17 memos, upended Washington and quickly ricocheted across the globe after BuzzFeed News published the bombshell reports in early 2017 – 10 days before Donald Trump was sworn into office. The salacious mix of sex, spies, and scandal made for an irresistible political drama. But the real-world implications of its claims, even though unproven, exacerbated an already fraught moment in American history.

Trump and his allies immediately lashed out at the allegations laid out in the dossier, calling it “fake news” and “phony stuff.” The president’s detractors embraced it, using it to buttress growing suspicions about what they saw as Trump’s odd infatuation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Over time, journalists and experts from both sides of the political aisle grew increasingly skeptical about the dossier’s claims, noting that despite deep investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and others, many of Steele’s allegations have never been verified, and some have been debunked.

“Everyone with whom the dossier was shared sent reporters out, tried to confirm the basic allegations within it. And it never got any traction because no one could nail anything in it down,” said Barry Meier, author of “Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies,” and a vocal critic of Steele’s.

“Bearing in mind, this was raw intelligence,” said Chris Burrows, Steele’s partner in the private investigative firm Orbis Business Intelligence. “Raw intelligence in the sense that what we sent over was the initial findings.”


Steele’s dossier took its first major hit with the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report, which largely omitted mention of Steele’s name or his claims. The most significant mention of Steele was not positive.

The report cast doubt on one of the dossier’s most striking claims: that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, had traveled to Prague in the summer of 2016 for “secret meeting/s with Kremlin officials.”

Cohen has vehemently denied ever traveling to Prague or meeting with Russian interlocutors. The Justice Department inspector general reinforced Mueller’s findings, saying the FBI had determined that this specific allegation was untrue.

To this day, Steele says he remains unmoved.

“Do you accept that finding, that it didn’t happen?” asked Stephanopoulos.

“No,” Steele replied. “I don’t.”

“But the FBI looked into this and said it wasn’t true,” Stephanopoulos said.

“I don’t know to what extent they were able to look into it. I don’t know what evidence they gathered,” Steele said. “I haven’t seen any, if you like, report on that aspect. So, from my point of view, I think it’s still an open question.

- Out of the Shadows: Christopher Steele defiant on dossier, says Trump still ‘potential’ threat, ABCNews.com, October 18, 2021.

2. Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have all said they’ll publicly take a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to underline their confidence in it.

But the White House said Monday that it’s still an “open question” whether President Donald Trump would need to do so after himself recovering from the virus.

During a press call about vaccine development and distribution, a senior administration official said that the idea of Trump, 74, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is “certainly something that is under consideration.”

“As you know, the president recovered from COVID. And so I think there is something that’s up for discussion as to whether someone who’s recovered from COVID and has antibodies would necessarily be a high priority for receiving the vaccine and for the purposes of vaccine confidence. But he’s expressed his willingness,” the official told reporters.
- Trump’s Need to Take Vaccine on TV Still an ‘Open Question’ Since He Had COVID-19, White House Says, People.com, December 8, 2020.

3. Minnesota to California, Florida, Ohio, South Carolina, New York and many, many places in between.

Abortion rights activists across the country are meeting the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade with a blitz of dissent. Their potent outrage can be felt far beyond Washington, with celebrities, companies and advocacy groups helping to fuel it – both online and off.

It’s all rooted in the high court's decision to eliminate nearly 50 years of precedent. But it’s also a powerful measure of the growing gap between the US people and their highest court.

Consider this: Most Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll conducted Friday and Saturday in the immediate wake of the ruling. And polling taken before the Supreme Court ruling showed a broad majority of Americans did not want to see the landmark 1973 abortion ruling struck down.

In a May CNN poll conducted immediately after the leak of the Supreme Court's draft opinion on the case, Americans said, 66% to 34%, that they did not want the court to completely overturn the decision. In fact, in CNN’s polling dating back to 1989, the share of the public in favor of completely overturning Roe has never risen above 36%.

Unapologetic majority. Instrumental in Friday’s ruling were the three justices former President Donald Trump placed on the court: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Together with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, the conservative wing of the court penned a forceful majority opinion.


Up for grabs are not just public-carry laws like the New York rule before the court. Virtually any other type of gun regulation, including age-based regulations, restrictions on certain types of firearms and limits on high-capacity magazines, will now be viewed by courts in a harsher light.

Yet a recent Gallup survey found a marked increase in support for stricter gun laws following last month's mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York.

About two-thirds of Americans (66%) say that laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, up 14 points since last fall and the highest since 2018. That increase comes across party lines, with 94% of Democrats now in favor of stricter laws along with 66% of independents and 38% of Republicans.

According to Gallup, that is the highest level of support since 2001 among Democrats, and it matches or nears the high points for independents and Republicans.

A majority also say they would prefer new laws on guns in addition to stricter enforcement of current laws (55%), while 42% say they would prefer to see stricter enforcement only.

This political will for more gun safety helped fuel the first major federal legislation in decades. The package represents the most significant new federal measure to address gun violence since the expired 10-year assault weapons ban of 1994.

If considering this as you read Thomas’ opinion – wherein he argues that gun restrictions must be measured by the nation’s history, not by a state’s assertion of urgent public safety interests – leaves you startled at the gap between court and country, you’re not alone. But what, if any, remedies could help link the high court and the people it serves remains an open question.

- Roe v. Wade outrage highlights growing rift between the American people and their highest court, CNN.com, June 27, 2022.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


Rock bottom? 跌至谷底


Baby steps? 慢慢来


Conventional wisdom? 传统智慧


Fall for a fairy tale? 被骗


Carry water? 俯首听命

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