No Such Thing as a Stupid Question?

The Democratic presidential candidates’ debate Monday night really brought out the best in my generation.

The event, sponsored by CNN and “Rock the Vote,” was in front of an audience of 18-to-30-year-old Democrats, from which most of the questions for the candidates came. Quickly viewers learned why it is that most question-asking in presidential debates is left to people who act like adults, particularly adult journalists.

Parents routinely tell their children that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Parents are liars. The debate last night proved that to be the case. (Perhaps it showed less about the questions and more about the question-askers. I remember hearing someone once say, “There are no stupid questions – just stupid people who ask questions.”)

Consider some of the vital questions these Democrats-for-years-to-come asked.

Go to the pen

  • [To Sen. Kerry] You’re the manager of the Boston Red Sox. [???] It’s game seven. [???] It’s game seven of the ALCS versus the New York Yankees. Your starting pitcher appears to be tiring. You know it’s best for the team to replace him, but the star asks to stay in. Do you make an executive decision and take him out? Or do you listen to your star and let him, the person who you hired in that role, and let him finish that job?
  • Boxers. Briefs. Macs. PCs.

  • I’m a freshman at Brown University. And going to college this year, I was confused with an important decision. My mom advised me one way; my dad the other. And so my question for you all is — and it’s not quite boxers or briefs, but Macs or PCs?
  • Finding oneself

  • My question is this: Who were you when you were 20 years old? And did you ever think that you would run for president?
  • Help me get paid to volunteer

  • Hi, good evening. Ambassador Braun, my question is, in the State of the Union address, President Bush encouraged more young Americans to give back to their country and join AmeriCorps, our national service program. Yet this year, thousands of people were turned away from AmeriCorps and national service because of mismanagement and lack of funding. I was wondering what you plan to do to grow AmeriCorps? And also what your feeling is on the national service movement and how you can assure that young people who want to serve for barely minimum wage are going to be able to do so and give back to their community?
  • I’m bored: Impress me

  • Like many youths, I haven’t fully gotten behind any one candidate. What are you going to do to impress me and other youths in this year that we have ahead of us? And what ultimately makes you the strongest candidate that can defeat an incumbent president?
  • Did this come from HILLPAC?

  • [Senator Kerry] what do you think about the recent polls that put Hillary Clinton 20 percent ahead of all you guys?
  • College-level sex ed?

  • The Bush administration promotes abstinence as the only way to protect against STDs and pregnancy, there is no mention of condoms or birth control. And I just wanted to know what you think is the best way to handle sex education.
  • Goodness, it’s empty in here

  • My question is this. What’s the first thing going through your head the morning you wake up in the White House?
  • Why, some of my best friends are gay

  • What’s your personal comfort level with homosexuals? And do you have any gay friends?
  • Asked and answered

  • We had a photo from The New York Times this Sunday, two guys who . . . went up to Canada to get married. What about that makes you uncomfortable?
  • Poor, poor birds

  • Senator Kerry, why did you have to kill those two pheasants in Iowa last week? Do you find it necessary to kill animals for photo-ops?
  • Yes. But did you inhale?

  • Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?
  • A party I hope to miss???

  • Going along with this less serious note, but still this is a question of a lot of importance to me, I think. You guys seem to get to know each other fairly well. I’d be curious to find out, if you could pick one of your fellow candidates to party with, which you would choose. But keeping in mind, partying isn’t just, you know, who do you think can shake their groove thing. I mean, we’re talking, who’s going to be loyal to you? Who is going to stand by your side? If you get sick, who’s going to hold your hair back? There’s more. There’s more to it. Who’s going to be a team player, you know, if you — imagine if you were single again. If you see a cutie across the room, who’s going to be your wing man? Who’s going to take one for the team?