A quick word about “gotcha” questions

Every election cycle, one or more political candidates will be heard whining and pissing and moaning about “gotcha questions”. We are hearing it right now from several GOP candidates following the most recent debate.
Be careful about taking that whining at anything like face value. If you define a “gotcha” question as a question to which there is no answer that makes the answerer look good, there are very few true “gotcha” questions. (Questions like “when did you stop beating your wife” or “does this dress make me look fat?” while amusing, are not exactly common in the political arena).
Most of the time, when a politician is whining about a “gotcha” question what they really mean is:
Question that if I answer it, either makes me look like an ill-informed doofus, or which makes my political party look like it is dominated by squabbling children.
If a question is genuinely defective, it should be possible for a political candidate to explain to the questioner why the question is defective. Whenever I hear somebody dismissing a question as a “gotcha” question, I know I am hearing somebody who is trying to shut down the conversation instead of providing any useful answer.


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