Bill Richardson tried his hardest anyway to draw distinctions with the other candidates. He attacked Obama, Clinton, and Edwards for not pledging to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq forever. "I want an answer to that," he pleaded. "I can't get it in other debates, so I'm hoping that today—this will be a challenge to the other candidates, why and for how long will they keep troops behind?" Richardson sounded a little desperate, and when Bill Maher asked whether voters "can't take the truth and have to be lied to," Richardson defended them as if their innate wisdom would rescue him from obscurity. They take him seriously as a candidate, he explained, and don't listen to the media that want to relegate him to second or third place. As if to make Richardson's point, Rose then followed up by asking Richardson whether he was really running to be vice president rather than president.
The best question. Press critics swarm after every debate with a list of the zingers and truth-exposing questions they would ask if only they had the chance. They assume that merely asking the question will get the desired answer. Bill Maher asked a sensible right-between-the-eyes question of Hillary Clinton about her vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq: "Sen. Clinton, all the senators here, except Sen. Obama, voted for the Iraq resolution in 2002, saying that their decision was based on intelligence that they believed to be accurate at the time. In other words, George Bush fooled you. Why should Americans vote for someone who can be fooled by George Bush?" This was a great question, and Sen. Clinton's answer was nearly identical to the one she has given so many times before in discussing her Iraq vote. Sometimes a great question doesn't get you any closer to a deeper answer.