Rachel Maddow's "stupid" questions were her best questions.

The Best Part of MSNBC’s Democratic Forum Was This “Stupid Thing”

The Best Part of MSNBC’s Democratic Forum Was This “Stupid Thing”

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Nov. 6 2015 9:51 PM

The Best Part of MSNBC’s Democratic Forum Was This “Stupid Thing”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: Television host Rachel Maddow arrives for a lunch hosted in honor of Prime Minister David Cameron at the State Department on March 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. Cameron is on an official visit to Washington, where President Obama will host him at a State Dinner tonight. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

The three candidates running for the Democratic nomination gathered in Rock Hill, S.C., on Friday night for a we-swear-it’s-not-a-debate forum hosted by MSNBC. The night didn’t provide much in the way of drama—or hard news per se—but it was sharp, well-produced, and generally informative for any voters who haven’t been paying close attention to the race to date.

It also had a lightning round of “stupid” questions (Rachel Maddow’s word, not mine) that were welcome moments of brevity and levity in conversations that (rightly) focused on serious issues like climate change, U.S. military intervention abroad, and the death penalty. Perhaps more surprisingly, all three candidates charmed—in their own particular way—in segments that might otherwise have been cringe-worthy.


Martin O’Malley proved he really is a presidential candidate straight out of central casting—from the end of the last century:

Bernie Sanders nailed his grumpy-but-beloved old man shtick:

Hillary Clinton was, well, Hillary Clinton:

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.