Dem Senate candidates face ‘burning’ debate question: ‘When was the last time you cried?’

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Political debates are supposed to be events where candidates should face and have to answer tough, substantive questions about the issues of the day and those facing their own districts.

And during a Tuesday evening debate between incumbent U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and challenger Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, there were some fireworks and some tough questions each of them faced.

But since debate time is limited, it becomes vital that every question asked is substantive so that voters have as much opportunity as possible to evaluate the candidates.

Yet, at one point during their debate, Markey and Kennedy were asked an odd question that, frankly, has little to do with anything in terms of the issues facing their state or the country: When the last time was they shed tears.

No doubt the question caught the two of them — and, likely, many of the debate’s viewers — off-guard.

“When was the last time you cried?” moderator Ed Harding of WCVB Channel 5 Boston asked Kennedy first, without seeking any further details.

“Yesterday,” Kennedy answered after taking a moment. He did not elaborate.

“It was on Sunday at an event, when I heard a statement that was made that was just so powerful, I could not stop… in my emotional reaction,” Markey responded, and he also did not elaborate.

Harding did not explain his reason for the question but merely moved quickly to the next one as his ‘lightning round’ of queries continued.

Even if the question was designed to provide voters with some sort of insight into the humanity or character of the two candidates, without context, their answers are essentially meaningless.

And the question also puts new emphasis on the differences between how media figures treat Democratic and Republican candidates.

Consider then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s first debate question to then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” she said, as Trump interjected: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”

The question upset Trump, who proceeded to boycott the next Fox News debate because Kelly was on the moderation panel. Instead, he held a fundraiser for the Wounded Warriors organization, which helps provide support to veterans injured in the line of duty.

“He was obviously upset. That’s fine. He’s running for president, it’s not a fun business, there’s going to be ups and downs, and I know he considered that a down,” Kelly would later explain.

And indeed, politics is a ‘blood sport,’ many consider. But it’s clear to Republican voters that the so-called ‘mainstream media’ is a lot more hostile to their candidates than to Democrats, generally speaking.

What’s more, a majority of GOP voters don’t even think the media contribute much to society.

“Republicans say 51 – 36 percent that the media is the enemy of the people rather than an important part of democracy,” said an August 2018 Quinnipiac poll, in which respondents agreed with the president’s characterization.

Democratic respondents, meanwhile, overwhelmingly said Trump’s ‘enemy of the people’ comments would lead to violence against the media.

That has happened — but the attacks have come from Left-wing anarchists rioting in cities like Portland.

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Jon Dougherty

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