So blatant an attempt at sneakiness is the complex question that none but the cleverest by half use it. That didn’t stop a very smirky Chris Wallace from throwing one at Clinton. In his infamous interview he asked the former President:
>Why didn’t you do more to put bin Laden and Al Qaida out of business when you were president?
As it has been pointed out by many on the internets, that’s a question of the “how long have you been beating your wife?”, or complex variety. There really isn’t anyway for Clinton to answer it without submitting to one of the question’s presuppositions. The question assumes an affirmative answer to the following implicit assertion:
1. Clinton didn’t do all he could have to stop Al Qaeda.
in order to ask the following:
2. What explains this failure?
But these are two separate issues. What does Wallace say? In Sunday’s New York Times Mag, he says:
>I think it was a straight news question, and I think it just touched a very raw nerve. The business I am in is asking probing questions and trying to get interesting answers. I think I succeeded admirably in my job.
It’s not a straight news question. It’s not a straight question. He should have asked the following two questions:
1. Do you think you did everything in your power to stop Al Qaeda?
2. If you don’t feel you did, what explains it?
Those are straight questions. Whether they’re straight news questions might be another matter.