Now you have to admit, in the midst of all the primary craziness, that this tale from the front lines is kind of fun. The item in question is from Roger Simon's "Inside New Hampshire" feature over at the Politico. It's based on one of those old sayings you hear all the time in journalism school, that the "only dumb question is the one you do not ask." Actually, the way I used to hear it was that the only dumb question is the question that you did not ask, especially if you did not know the answer to it and, later, the information turned out to be crucial to your story.
Anyway, this is a classic "dumb question" anecdote that is, of course, linked to the press and its religion blind spot. Simon writes:
At a press availability with Hillary Clinton (and, as far as I can tell, the only difference between a press availability and a press conference is that reporters get to sit down at a press conference) a reporter pointed to Clinton's bracelet and asked: "Is that a crucifix?"
Clinton seemed a little taken aback. "I'm sorry, what?" she said.
"Is that a crucifix?" the reporter repeated.
"It's a cross," Clinton replied.
Clinton, who has a staggering range of knowledge and isn't afraid to show it off, had it right, of course: A crucifix has the depiction of the body of Jesus on it and a cross does not.
But the reporter had his follow-up ready.
"Does it have religious significance?" he asked.
Everybody erupted in laughter. Does a cross have religious significance? Is that what he really asked?
"Talk about the secular press!" Clinton said.
Actually, as a friend noted in an email tip about this nugget, the reporter may have been asking a different question: Does this cross have religious significance to you?" That's a fairly logical question, although it is not unheard of for a United Methodist to wear a cross.
Now, back to the primaries.