Example: how to make a question for a politician better (Obama healthcare)
The Administration has repeatedly claimed that its health care reform plan will not cover illegal aliens. The Congressional Research Service recently issued a report contradicting the Administration's position, stating "H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on non-citizens whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently participating in the Exchange." Is the Congressional Research Service in error? If so, where is the error?
The problem with that question - as with the other questions on their page and as with most of the other questions that people ask politicians - is that whoever wrote it didn't think through what would happen after it was asked.
In this case, they're asking Obama to comment on something he most likely hasn't read. All he would have to do is (probably truthfully) say that he hasn't read the CRS report, and then say that he'll look into it and reference other language preventing them from getting coverage and then seque into a stock speech. In other words, Obama would be able to easily deflect questions like that.
Now, compare that with the question in the second update here; the original post was in mid-August and the update was sometime around the end of August, meaning that either question could have been asked at one of the townhalls that were occurring at that time.
The question in the update at the last link was designed to box in the person being asked the question, asking them to commit to something that they could promise without having to do research (such as reading the CRS' report) first. That promise could then be held against them if they didn't follow through and could have been, for instance, used in their opponents' advertising. If they didn't follow through, follow-ups could have been asked of them at future townhalls.
In order to hold politicians accountable, you have to think ahead, and the tea parties have shown they aren't capable of that.