Some examples, from the Washington Post transcript:
"Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?"The correct answer to this question is "nothing". Sure, a President can pursue policies that improve the economy and job market, and that's largely how both answered it, but in a free society no one should be able to tell another individual that they'll have a job after college.
"Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?"Of course it shouldn't be the policy of the Energy Department to lower gas prices. It shouldn't be the policy of any government agency to control prices in any way. It shows how far we've gone from a truly free market when it's assumed that it should be the goal of the government to lower prices. The government should facilitate the market, not steer it.
"In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?"There are inequalities in the workplace? But I thought President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which ended that. The premise of women making 72% less than men is even more wrong, as FactCheck.org explained recently. Women make less than men overall, not because of discrimination, but because women tend to work more part-time jobs, take more time off for pregnancy and other issues, and work less overtime. Both candidates of course used the opportunity to pander to women voters, but in a more mature political environment the question would never have been asked at all.
"Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive."More price control pandering.
"This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply (ph) in Minneola yesterday. We were sitting around, talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans. Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?"Nothing wrong with this question...except that it wasn't answered.
"President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?"
What exactly is an "assault weapon"? Are there weapons that are used for things other than "assault"? The additional premise that we can realistically limit the use of certain kind of weapons is just as ridiculous. Criminals don't care about the law; that's what makes them criminals. Tell me how hard it is to get illegal drugs in any urban area in the country.
"The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the United States?"
Outsourcing has not "taken a toll on our economy", it has provided us with inexpensive consumer products, new markets for our own companies to expand, efficient industries, and is almost exclusively used to serve foreign markets not "ship jobs overseas" that would otherwise stay here. Naturally both candidates used the opportunity to pander to low information voters in manufacturing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania who trend protectionist anyway.
I suppose we shouldn't expect rational and well-sourced questions from people who three weeks before a year-long election still haven't decided who to support, but at least we should seek to have the moderator or organizers limit the questions to those that are based in reality so the candidates aren't debating on false premises.