Questions about whether a politician has minority friends usually only get asked of Republican candidates. But on Friday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was asked about her "most meaningful conversation" with an "African-American friend."
And her answer was just as cringe-inducing as any Republican's. First, she seemed stunned by the question. "Oh my gosh," she said. She went on with the typical response of claiming she has many black friends.
"Well, can I tell you I am blessed to have a crew of great friends, um, and I've had two chiefs-of-staff who were my African-American women friends, Maggie Williams and Cheryl Mills," Clinton said.
She added: "I have been blessed to have people by my side in politics, like [longtime Clinton insider] Minyon Moore, who's one of the leaders of my campaign. I've had a great group of young people, who I have been really motivated by and, frankly, learned from. So I really have had a lifetime of friendship, going back to my college years when one of my best friends was an African-American student."
Clinton also claimed her black friends have "tried to expand my musical tastes." Because, you know, all black people are just that into music. (This line drew applause. If a Republican said the same thing it would be deemed racist in a heartbeat).
Honestly, it would be a difficult question for anyone to answer regardless of the racial filtering. Can you think of the most meaningful conversation you've had, with anyone? I certainly can't, and definitely not on the spot.
But Clinton's response illustrates something important: White politicians always look ridiculous when they start talking about their minority friends. Seriously, they all look like George Costanza from the first 20 seconds of this clip.
GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump looked silly when he pointed to a black supporter and said: "Oh, look at my African American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?" He's also mentioned his "very rich Muslim" friends and his Mexican friends (and employees).
Two-time former presidential candidate Rick Santorum embarrassed himself when he mentioned his "gay friend."
Obviously, I do not have an exhaustive list of politicians talking about their minority friends, but you get the point. I don't have an answer for how Clinton should have answered the question, except to pray that it never came or to have a damn good example ready to go.
The fact of the matter is that so many politicians just look silly when they have to start talking about having friends of this or that minority group. Not only do they look out-of-touch, but they also look like they're pandering, using anonymous "friends" to bolster their credibility with a particular voting bloc.
My only hope is that the incident with Clinton today will show that it's not just Republicans who struggle with questions like this, it's just that Democrats aren't often asked them (for obvious reasons).
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.