For the second time in this presidential cycle, we must talk about time travel.
In July, we pointed out that time travel is theoretically possible but that Marco Rubio was correct in saying that you can't "win the future" by "hopping in Hillary Clinton's time machine to yesterday." The reason why involves "Back to the Future," so go read that if you want.
But now, a more urgent question: Which Republicans would kill an infant Adolf Hitler, thereby altering the course of history?
The question has come to prominence thanks to the New York Times, the Axis to The Washington Post's Allies. In October, the paper asked its readers if they "could kill a Baby Hitler," with a plurality responding "yes."
— NYT Magazine (@NYTmag) October 23, 2015
It's a weird question, to be honest. Like, couldn't most adults kill a baby if they had to? Not to be grim, but "could" is a weird word here. Technically, without a time machine, no one "could" kill baby Hitler. But we'll assume that the problem is simply that the Times has worse copy editors than we do and that the paper meant "would" you kill baby Hitler, if it were possible.
The question prompted a slew of "baby Hitler" thinkpieces on ye olde World Wide Web, including an assessment here at The Post of what a Hitler-less Europe would have looked like. Some people proposed other, less-fatal uses of the time machine: Maybe just kidnap the baby, maybe encourage Hitler's art more robustly, maybe ease up with the Treaty of Versailles, and so on.
But because 1) this was a thing that was being talked about on Twitter and 2) Twitter is where the media hangs out when it's not doing battle with a CMS and 3) we are already 19 years into the presidential election cycle, the baby-Hitler-killing question was raised with presidential candidates. As of Wednesday, Nov. 11, it has been asked of two Republicans, meaning that we're just going to go ahead and start keeping a running log of everyone's answers.
After all: If this article exists, baby Hitler has not yet been killed. And if the Department of Defense finalizes a time machine in the next four years (which, again, if you clicked above you'll know is sort of possible, maybe), you'll want to know if the person you've elected will have the wherewithal to go back in time with that time machine to kill that little tiny Austrian baby. (We should also ask candidates if they have the temerity to do it themselves, instead of sending Seal Team Six or whoever.)
As of writing, here are the responses from the candidates. (We cropped a picture of Hitler from this World War II propaganda poster because Hitler sort of looks like a baby in it.)
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Bush eagerly embraced the idea of murdering an innocent child, Minority Report-style.
"Hell yeah I would," Bush exclaimed eagerly, in an unusually bellicose move for a Bush. But! "The problem with going back in history and doing that, as we know from the series -- what's the name of the Michael Fox movies?" Back to the Future, Jeb. "It could have a dangerous effect on everything else."
"But I'd do it," he said with a shrug. "Hitler."
Verdict: MURDER THE BABY
On Wednesday, Carson was asked whether or not he would abort a baby Hitler, a slightly different -- and more politically loaded! -- question than what the Times posed.
Carson opposes abortion in cases of rape and incest and also in the event that it is known in advance that the baby will go on to gain power in Europe that he will then leverage to attempt to impose his vision of racial purity on the world.
Carson is not clear on whether he'd support an abortion to protect the life of a mother.
Verdict: DON'T ABORT THE BABY
Somewhat after the fact, Donald Trump appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in December where host Jimmy Kimmel asked him, first, if Jeb Bush would actually murder the baby. Trump said no, he's too nice. Then Kimmel asked Trump if he would kill the little tiny baby child.
Trump's response? "No comment."
What kind of answer is that, Big D? It's a baby who will grow up to murder millions of people. Everyone has an opinion on that, that's the whole point. When will Donald Trump stake out a firm position on a controversial issue?
Verdict: NO ONE KNOWS
That is all we've got so far. Don't worry, people about to complain about this article in the comments or on social media. The Washington Post will cover no other story until we get an answer to this from everyone. We're on the case.