In appreciation: Gwen Ifill, 1955-2016

The right question — thoughtful, relevant, bold — can catch even the most prepared politician off guard.

It seems a generation ago, but it was just 12 years. Barack Obama was an Illinois senator who had given a memorable speech at the summer’s Democratic National Convention. John Kerry was running against the incumbent President George W. Bush. On Oct. 5 2004, at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, Republican Vice President Dick Cheney and his Democratic challenger John Edwards were in a debate, and moderator Gwen Ifill asked just such an incandescent question.