Zen and the Art of Campaign Cycle Maintenance

01/28/2009 02:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

At the end of the town hall debate (which had all the warmth of a night at the morgue), Tom Brokaw asked the "Zen-like question" he received online: "What don't you know and when will you learn it?"

No doubt the questioner thought this would spark profound ruminations on the part of the two campaign-addled candidates, who are, at this point, incapable of formulating a thought they haven't already recited at a thousand rallies.

Even if the question had been "What would you like for dinner?" both McCain and Obama would have intoned how their dinner plans differ from one another, how each would pay for sides and how much money they would earmark for a tip.

Although it didn't inspire those two, Brokaw's question got me thinking about what my response would have been. I have narrowed the list down to just a few profound ruminations:

What I Don't Know: The meaning of Stairway to Heaven. I always thought I would figure this out by the time I grew up. I was wrong. I still don't know what a "bustle in your hedge row" is or a "spring clean for the May queen," either. For some reason a classic rock anthem that every high school kid has gotten stoned to for the past thirty-five years is too deep for me to understand.
When I Will Learn It: When all are one and one is all.

What I Don't Know: If It's a good idea giving a $700 billion bailout to the same people who screwed up the economy in the first place. Isn't this like "helping" an alcoholic by giving him a case of beer? Without any reforms built into the bailout, what are they going to do differently this time around? Isn't this just financial enabling?
When I Will Learn It: One day at a time.

What I Don't Know: What that thing is they built in Switzerland to test the origins of the universe. I saw this on 60 Minutes and I still don't get it. Are they trying to build a new universe? Isn't the one we have big enough? If this Swiss universe machine creates black holes, will they be neutral black holes?
When I Will Learn It: E=MC Never. I almost flunked physics in high school and I like Stephen Hawking, but only pretend to understand his easy-to-understand books.

What I Don't Know: Why we still have undecided voters. At this point, anyone who is undecided is just saying they are so they can get in opinion polls or interviewed on CNN. Undecided voters are like the really hot girls in high school who don't make up their minds who they're going to the big dance with until the day before.
When I Will Learn It: Maybe I will. Maybe I won't.

What I Don't Know: Whether or not 9/11 was an inside job. The financial collapse has taken the wind out of America's latest conspiracy theory. Probably the next conspiracy theory will be whether the financial collapse was an inside job. Let me be the first to say that it was--inside Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, WaMu and AIG.
When I Will Learn It: When William Shatner hosts the next conspiracy theory round-up show on the Sci-Fi Channel.

What I Don't Know: What we should do to avoid further George W. Bush disasters. It may not be possible to escape the most active lame duck in American history.
When I Will Learn It: All of us will probably learn too late that our only hope was to move into the new universe built by the Swiss.