Would you be able to kill a baby Hitler, if given the chance? It's a question that spread like wildfire after the New York Times asked it in a reader poll late last month. But, as the Daily Beast notes, the Times got the idea from Stephen Colbert. In a Late Show sketch earlier in the month, Colbert asked Tom Hanks what he would do with a time machine. "What would anyone do with a time machine? Go back in time and hold myself as a baby," Hanks replied. "And kill Hitler, right?" asked Colbert. "Oh, and kill Hitler. Yeah, sure," Hanks responded. The subsequent "would you do it?" question got so much traction that Jeb Bush recently fielded it and gave an enthusiastic "hell yeah" in response. In response to that, Colbert circled back to the subject Tuesday night on the Late Show.
"Now, I'm not running for president, but here's what I would do with a time machine: I, too, would travel back to the time of baby Hitler. But this is where where me and Jeb's time streams start to diverge, because I wouldn't kill young Adolf," Colbert said. "I would take him from his parents and raise him with love. I would give Hitler a safe, supportive home; all the while, I would watch him like a hawk. I wouldn't let him join anything where they have to wear a uniform—no Cub Scouts, no Little League, definitely no marching band. Most importantly, I would teach baby Hitler that we do not solve our problems with violence, and then, if he starts getting mouthy as a teenager, I'd stick a knife in his ribs and snap off the handle. And, if that attack fails and the horror of being stabbed by a person he thinks is his father turns him into a monstrous dictator, it's easily fixable: I'd just go back in time and kill baby me. You're welcome." (Click for more on Jeb's answer.)