Attention all current and future presidential (and vice-presidential) candidates: You will be questioned.
Running for president is a long and intense job interview, and it takes place in front of an entire nation. It is an absolute requirement that you be extensively questioned. Voters must have enough information to determine whether you deserve their vote or not, and if you’re capable of being on the world’s stage.
We should always question candidates. When a candidate is outraged over that questioning, there is a deep problem. But this is nothing new, and we’ve seen the inability to answer straightforward questioning on both sides of the political aisle. If you’re a political candidate, you should and will be scrutinized, I don’t care which letter is next to your name. Too often, campaigning resembles the political equivalent of American Idol, and that is most unfortunate.
On September 3, Trump was on the Hugh Hewitt show again, having previously been a guest on August 29. On Thursday’s show, however, Hewitt asked Trump several questions about foreign leaders. He began with asking Trump about Qasem Soleimani, the head of Quds Force, a division of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard. The show’s transcript is here, and you’re free to see for yourself whether Hewitt’s line of questioning was of the “gotcha” type. From my point-of-view, if someone is interested in being commander-in-chief, and will be required to deal with Iran and other foreign players, they might want to read up on that subject matter and respond not with deflection, but with concrete ideas. Here is an excerpt:
HH: Well, Soleimani is to terrorism sort of what Trump is to real estate.
HH: Many people would say he’s the most dangerous man in the world, and he runs the Quds Forces, which is their Navy SEALs.
DT: Is he the gentleman that was going back and forth with Russia and meeting with Putin? I read something, and that seems to be also where he’s at.
HH: That’s the guy.
DT: He’s going back and forth meeting with other countries, etc., etc.
HH: That’s the guy.
DT: Not good.
HH: And so do you think…
DT: Not good for us. And what it shows is a total lack of respect, I mean, that the other countries would even be entertaining him, and they’re entertaining him big league, big league.
HH: So when you went before the Senate, and I always tell people my favorite testimony of all time is when Donald Trump just schooled the Senate on the construction of the U.N. remodel.
HH: You know that stuff. You know every developer in Manhattan. You know everything about building buildings. You could build the wall. I have no doubt about that.
DT: Right. By the way, and nobody knows how easy that would be. And I mean, it would be, it would be tall, it would be powerful, we would make it very good looking. It would be as good as a wall’s got to be, and people will not be climbing over that wall, believe me. Go ahead.
HH: You know, I’d buy that, because you’re a builder. But on the front of Islamist terrorism, I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief, to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?
DT: No, you know, I’ll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed. They’ll be all gone. I knew you were going to ask me things like this, and there’s no reason, because number one, I’ll find, I will hopefully find General Douglas MacArthur in the pack. I will find whoever it is that I’ll find, and we’ll, but they’re all changing, Hugh. You know, those are like history questions. Do you know this one, do you know that one. I will tell you, I thought you used the word Kurd before. I will tell you that I think the Kurds are the most under-utilized and are being totally mistreated by us. And nobody understands why. But as far as the individual players, of course I don’t know them. I’ve never met them. I haven’t been, you know, in a position to meet them. If, if they’re still there, which is unlikely in many cases, but if they’re still there, I will know them better than I know you.
Donald Trump’s tweet response after the interview:
Very low ratings radio host Hugh Hewitt asked me about Suleiman, Abu Bake al-Baghdad, Hassan Nasrallah and more – typical “gotcha” questions
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2015
When someone running for president believes that asking about key players is a “gotcha” question, and takes a dig at the host so they don’t feel so bad about their lack of doing pre-show homework, then there are deep, underlying problems. Firstly, you should know about them. If you don’t, you should learn about them. This isn’t for ratings on a reality show, but that seems to be where some exist; in a desire to entertain and garner ratings, all the while devoid of substance. Trump’s response after such an interview is akin to “that host is a loser poo-poo head”, yet he seriously asks for my support and vote? If this is any indication of his branding as a “fighter”, then the country under his presidency would be weak indeed.
Sarah Palin, in a Sunday interview on CNN, reacted to the Hewitt interview with this:
“I think I’d rather have a president who is tough and puts America first than can win a game of Trivial Pursuit. But I don’t think the public gives a flying flip if somebody knows who, today, is a specific leader of a specific region or a religion or anything,” she said. Palin added that it’s more important that candidates know information such as oil and energy production than “the leader of some tribe or a religion or even a country.”
While candidate [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] responded to questions about that same interview with the following:
“If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you are not going to be able to serve as commander and chief,” Rubio told CNN in an interview here.
“This should be part of the reason why you are running because you understand the threats that the world is facing, you have deep understanding and you understand what to do about it,” Rubio added. “And if someone doesn’t, I think it is very concerning.”
“National Security is the most important obligation of the federal government. If you are going to be a presidential candidate, you need to take this seriously.
Although Sarah Palin might be vying for a position in a future Trump administration (she admitted as much in her interview), I know her as a former unserious candidate. Her obvious support of an unserious candidate like Trump, and his support of her, says much about the lack of depth within that clique altogether. The obsession with splash over substance is a theme for his campaign. Don’t be fooled. We went down that road in 2008 and 2012.