Friday, September 04, 2015


It should absolutely terrify us that we might elect a president who's as cavalier about learning the details of the problems he's likely to face in office as Donald Trump is.

I say that, but I have to add that the American people have often shrugged this question off. They didn't seem to worry about Ronald Reagan's knowledge gaps, or George W. Bush's. That was especially true of Republican voters. Reagan and Bush seemed to hate the right people, and that was enough. They also, if you liked them, seemed to be rugged, manly jocks -- Reagan the horse-riding former lifeguard who played a football hero in the movies, Bush the bike-racing, brush-clearing smart-ass frat boy.

Trump is a different type of Big Man on Campus, but (at least among Republican voters) he's the jock all the cheerleaders are swooning over and all the lesser males want to be. Which is why it's actually going to help him that grade-grubbers are trying to embarrass him:
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt found something Donald Trump doesn’t win at on Thursday -- knowing his terrorists.

“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?” Hewitt asked the 2016 Republican candidate, referring to the respective leaders of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.

“No," Trump said....

Trump also mixed up the Quds Force, the elite foreign unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, with the Kurds -- the Middle Eastern ethnic group concentrated in nothern Iraq and parts of Iran, Syria and Turkey.
The fans don't care. The fans are on Trump's side. And I think a lot of Republican voters who are still on the fence might also be on Trump's side -- they don't know who all the players are, and they're likely to think Hewitt is coming off as an obnoxious know-it-all. It would be a different story, of course, if Hewitt had exposed ignorance on the part of someone they hate -- Jeb Bush, for instance. Or, as Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft says, the president:
Trump did not know the terror leaders with their repective Islamist organization.

So what.

Did Obama EVER have to answer a question like this.

Think, Hugh, Think!

Whose side are you on?
Hewitt compounded this by calling on another grade-grubber, Carly Fiorina, to answer the question. She more or less aced the snap quiz:
So, as an experiment, Hewitt invited Republican candidate Carly Fiorina to answer the same question — without any preparation -- to see if she had a similar amount of trouble.

Asked if she knows who General Soleimani is, Fiorina replied with a hesitant “Uh, yes.” She stalled a bit by getting Hewitt to say what about the Iranian general he wanted to know before she answered. But then, she ended giving an answer that was far more thought-out and rational than anything Trump was able to manage:
Look, we know that the general of the Quds force has been a powerful tool of the Iranian regime to sow conflict. We also know that the Quds forces are responsible for the deaths and woundings of American soldiers. We also that the Quds forces have been in Syria and a whole bunch of other countries in the Middle East. The Iranian deal -- which sadly, has just been approved by Congress -- starts a massive flow of money, and that money is going to be used not only to build up an Iranian nuclear weapon – which they have been hell-bent on getting for thirty years -- that money is also going to go to the Quds forces, going to go Hezbollah. It’s going to go to all of Iran’s proxies which is why I’ve said to you on other occasions, Hugh, that we have to stop the money flow. And even if Congress had succeeded in stopping this deal -- which we now know they have not -- the reality is that China and Russia and European money are already flowing to Quds forces among proxies. And that’s why I’ve said I’d cut off the money flow by letting the Supreme Leader know that, hey, there’s a new deal, and we’re going to make it as hard as possible for you to move money around the global financial system so that we cut off the money flow from the Iranian regime to whomever, including the Quds force.
Hewitt seemed relieved. “That’s the same basic question set that I posed to Donald Trump that he objected to,” he told Fiorina.
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Jeb also played teacher's pet:
He joined the pile-on over an interview Trump did with radio host Hugh Hewitt in which he dismissed the importance of knowing different Middle East leaders and groups and mixed up Kurds with Iran’s Quds Force.

“You got to know who the players, you need to know what the capabilities of the U.S. are, you need a strategy,” Bush said.
And there was also this, from NPR's Don Gonyea, apparently from another Bush campaign appearance:
GONYEA: It was just the kind of opening Jeb Bush wanted. By the time he met with reporters after his town hall last night, he was ready with this:

BUSH: He ought to know who the players are, for sure. I'm sure he'll bone up on this now. But this is not a flippant thing. This is a serious deal.
For Trump, this is terrific: Nerdy,"low-energy" Jeb Bush is attacking him for not spending all his time with a nose in a briefing book.

I know, I know: Sarah Palin displayed ignorance in 2008, and that hurt her. Yes, but that was a general election, and the voters who were put off were not Republican diehards -- the diehards still loved her. And she suffered in part because she seemed to get thrown on the defensive. That's hardly what's happening with Trump:

Forget it. Ignorance is bliss. GOP voters will say Trump won this round.


Victor said...

Obama's talked about these folks plenty, Hoft, you dimwit.

The pure comedy gold there, is the dumbest ma on the internet telling someone else to think!

I hated W & Dick with about as much hatred as I can muster, but I still watched or listened to their speeches.
These KKKonservative KKKlowns hate him so much, they don't watch or listen to what the POTUS is saying!

The whole caravan of stupid, ignorant, and bigoted GOP clowns scared the living hell out of me!

Marcus said...

Completely agree ….the same thing was tried with George Bush and he pushed back and won with the base.
You don’t win political wars with Intellectual knowledge… just ask Kerry and Gore
If Jebi keeps this up he will be Gore ized …Mr low energy will make a deal with the Fiona girl to be his attack dog
VP given as a token…so she can negate Clinton…Trump sees this move coming

Feud Turgidson said...

While I accept the derp patrol reliably praises the weird, twisted pseudo-intellect Huge Hewitt when they imagine he's bested someone they hate (just for them, too!), I can't and don't believe any person actually likes Hewitt. He's got some sort of bent self-image as the spiritual spawn of WF Buckley.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Trump to Palin is just wrong. For a few reasons - Palin was an unknown quantity when McCain picked her - when she started showing up all anyone knew about her was that she was the governor of Alaska, she had a rep for being a good conservative, and that she was a fairly good looking woman. Other than that she was an unknown quantity - when it turned out that she was somehow more disengaged from the real world than GWB AND less articulate than he was AND a woman from a non-elite background, the knives came out against her.

Everyone knows who Donald Trump is. If you are a Donald Trump supporter, you are not going to be surprised when the man reveals his ignorance. He's been revealing his ignorance via tabloids and reality TV and ghost-authored books and bankruptcies since the 1980s.

mlbxxxxxx said...

"It should absolutely terrify us that we might elect a president who's as cavalier about learning the details of the problems he's likely to face in office as Donald Trump is."

More terrifying than the prospect of the Bushies like Wolfowitz and Feith returning to gov't? Trump, and all his success represents, is scary but I still think he's the least terrifying candidate out there. I guess I agree that it's a little scary that one of our major parties has devolved to know-nothingism. I remember studying about the Know-Nothing Movement and thinking how strange it was. Now seeing it resurgent like some societal zombie is unsettling but I think, hope, it is a last gasp. Maybe Trump is the grand finale. I don't think he would beat Hillary, but I still don't think he's the worst option should the GOP candidate win. And maybe he's the best of the rest. Other than Kasich, I can't think of one who's really better.

A lot of lefties I read seem to think that President Trump is something we should try to stop at all costs. I see a lot of sort of wishing/hoping that the Rs come to their senses, get control of the process and stop Trump. I wish someone would tell me why. I see Trump, in context, as an almost unalloyed good. He is the loosest of loose cannons and who could wish for more for one's enemies.

Professor Fate said...

For a party that thought that Reagan and Bush's ignorance was a good thing to suddenly decide that knowing things is important is grimly amusing.
This as you point out won't hurt Trump - the base doesn't care about names -the desire to blow them up is all that matters.
This won't hurt Trump. Saying something sane about Kim Davis like he did, that, that is going to hurt him.

Anonymous said...

I can't be the only one who remembers the wingnut media's retort to Dubya Bush's failed pop quiz on current events and world leaders: "We're electing a president, not a Jeopardy champion."

Unknown said...

Trump as president is a terrifying thought. That's equally true of any members of the Clown Car.

Steve M. said...

mlbxxxxxx --

I've had the thought you're having -- that Trump is less wedded to orthodox GOP thinking than the other candidates. I've been thinking that about the Koch agenda for destroying the social safety net and the regulatory mechanisms, but you have a point about the neocon agenda as well.

However, I suspect that what's going to happen if Trump really does start winning primaries is that the party and its satellites will desperately try to cozy up to him in an effort to influence him. On foreign policy, I really think they're going to try to hook him up with the Wolfowitzes and Feiths. And at least Trump knows one or two things about money, so he's rejecting the gutting of Medicare/Social Security and he wants to tax hedge-fund guys. On foreign policy, he says skeptical things about the Iraq War, but relative to Obama he's basically a neocon. Or at least I fear he is -- his ideals on foreign policy aren't well formed, to put it mildly.

Joey Blau said...

Actually, I agree with Trump here. It is not that important to name these leaders. They may very well be dead by the time of the next president is in office. And creating a strategy beyond " we will crush them" is hard and needs the resources of the military, which of course, Trump does not have now.

And what better strategy than to attack the nerd!

Steve M. said...

Zawahiri's been around since long before 9/11, for what it's worth.

Professor Chaos said...

Republicans don't care if Trumo doesn't know who these guys are. In fact, they probably prefer it that way. I think they want a president who will say "I don't care who's who, I'm gonna blow em all up anyway."