I’ve made no bones about the fact that I dislike Donald Trump. But I thought that he blew an opportunity when he appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s show. Trump knew full well in advance that Hewitt likes to grill his guests on foreign policy. Instead of taking advantage of this knowledge and preparing in advance to quiet the critics who see him as a policy lightweight, he just declared any question whose answer he didn’t know as irrelevant. Wordsmith gave us a good summary after the interview.
If you feel I’m being unfair to Mr. Trump, I didn’t like it when Herman Cain made his wisecrack about not knowing who the ruler of “Uz-becki-becki-stan” was, either. As a conservative you have to expect to be grilled harder by the media than any leftist would be. While I have no issue with conservatives treating the mainstream media like the partisan hacks that they are, that doesn’t mean that every tough question they ask is an unfair one. And yes, I was a Herman Cainaanite myself, and I was pretty annoyed when 9-9-9 became the answer to every question.
With Hewitt scheduled to be one of the moderators in the 2nd GOP debate, the rematch slugfest that some hoped for never materialized. Still, there was something about what Trump said in the interview that’s been digging at me, and I finally realized what it was (emphasis mine):
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.
The mention of MacArthur was what hit me. And shifting out of political thinking mode and into workplace mode, when you get down to it our Presidential election is the most elaborate job interview process in the world today. So why not follow up from the perspective of a job interviewer? Here are two follow up questions I would have thrown out if I were Hewitt:
You say that you’re hoping to find the next MacArthur or hopefully someone close to that caliber. Based on what you’ve seen in the last two administrations, why hasn’t the next Douglas MacArthur already been identified and at the top of our military?
That’s not too tough a question, and a fair one to point at a candidate talking with the same condescending arrogance of someone who vows a “return to smart diplomacy”. From there I’d hit a little bit harder, but I still believe fairly:
By what process are you going to identify your candidates for the position? And since you acknowledge that you don’t know a lot of details on foreign policy, what questions will you ask to ensure that your candidates don’t snow you during the interview?
The last question I’d ask goes to a personal peeve. It’s been a while, but I’ve interviewed quite a few people for jobs over the years, and nothing annoys me more than when I start smelling bull snot from an interviewee. While I would never be this direct (I’d be subtler to give them the opportunity to climb out of the hole they dug, or keep digging) in a normal job interview, in this case I think it would be warranted:
Mr. Trump, you’re a businessman and you’ve hired many people over the years. Foreign policy knowledge is a key competency for the presidency – the job you’re seeking to be hired for. Of all of the people you’ve interviewed, how many have you hired who have acknowledged that they lack a skill necessary for the job position, and counter that once you hire them they will be smarter than you in that area?
Yes, I admit that the question is a bit condescending, but if Trump tells Hewitt that he knows nothing on a subject where Hewitt is well versed and a few briefings will make him smarter than Hewitt… you’re getting what you deserve.
The thought of a Trump presidency genuinely scares me, or even worse, a choice between Trump or Biden with Warren as his Veep. I don’t think I’d be able to watch a debate where Biden would be the calm, rational one on the stage. But then again, the American people would never elect some shallow egomaniac whose main skill is putting up a façade of competence for the TV cameras… right?