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:
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Trump did not know the terror leaders with their repective Islamist organization.
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.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog