Starts off bad, with Hewitt asking him about the Quds Force and Trump replying with an applause line about the Kurds, and progresses inexorably from there to Trump grumbling that it’s a “gotcha” to ask him if he recognizes the heads of Al Qaeda and ISIS by name. If you can’t spare time for the audio — and you should, at least the first few awkward minutes — here’s the transcript. “Nothing says ‘fighter,'” quips Andrew Stiles, “like whining about tough questions.”
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.
Hewitt steers him back around to the “gotcha” complaint at the end of the interview and asks him if he really feels that way. Trump: “Yes, I do. I totally do. I think it’s ridiculous.” He wasn’t kidding:
.@hughhewitt producer says Trump's team spitting fire over "gotcha" FP Qs. Threatening to never do show again.
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 3, 2015
Interestingly, to test how much of a gotcha it really was, Hewitt decided to drop the same questions about the Quds Force etc on Carly Fiorina in a later interview. How do you suppose she did? Click here to listen.
No one’s going to care either way, though, right? If you dislike Trump, this is further evidence that he’s not just unqualified to be president but seems to disdain having to prepare for the job. With the Middle East melting down, let’s go ahead and elect a guy whose interest in the region is so meager than he can’t name-check the head of Al Qaeda 14 years after 9/11. If you like Trump, the interview is meaningless because (a) nobody knows who those people are! or (b) Trump is a manager, not a details guy, and he’ll find the classiest, most luxurious natsec people or (c) as a Twitter pal said, knowing who the regional players were didn’t stop Obama from bungling everything he touched there, from Mubarak’s ouster to raising a Syrian rebel army to putting Iran on a 15-year track to having a nuclear bomb. “Name That Jihadi” is just a game being used by the dreaded GOP establishment to try to make Trump look stupid so that less populist eggheads like Carly Fiorina look good by comparison. Besides, didn’t we find out just last night that policy differences hardly matter to either Republicans or Democrats? Why would we turn around, then, and disqualify a guy for being shaky on policy?
You know who I bet would have answered Hewitt’s questions intelligently, though? Ted Cruz. Just something to think about.
By the way, Hewitt happens to be the moderator for the GOP/CNN debate on September 16th, creating a quandary for Trump. Does he start whining about unfairness now and risk alienating Hewitt, or does he wait until after the debate, when he whiffs on another highfalutin question about the guy who’s masterminding Iranian expansionism in the Middle East?