The key bit starts at 2:10 after Trump argues (correctly) that security is the feds’ top priority. And let’s be fair: This is a good answer for a national candidate eyeing a general election, no? If you polled Americans and asked whether health care and education are important functions of the federal government, what numbers would you see in agreement? Eighty percent maybe? It’s pure poison to conservatism and it’s inconsistent with Trump’s own program, which calls for abolishing the Department of Education — watch Cooper bail him out by asking if he means that state governments should oversee education, to which Trump replies yeah, right, the states — but it’s music to the ears of general-election voters. And it’s right in line with the Trumpist worldview. Trump’s critique of government has never been that it’s too big or takes on too many responsibilities for which it’s ill-suited (sorry, Rush). The critique, pure and simple, is that it’s being led by stupid people, i.e. people besides Donald Trump. Why would a guy who styles himself a national savior, whose entire life has been devoted to massing power and prestige, ever suggest that the government he’s looking to lead shouldn’t have dominion over every part of American society? This is who he is and has been since day one. That’s why his fans like him, isn’t it? Put everything in Trump’s hands and just sit back and wait for things to get better.
I ask this question not to troll but in earnest: Does Trump know basic civics? I’m sure he knows the most basic basics, like the three branches of government, but would he be able to explain in a sentence or two, for instance, why someone who favors federalism believes most functions of government are best handled at the local level? Hillary Clinton is no federalist but I’m sure she at least understands the argument for it. Does Trump? When he said a few weeks ago that judges “sign bills,” was that a simple brain fart or does he really not understand the distinction between legislative bills, judicial orders, and majority opinions/dissents? I honestly don’t know. Everyone acts annoyed when reporters get pedantic with presidential candidates by quizzing them on their knowledge of baroque facts, like who the prime minister of Malaysia is, but Trump really does put out the vibe sometimes that how the basic machinery of government operates in the United States is a secondary concern to a would-be president. Just this morning he told ABC that he’d look to fill Supreme Court vacancies with judges who “would look very seriously at [Hillary’s] email disaster,” which on one level is just some perfunctory trolling of Hillary and another level is incoherent. How would a judge prove that he’d take allegations of mishandling classified information seriously? Is there a judge across the whole country who wouldn’t? Doesn’t it fall to the FBI to “look very seriously” at mishandling classified info, not an appellate judge who’d realistically only end up weighing in on the legal niceties of any eventual prosecution? No wonder this guy doesn’t want to debate Cruz one on one.