After a few relatively friendly appearances on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Donald Trump got put through a series of tough foreign-policy questions in Hugh’s usual style for candidates. Trump got stumped and complained during the interview about dealing with “gotcha” questions, and was not much happier today, either. Trump called Hugh Hewitt a “third-rate radio announcer” in a phoner on Morning Joe, during a surprising answer on the Iran deal:
Full disclosure, just to cover the bases: Hugh Hewitt’s show is broadcast through Salem Media Group, the parent company of Hot Air, and Hugh is a personal friend and mentor to me on nearly everything except NFL football. Therefore, I’m inclined to defend Hugh anyway, as most readers would already know. With that said …
It’s true that Hugh asks tough questions of presidential candidates, and sometimes questions that seem inordinately detailed. What most seem to forget is that this has its basis in the mainstream media questioning of Republican candidates in general election coverage, and specifically an exchange with George W. Bush during his first presidential run in which he could not name the leader of a Central Asian country. If candidates think Hugh’s tough and don’t like his questions, they will be in for a rude shock when the mainstream media begins taking its potshots as the primaries approach. Plus, unlike the question asked of Bush, the questions Hugh asked have direct relevance to the wars the US is currently fighting and the Iran deal that the next President will have to handle. This is exactly the kind of test that Republican primary voters should want to ensure the necessary capability in dealing with the national media later on down the road.
On the topic of Iran, Trump offers a surprising approach. He told MSNBC’s panel that he’d work with Barack Obama and John Kerry’s deal, a pact that is wildly unpopular with voters at the moment and emblematic of Obama’s naïveté on foreign policy. Trump says he can improve the deal rather than trashing it, a position that will challenge the Republican base’s desire to effect a major change in foreign-policy direction. Furthermore, why would Trump keep the deal when he doesn’t have to do so?
Donald Trump says he is a great negotiator. Would a great negotiator stick to a non-binding deal if some day it were in his interest not to?
— John Dickerson (@jdickerson) September 4, 2015
Finally, this childish response is yet another indication of Trump’s temperament. Angry conservatives are cheering Trump’s belittling of media figures for obvious reasons, but let’s check the scorecard of his targets. He’s slagging people like Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Megyn Kelly, and now Hugh Hewitt, who has provided conservatives with a consistent voice on talk radio and television for decades. What was Trump doing during those years for conservatism? Putting money into Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, arguing for single-payer health care, opposing abortion restrictions, and identifying as a liberal Democrat. Why are conservative media figures the only targets of Trump’s attacks? That’s a question that Republican primary voters should consider.
Update: Fixed a typo and a clumsy construction.