Bush’s bumbling interview was big news. Just like today, the media world buzzed about the Republican candidate’s performance. The candidate’s opponents were gleeful, while his allies worked quickly to downplay the significance of the interview.
There was no excuse then, nor is there any excuse now, for a top presidential candidate to waltz into media interviews without having adequately prepared. Trump’s arrogance — his belief that he can credibly talk about any subject regardless of how little he knows about it — got the better of him. But sometimes a little perspective on the overall electoral significance of blips like these can be enlightening.
George W. Bush went on to win the Republican presidential nomination and the White House in 2000. That disastrous interview didn’t help him, but it also wasn’t fatal to his chances. The answers to the two following questions will likely determine how this latest episode affects Trump’s standing in the polls: 1) do his supporters even care about his demonstrated ignorance on matters of foreign policy, and 2) to the extent they do care, will he take any steps to make sure he doesn’t repeat that performance going forward?