by Andy Weddington
Friday, 04 September 2015
"It's plain hokum. If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em. It's an old political trick. But this time it won't work." Harry S. Truman (33rd President of the United States)
Hugh Hewitt, host of The Hugh Hewitt Show (talk radio), interviewed Donald Trump yesterday.
After opening pleasantries, Mr. Hewitt delved into commander-in-chief themed questions (he believes relevant at this point in the fight for the GOP nomination for president).
Mr. Hewitt asked about specific antagonists and enemies and wanted to know if Mr. Trump knew who was who amongst them. What I heard was - jeffthejihadjoker; ichibodidiottheiedmaker; raggedrusselltheroadsidebomber; hairyhenrythebeheader and blah, blah, blah.
Mr. Hewitt used the real names (General Soleimani; Quds Forces; Hassan Nasrallah; Zawahiri; al-Julani; al-Baghdadi; et al.), of course, which have a confusing array of consonants with an occasional vowel and when pronounced sound like a cross between Chinese, pigeon English, and gibberish with a mouthful of oatmeal.
Mr. Trump was not amused. Though no visual, you could sense he sat up in his chair, tugged on his jacket, and shifted his necktie - then moved in on the mic and replied they were 'gotcha' questions.
Mr. Trump said at this point he need not know and besides most of those characters would likely be gone before the next president took office, and if president he hoped to find a General Douglas MacArthur in the pack to advise and handle. (Sorry, Mr. Trump, no chance of finding a MacArthur like general or flag officer - they have all been forced out or retired. There might still be such an officer in the company grade, perhaps O-4, ranks.)
Anyway, back and forth went the interview with Mr. Hewitt moving on to broader more relevant questions and then towards the end returning to the commander-in-chief topic to which Mr. Trump held his ground.
Thinking about it, what Mr. Trump should have said to Mr. Hewitt...
"Hugh, your questions are more appropriate for our sitting president. Have you asked President Obama? The Middle East is falling apart on his watch; we're under attack on our homeland; we're about to sign a nuclear agreement with an enemy vowing to destroy us; and I'd wager he has not a clue who's who nor does he care. Now, if I am elected, I will know what I need to know to make decisions in the best interest of the United States and our friends. And those decisions will focus on how best to go about hunting down these people - whatever their names, killing them, and destroying their forces."
They were 'gotcha' questions. At this point, does it matter that any of the candidates knows all the players, particulars, and subtleties?
Later in the day Mr. Hewitt posed the same questions to Mrs. Carly Fiorina (she was not familiar with the Trump interview). I listened to that interview. From her hesitations, turnabout questions, answers, and tone she didn't know, either. She stumbled her way through those questions inserting well-rehearsed stump speech remarks about the Middle East that sounded good.
Both interviews confirmed the shortcomings of radio. I have mental images of both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Fiorina. Mr. Trump - confident and direct and challenging and Mrs. Fiorina not. Mr. Hewitt's questions would have been better posed on television - to observe body language and facial expressions. And better suited for asking next year when the last couple three candidates are scrapping for the nomination.
Mr. Trump's frankness that he did not know and was put off by the 'gotcha' tack was genuine. You cannot BS the troops (as anyone who has ever led Marines knows). And Mr. Trump wasn't about to try and BS his audience. He doesn't need to.
Mr. Trump surely does not need me defending him. And that is not my aim. But every day I watch the news and read what's going on the Middle East. Nor could I rattle off the cast of characters in play. Nor do I care to. All I care about is there's ongoing efforts to hunt them down and kill them.
I met Hugh Hewitt once - a few years ago at a brother Marine's retirement ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton. I was seated beside Mr. Hewitt. I had no idea who he was nor what he did. During our chit chat he mentioned hosting a radio talk show. We may have exchanged a few thoughts about talk radio but mostly we spoke about Marines. My impression was he was a decent gent and if my longtime friend thought enough of him to invite him to his retirement then he must be a good Joe.
I'll not question that Mr. Hewitt is a good Joe and a patriot. Though I do take exception to what he believes important at this point in the winnowing of candidates aspiring to be president. I do hope and expect, as one of the hosts for the upcoming GOP debate, that for the sake of America he asks meaningful questions of the candidates - questions that are appropriate at this point in the race. His mission must be to inform and educate America not single-handedly attempt to embarrass and dismiss candidates (Fox News hosts tried that tactic in the first debate and failed.).
So, between Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Trump, who got who?
A savvy guy who is not going to be tricked nor 'gotcha'ed' - an honest Mr. Trump prevailed.
Yes, Mr. Hewitt quizzed Mr. Trump.
But, Mr. Trump schooled Mr. Hewitt.
That interview, for everyone paying attention, was a lesson.